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D.C. Non-Profit Could Win $25K Thanks to F.C. ‘Woman of Worth’

lynnThe D.C.-based non-profit organization, So Others Might Eat, could acquire a $25,000 donation in less than two weeks to help feed the homeless this holiday season if 54-year-old Lynn Gaubatz of Falls Church gets her way.

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Lynn Gaubatz (Photo: Jon Reaves)

 

The D.C.-based non-profit organization, So Others Might Eat, could acquire a $25,000 donation in less than two weeks to help feed the homeless this holiday season if 54-year-old Lynn Gaubatz of Falls Church gets her way.

The 25-year F.C. resident was recently selected from more than 2,000 nominees as a 2010 L’Oreal Paris “Woman of Worth” honoree. The campaign pays tribute to 10 women across the country each year who are making a difference in their communities. However, only one will be selected as the official 2010 “Woman of Worth,” garnering her a $25,000 donation to a charity of her choice.

For being an honoree, the cosmetics company will donate $5,000 in Gaubatz’s name to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and has already awarded a matched amount to So Others Might Eat (SOME). But the local, faith-based organization – which has been providing daily meal programs and more to the homeless for 40 years – could turn that amount into $30,000 if Gaubatz gets the most online votes by Nov. 24.

She is the only honoree choosing to not accept the donation towards her own charity, AdoptALibrary.org, which she originally received the “worthy” nod for. Founded by Gaubatz in 2002, AdoptALibrary is responsible for providing thousands of books to schools, tribal colleges and prisons across the world.

“I could have donated the money to a library, but I thought, you have to be alive to read,” she said, adding that 75 homeless people in D.C. died in 2009.

Gaubatz, a music instructor and bassoonist, performs benefit concerts where she can, but said AdoptALibrary has taken off bigger than she could have ever imagined. She credited it to the fact people know exactly where their donations are going.

“People contributing to a cause want to see where their money is going, and it often goes to paying for more fundraisers or staff salaries when it comes to other organizations,” she said.

AdoptALibrary.org, which has seen 300,000 visitors since its inception, does not accept any money but directs donors to disadvantaged libraries throughout world.

Gaubatz started the website after seeing what she called a “need for books and too many people with old books who didn’t know how or where to donate them.” From Nebraska to Kenya, she researches what types of books are needed the most, where to send them and a direct contact for who is handling the on-site donations.

Gaubatz does not accept books personally, but often researches the ins and outs for potential donors in her spare time for free, recalling one psychology professor who wanted to send educational literature to Costa Rican community he knew could use the books but couldn’t finance the shipping.

“I worked with him over email and we eventually found a group willing to pay shipping to get them down there,” said Gaubatz, adding that tribal colleges are “especially desperate.” In order to receive accreditation and therefore be eligible for grant money, they must have a library with at least 5,000 college-level books.

The Little Priest Tribal College library in Winnebago, Neb. received so many books from AdoptALibrary donors that it now allows those using its programs for the first time to take home one book to keep following their visit. The library, now with more than 4,000 titles, was the first tribal college Gaubatz listed on the site. The former librarian there contacted Gaubatz after seeing the book-donation website featured in a “Hints for Heloise” column.

AdoptALibrary has also been featured in Woman’s World, Quick &Simple and Town & Country magazines and “Oprah and Friends” XM radio station. In 2008, Sen. Jim Webb named Gaubatz’s organization as the sole inspiration behind the 2008 U.S. Senate resolution declaring April 23 “National Adopt A Library Day.”

Surprised the most by strangers’ generosity during the last eight years, Gaubatz said it’s not uncommon for donors to discover a place in need across the world, forming a long-distance bond following between the two parties.

“It costs a lot to ship books to places like Nepal, but so many people have made the commitment to share at their own expense. It’s sometimes not until a couple of years later I will hear from a library across the world that an AdoptALibrary user continued to assist  them following the original book shipment,” she added.

Her “Women of Worth” honor isn’t the first time Gaubatz has been recognized. Glamour magazine named her “One of America’s Ten Most Outstanding Young Working Women” in 1988, and featured her again 20 years later winner of the 2008 Glamour/Sally Hansen “Best of You” Contest.

To view Lynn Gaubatz’s official “Women of Worth” Honoree Profile, click here. Votes for this year’s winner can be cast now through Nov. 24.

 

 

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