July 15, 2004
Points of Light Number: 
Newark, DE

As the founder of the nonprofit literacy association, Success Won’t Wait, Inc., Vincenza Carrieri-Russo strives to reduce Delaware’s illiteracy rates by gathering donations of new and used books and redistributing them in the community. Though Vincenza is a teen-ager, she has accomplished more than many adults.

Her community service efforts to improve literacy began in 2002 when she taught a family friend’s daughter to dance. Her friend’s young son would wait in the lobby and Vincenza thought a basket of books would give him something to do while waiting. The basket was so successful, that she placed several other baskets in nearby karate studios, hair salons and a doctor’s office. The program grew due to requests for additional baskets.

Since the inception of Success Won’t Wait, Vincenza has organized dozens of statewide book drives, calling on residents to donate used books for redistribution in the community. To date, Vincenza has collected more than 8,000 books. She has also expanded the organization’s mission and has developed four major project areas of children’s book baskets, expanding existing permanent, residential libraries, assisting local libraries “Friends” groups and creating “Independent” libraries.

Upon request, children’s book baskets are placed in any lobby or office where a child might wait free of charge. Some examples of placement locations include doctor’s offices and auto repair shops. Vincenza has already placed more than 50 baskets in various locations that have held approximately 2,000 books. Success Won’t Wait has also expanded existing libraries that are greatly in need. Some of the locations are the Ferris School for Boys, Baylor Women’s Correctional Institute and Gander Hill Prison. Vincenza has distributed approximately 1,000 books to these facilities.

Vincenza has also assisted the local “Friends” of the libraries with donations for library improvement projects not covered by state or federal monies. Recently, the Friends of the Hockessin Library lost 25,000 books to Hurricane Isabella and Vincenza was able to donated more than 1,000 books to help them out. Finally, Vincenza has created independent libraries throughout the state. She recently installed a 1,000-book library at The Bayard House in Wilmington, Delaware.

Vincenza’s future plans include more book drives. She has a goal of 10,000 books for donation by June of 2004 and 20,000 by the end of the year. She is also busy with an expansion into the surrounding states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. Eventually, she hopes to have a presence in all 50 states.