North Richmond center cuts ribbon on early literacy reading room

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North Richmond center cuts ribbon on early literacy reading room
Community members and leaders gathered to celebrate the new Early Literacy Reading Room at Shields Reid Community Center on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (Photos by Mike Kinney)

By Mike Kinney

Community leaders celebrated the ribbon cutting Friday for the new “Early Literacy Reading Room” at Shields Reid Community Center at 410 Kelsey St., which further augments over $1 million in upgrades to the center named after North Richmond sports and recreation icon Charles Reid.

“There will be wonderful literacy programs, opportunities for children to interact with adults, read and become successful at Verde [Elementary] school,” Gioia said.

The new “mini-library,” open to kids Tuesdays and Thursdays, is a welcomed boost to learning opportunities in an underserved community. It features fresh paint, restored ceiling beams, bookshelves, books, lights, an early-literacy computer, and furniture. It was created thanks to a partnership between the city, county and a $60,000 private grant from an anonymous donor, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia said.

“Early Literacy Reading Room” at Shields Reid Community Center

The reading room is coming at an ideal time for the Shields Reid Community Center, which is prepared for increased usage thanks to recent improvements. The city of Richmond contributed over $1 million into major capital upgrades at the center including new, larger ADA compliant restrooms, a modern kitchen, fitness center and more. The interior upgrades follow recent improvements to outdoor recreation at the center in late 2018, when the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local Union 342, Fregosi & Co. Paints Inc., and other area trades unions teamed up to restore the basketball courts and create other play opportunities.

A grand opening celebration or all of these upgrades will be held on April 25 during the North Richmond Earth Day Festival held annually at the center.

“North Richmond residents have a first class, centrally-located center for meetings, youth recreation and education, exercise facilities, parties, and more activities,” according to a statement from Supervisor Gioia’s office.