BookGive has successful first year under leadership of Regis alumna

When Melissa Monforti ran into Nicole Sullivan, the owner of Denver bookstore and wine bar BookBar, one day in 2019, Monforti was surprised to learn Sullivan had just purchased Regis 66, a 1940s-era car service station just south of Regis University’s Northwest Denver Campus.

“I said, ‘You did what? Why?’” Monforti said.

A decade earlier, BookBar began hosting a community book exchange, encouraging local readers to bring in old books and take home others. Even though the event was only hosted once a year, people began thinking of the store as a place to donate books. It didn’t take long for donations to start stacking up at BookBar.

So, as Sullivan explained to Monforti, BookBar needed more space — and a new organization to facilitate the donations on a larger scale. After purchasing the service station, her next priority was to hire an executive director.

The conversation was perfectly timed. Monforti, who previously ran small businesses, was an expert — in 2000, she earned a Master of Nonprofit Management degree from Regis. She started as executive director shortly after the two women talked.

BookGive collects donated books from community members and makes them available to organizations in need, including retirement homes, under-served schools, jails, food banks, safe houses, rehabilitation centers and hospice facilities.

After the nonprofit opened its doors on March 7, 2020, things were running smoothly. As executive director, Monforti had just received the charity’s first donations and began to put up bookshelves.

But just two weeks later, the novel coronavirus had spread so rapidly that the charity had no choice but to close its doors and regroup.

“We figured out ways to have donations come in,” Monforti said. “We accepted donations one day a week. I had one volunteer at a time with me, so little by little we were able to get things going.”

By the end of 2020, BookGive had donated 30,000 books to organizations throughout the Denver Metro Area. This year is looking even better: So far, BookGive has donated 14,000 books.

Since the charity opened, Regis has become a close partner with BookGive. This spring, the nonprofit secured a grant through the Regis EnRoute Small Grant program to help purchase books in large print and  in Spanish. The charity frequently receives requests for both types of books, but rarely has them in stock. Regis student Kortnie Bowman, who was a work-study at BookGive, was instrumental in helping secure the grant.

Monforti said the charity could always use help in the form of book and monetary donations, as well as volunteers. BookGive accepts book donations 10 a.m.-1 p.m. each Tuesday and the second Saturday of each month.

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