Laneta Goings has believed in the power of books as long as she can remember. “From my early childhood, I have always loved to read,” Goings said.
“I have two adult daughters, and I have three grandchildren. And one of my children is a physician. So we understand the power of education, the power of reading and comprehension.”
In 2012, her grandson, L. Toure McCord II, founded an organization to help spread the written word to those less fortunate in the local community. Books 4 Buddies has collected over 70,000 new and gently used books from bookstores, businesses and the general public to distribute to underprivileged children at schools and community centers around Toledo.
“A lot of the kids, especially boys, don’t have access to reading material,” said Goings, who co-founded Books 4 Buddies and has been president since its inception. “And that’s the genesis of Books 4 Buddies. We understand that if you don’t have access to reading material, there’s no way you can succeed in life.”
Beyond simply serving the children of Northwest Ohio, Goings said she has seen the program’s impact reach all over the world through its Ambassador Program. “These young men, they’re black, they’re white, they’re latino, they go to public or private high schools, they are amazing role models.
“And recently, we have joined with another organization whereby we have international ambassadors living in Africa, in Asia and Europe. So, from being just a little grassroots organization starting in Toledo — it has expanded across the pond. And it is just amazing, the impact we can see. It’s gone beyond our wildest imagination.”
Q & A
I have always wanted to… give back to my community. In fact, I have always given back in some shape, form or fashion. As a little girl, I was always taught that it’s better to give than to receive.
What do you admire in people? I admire people who are truthful, I admire people who are firm in their beliefs, I admire people who reach out if they need help.
What is your pet peeve? When people promise to take on a role or commitment, and they fail to do it.
What is something that most people don’t know about you? I can’t think of anything that people don’t know about me, because I was born and raised in the community, I’ve been involved in many different organizations in the community, for many years, serving as president of the YWCA, I was on the zoo board for nine years, I was president of a local women’s organization, and I’ve been involved in a lot of different volunteer organizations.
What are the words you live by? Good, Better Best. Never let it rest, until your good is better, and your better is best.
What advice would you give to the younger you? To get involved, to be serious when you get involved, take on something that you’re passionate about, and don’t be shy about reaching out for help.
Who is someone you’d like to meet? I’d like to meet Michelle Obama.
What inspires you now? Seeing these young people, the ambassadors, seeing how excited they are about helping. … these young men get excited, they get involved, they just need some direction.
Favorite movie? Imitation of Life.
Who do you most admire? I think I’d have to double back to Michelle Obama, because she’s a role model, she’s a mother, she’s an educator, she’s smart, she’s compassionate, she has a wonderful personality, she’s somebody who embraces diversity, and she’s a wonderful role model, not just for women, but for mankind.