BFA Volunteer Spotlight: Perry Mitchell

If you ever visit the Books For Africa Atlanta warehouse, you will probably run into Perry Mitchell sorting books, joking with staff and chatting with fellow volunteers. For the past six years, Perry a former advertising creative director, who is 80, drives 40 minutes twice a week from his home near Emory University to the warehouse in Marietta.

With a long-time interest in Africa and literature (he was an English lit major in college), Perry found BFA on the internet. It was a perfect fit for him.

“A huge part my whole charitable giving is based around  my belief that the quickest, most effective way to make the world a better place is to educate girls and women in developing countries,” he said.

Perry had been to Africa five times for work, and he really liked the people.

“Everybody I met seemed to want to learn how to do things better,” he said. “So, I had a real good feeling about Africa anyway, which made Books For Africa a pretty darn good fit.”

He called the warehouse and talked to Jen Hale, who coordinates volunteers, and she said to come by because they always need volunteers. “So, I went there, and I’ve never stopped going.”

Not only does Perry volunteer regularly, but he and his wife Pam Woodley, a native of Minnesota, have helped fund 10 shipments of books (including Girls Empowerment Collections) to eight African countries including Somalia, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Africa and Burkina Faso

And besides his volunteering and his support of book shipments, Perry has purchased signs for the warehouse to make it more efficient for the other volunteers who are sorting all kinds of books.

While Pam is involved in other volunteer work, she greatly admires what BFA does.

 “No one's there for the glamor or the salary,” she said. “They seem to really care about the mission. And I just think it's a cool concept. It's very cool to see a whole set of math or science books that are in great shape heading off to Africa and then also all the pleasure reading for the little kids. You know, little cute little books to get them interested in reading.”

Perry and Pam represent the backbone of Books For Africa: its hundreds of volunteers and donors in Atlanta, Minnesota and around the world.