Venice “Birthday Book Lady” retires with honors

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Linda Neuhaus is willing to train whoever volunteers to continue with the program before she leaves town for her retirement. Photo by Peter Carpenter
Linda Neuhaus is willing to train whoever volunteers to continue with the program before she leaves town for her retirement. Photo by Peter Carpenter

Linda Neuhaus – a volunteer for the Birthday book program at Couer D’Alene Elementary school in Venice, was recognized for her 35 years of voluntary service at the school earlier this month.

Her love for the school, books, and literacy will long be remembered by the students and families at Coeur d’Alene.

On Monday, Dec. 8, Principal Andrew Jenkins honored her with a special tribute during the school’s morning assembly.

A reception in the library followed, hosted by the school’s librarian Mary Beth McCarthy.

Neuhaus has volunteered as the “Birthday Book Lady” at Coeur d’Alene, as part of the Birthday book program that was started in 1980 by former principal Jeanne Grunder.

During each visit to the school, Neuhaus gathered a group of excited birthday students in the school’s library, where they got to choose a brand new paperback book to keep as their own.

From preschool through 5th grade, all students were included and allowed to select any book at their reading level.

Even students with birthdays during school breaks were remembered as Neuhaus made extra visits before holiday breaks to ensure that all children received their birthday books.

Speaking fondly of her role as the Birthday Book Lady, Neuhaus relates that not only did she get to share her love of books and reading with the children, but she also got to share precious conversations with them on the best day of their lives.

Neuhaus has a long history with Coeur d’Alene, as she herself is an alumna of the school.

She graduated from 6th grade in 1958 when the school was known as Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School.

In 1979, when her daughter Jenny began kindergarten at CdA, Neuhaus started volunteering at the school.

In addition to becoming the Birthday Book Lady, Neuhaus also served on the school curriculum committee.

After her daughter graduated from CdA, she continued to be the Birthday Book Lady while also volunteering at her daughter Jenny’s middle school (Mark Twain Middle School) and high school (Venice High School).

Years later, Jenny worked as a teacher’s aide at Coeur d’Alene while she was in college.

As the parent of another daughter, Rebecca, with special needs, Neuhaus has also volunteered as an advocate in the court system for children with special needs.

Coeur d’Alene Elementary School is located at 810 Coeur d’Alene Avenue in Venice.

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