Bob and Kathy Willhite, community volunteers

Kathy and Bob Willhite.

The success of the Big Read Machine is due in large part to the commitment and expertise of Bob and Kathy Willhite. The Willhites pair their separate skill sets and love of community service, resulting in the completion and launching of this literacy project.

Bob is the Big Read Machine’s coordinator. He arranges the loading of the books, schedules the volunteers, identifies the stopping locations, and publishes the schedule. Bob retired from Pfizer after 33 years in information technology and compliance. He brings management and organization skills to the effort.

Kathy’s focus is building the bus library circulation. After receiving 5,000 books from local families during a book drive over three years ago, Kathy cataloged the titles, classifying and labeling each book. Kathy was the Vicksburg District Library Director from 1991-1995 and served as the children’s librarian at Kalamazoo Country Day School from 1999-2010.

On bus days, the Willhites greet volunteers and patrons and welcome everyone aboard. They explain the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation, which helped fund the project and continues to sponsor it, and assist children looking for books. The catalog is on a web-based platform and is maintained by the couple.

Keevin O’Neill, Vicksburg Community Schools superintendent says, “Bob and Kathy have committed countless hours to this important community project, and their skills and enthusiasm helped make the Big Read Machine a reality.”

Bob and Kathy are two of many people in our communities whose volunteerism and commitment make South County so special.

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