By Jaime Uranovsky
After Jaime Rose Whitesman tragically passed away from medulloblastoma in January last year, her mother, Martine Volks, knew that her daughter’s legacy would live on.
One of the ways in which Martine is ensuring that Jaime’s flame burns bright is through Spreading the Love for Jaime Rose: Jaime’s Book Club, which Martine started in September last year. But what is Jaime’s Book Club and how did it come about?
Martine shares, “[Jaime Rose] was an avid reader. She absolutely loved her books and kept them in the most impeccable condition. Her shelves were filled with books and I kind of walked in there and thought ‘Wow, what am I going do with all of these?’ That was the initial thought process. And then obviously [we were] spending a lot of time in the hospitals and hospital lounges and there was a lack of books.”
Martine began by donating Jaime’s own books and then reached out to the community when it came time to source more: “From people dropping off, I’ve collected at least 4000 books. People have been quite incredible. The community’s response has been amazing.”
For Martine, this project is very much about paying it forward. She explains, “When we were raising money for treatment for [Jaime] and for the Red Cross, [our campaign] was called For the Love of Jaime. This is about giving back. That’s why it’s called Spreading the Love for Jaime Rose. Now it’s going outwards. Now we’re spreading the love and giving back. So, every book that I’ve received is sitting in my lounge and I’m single-handedly doing it. I’ve put her pink logo sticker, which says Spreading the Love for Jaime Rose onto every single book. I’ve then divided the books [by age]. I’ve taken some bookshelves, painted them pink and added her little poster that says For the love of Jaime on canvas, and then filled them with books for the appropriate age. So, if the kids go and sit, at least they’ll be inspired, and they can say, ‘Oh, who’s Jaime?’ or ‘What’s that about?’ And I named it Jaime’s Book Club because clubs bring people together.”
Martine then donates the shelves of books to organisations and institutions in need: “I’ve given to the Jewish edu-care centre in Maitland and to Nazareth House. I’m going to give to an old age home near Greyton. I’ve given to the Red Cross [and] to the Oncology Lounge in Rondebosch Clinic where we [received treatment] and I’m going to ask at Vincent Pallotti next.
“I’m doing it slightly slower because I’m doing it by myself, step-by-step, but people can continue to drop off and if it gets to a point where it’s too much for me to manage, then I will ask kids to come and help me. And then, maybe what we’ll do is go read to people. So, it’s hopefully the start of something bigger.”
Martine says, “Some places seem to have had a shelf or two already but I was like, ‘No, it must be pretty; it must be pink. It must be Jaime.’ I can already even hear her going, ‘Uh. No. you can’t put the books like that!’ She was very particular about her books on her shelf being in the right order. But the bigger picture is that kids have something to read. I’ve received everything from ‘scratch ‘n sniff’ books to recipe books, so the variety is large.”
The beautiful thing about words in books is that, once written and read, they exist eternally for each reader.
What could be a more perfect way to keep the memory of Jaime Rose alive than by sharing immortal words with each person who is lucky enough to be part of her ever-growing book club?
For more information visit For the Love of Jaime on Facebook.
Contact Martine Volks directly on 072 627 9656 regarding drop-off arrangements at either her shop, Martine’s on the Bay Boutique, in Sea Point, or at her home which is also located in the area.