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Lifestyle // Good Neighbors
Christina O’Connor

Bernice Parsons

Photo from Bernice Parsons

Photo from Bernice Parsons

When Bernice Parsons moved to Honolulu from the Philippines about a decade ago, the extensive number of libraries was one thing that struck her. Not only were there plenty of libraries full of books, but they were all open to the public and anybody could borrow as many books as they want.

“It was something that I saw that we just didn’t have growing up,” Parsons says. “A lot of people didn’t have access to books.”

In June, Parsons, who is the founder and president of bookkeeping company Vertaccount, partnered with Friends of the Library of Hawaii to donate excess books from an annual sale to the Philippines. Vertaccount, which focuses on bookkeeping for small and medium-sized businesses, also has a second office in Manila.

“Over there, there are just so many services that are lacking, so you can imagine that the lowest priority is going to be a library,” she says. “For me, it was just seeing that extra resource and knowing there is a community that could use that resource – I thought, ‘How do I bridge it?’”

The books went to the village of Maisog for its Maisog Watershed

Initiative, a project that emphasizes conserving natural resources, organic food production and education. Part of the initiative involves establishing a local library for the community, and for the children in particular.

“We wanted to take those books and make them available to somebody else,” she says. “It’s nice because we are also upcycling these resources.”

In keeping with Maisog Watershed Initiative’s focus on sustainability, Parsons sought out as many books on natural sciences and the environment as possible. They filled several large boxes with a few hundred books and sent them off with logistics company LBC Foundation. The books arrived last month and were delivered to the children of Maisog Watershed Initiative by a Manila-based Vertaccount manager.

This was Vertaccount’s first big community outreach, and the company plans to conduct similar projects in the future. Next up, Parsons looks forward to doing something to benefit the local community.

“One of the things that we are looking at is reaching out to nonprofits to help them with their bookkeeping,” she says.

Vertaccount also hopes to launch a scholarship in the Philippines for aspiring accountants.

“Moving to the U.S., for me, it was really a place of abundance of everything, and I just wanted to be able to share some of that,” Parsons says.

For more information about Vertaccount’s donation, visit vertaccount.com.

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