FROM ILLINOIS HELP WESTWEGO LIBRARY
Jefferson Parish Library
Director Lon Dickerson accepts
items for Westwego Library’s children’s
area donated by
Clear Creek Friends Meeting of McNabb, Illinois, represented
(left to right) Carol Bartles, Kay Drake, and Rachel
In the wake of hurricane Katrina’s devastation,
the Clear Creek Friends Meeting in McNabb, Illinois,
reached out to help the people affected by the storm.
When the American Friends Service Committee - AFSC
- offered grants for Quakers to provide direct support
to communities affected by the hurricane, Clear Creek
Friends approached Jefferson Parish Library with the
idea of helping a specific library affected by the
hurricane to make a meaningful impact. As a result,
the Clear Creek Friends asked AFSC for grant money
to provide support for the Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego.
The Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego, LA, had significant
roof damage due to the impact of Hurricane Katrina,
though the initial damage was minor. However, when
the water supply was resumed, the check valve on the
sprinkler riser didn’t open. This resulted in
water damage in the children’s area, as well
as significant damage in the staff areas. The library
lost its entire children’s nonfiction section,
except for biographies and holiday books—a loss
of 7,500 volumes.
Immediately, the Clear Creek Friends Meeting raised
$5,000 through the AFSC to purchase furniture to enhance
the children’s area, creating a much more child
friendly environment, and to provide incentive gifts
for the Summer Reading Program.
Children’s section at Westwego
as of May 8, 2006
(Note sheetrock removed from far wall.)
Because of this generous donation through the Clear
Creek Friends Meeting, every child completing the
Summer Reading Program at the Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego will
receive a clear backpack with a book. In addition,
there will be a raffle at the end of the summer, and
three children will win new customized bicycles. The
bikes were donated to Clear Creek Friends by Michael's
Bikes of New Orleans. Other raffle
prizes provided by Clear Creek Friends include CD
players, radios, CD carriers, and CD’s.
In addition to the $5,000 already raised, many organizations
and individuals have joined in working with Clear
Creek Friends to aid the Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego. United Way
of Illinois Valley provided $2,900. The Starved Rock
Reading Council of North Central Illinois donated
$300 for new books and donated 30 boxes of gently
used children’s books, delivered by Double D
Express of Peru, Illinois. Daedalus Books donated
50 new books. Clear Creek Friends also persuaded furniture
vendors to discount prices for the furniture purchased.
But the Clear Creek Friends Meeting felt that purchasing
exciting summer reading incentives and children’s
furniture wasn’t enough. On May 8, 2006, a few
Clear Creek Friends Meeting members—Carol Bartles,
Kay Drake, and Rachel Mershon—came to Jefferson
Parish so that they could be directly involved in
supporting the Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego. They visited nine area
schools with Branch Manager, Danny Cangelosi,
and Andrea Taylor, Children’s Librarian, to
get over 2,000 children excited about signing up for
the 2006 “Paws to Read” Summer Reading
Program at the Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego.
Children getting excited about the
Summer Reading Program
(and the camera)
Clear Creek Friends’ compassion for those in
our area didn’t stop with their assistance at
the Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego. They also visited the Rainbow Family
Feeding Facility in New Orleans to feed the homeless,
nearly homeless, and other underserved people of New
Orleans. This “Welcome Home Kitchen” operated
by volunteers served meals to over 700 people a day,
providing free medical care, distributing clothing
and supplies, and offering a community bulletin board.
Though the Clear Creek Friends Meeting is helping
the Jefferson Parish Library to realize many of its
dreams post-Katrina, Jefferson Parish Library Director
Lon Dickerson notes that immense challenges still
lie ahead. The Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego still needs new dry
wall and carpeting, and more donations are needed
to help pay for this repair.
Thus far, no FEMA funds have been received to assist
Jefferson Parish Library in its recovery efforts.
With recovery costs at the Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego alone already
estimated at over half a million dollars, Clear Creek
Friends Meeting has committed to continue to help
the Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego and other library facilities.
Like many of the recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast,
progress at Jefferson Parish Library is made one small
step at a time. Clear Creek Friends Meeting wasn’t
able to solve all of the problems facing the Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego, but these generous Friends helped the Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego
take a couple of those steps.
The Clear Creek Friends Meeting was founded in 1834.
Clear Creek Friends are part of the Religious Society
of Friends. The American Friends Service Committee
was organized in 1917 to provide young Quakers and
other conscientious objectors an opportunity to serve
those in need instead of fighting during World War
I. In 1947, the AFSC won the Nobel Peace Prize for
efforts to heal rifts and oppose war.
Jefferson Parish Library thanks Clear Creek Friends
Meeting for their donations, dedication, and concern.