Monday, September 3, 2012

New Books at East Side

 Two of my Mom's favorite things have always been books and kids. When she graduated from college with a degree in Special Education, she included reading to her special needs children as a part of her work.  After a few years of teaching a special education class however, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and had to take a few years off from teaching to go through her many surgeries as well as chemo and radiation treatments. When she finally was in remission, her body was so weak from battling cancer that she couldn't return back to the special ed classroom which required a lot of physical energy.  Instead, my mom got a part time job at the local public library and there truly found her calling.  Being immersed in children's literature and reading to the children during story hour both created a new passion.  Soon after she started working at the library, she found out I was on the way.  Once again, her career got put on hold as she stayed home with me for many years. Finally, when I was in fifth grade, she was able to go back to college and get her Master's Degree so she could fulfill that calling she had many years ago-- to be an elementary school librarian.

In 1990 she landed her first job at Eastside Elementary, a school in the middle of an economically depressed area on the city's southeast side.  When she arrived, the library had long been neglected and was seriously underfunded.  My mom saw this as her personal challenge.  She wrote grants, ordered new books, started after school reading programs, and brought in guest authors and illustrators to inspire her students.  She had story time, craft time, and helped older students with research papers.  She really rolled up her sleeves to make the East Side Elementary library a sparkling jewel in the middle of a run down area.  She loved it and worked hard at it until her heart condition forced her into an early retirement 12 years later.

So this year, on the one year anniversary of my Mom's death, my friend Beth spearheaded a project to collect new books and donate them in my Mom's name to the Eastside library.  Beth contacted the current librarian, who was thrilled to be a part of the project, and she called all of our friends to encourage them to donate a book or two.  And on that one year date, Beth presented me with the bags and bags of books all ready to donate in my Mom's memory.  It meant so very much to me.  Over the summer my dad and I added some books to the collection and this past Friday, my dad and Lucas and I drove 40 minutes across town to deliver them to the library-- my mom's library.  It was really special.
Just a small sampling of some of the new books
Beth had made sure that each book contained this sticker.

Eastside Elementary
The school is across the street from an air force base so rumbling sounds of jets taking off and landing are as common as a clock ticking to these students.

 My dad and Lucas checking out the fish tank in the library
So many memories here.  
I'd like to think my mom is smiling each time a child picks up a book.


Rachel said...

What a beautiful way to honor your mom. And what an amazingly precious friend Beth is to take this on!! You are a blessed woman and I'm glad you, your dad and Lucas could all share this special moment together! Love you!

Jacquelyn said...

That is so awesome of Beth, and you guys, to do that. :) What a great idea!

Maria Rose said...

So beautiful! Your friend really did something special!

Susan Struck said...

That was just perfect, wasn't it?