By Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog
Fresh paint, matching furniture, and planned décor are not the norm for families traumatized by homelessness. Those fortunate enough to find shelter get accustomed to make-do accommodations.
Not so the new library at the Mary’s Place shelter in White Center. It’s bright, comfortable, and inviting – whether a parent wants to read to her kids, enjoy a book himself, use a computer, or simply take a break to rewind.
A busy week of painting, assembling, and stocking culminated this past Saturday when the third Libraries for All project opened to Mary’s Place residents. Spearheaded by high-school senior Alina Guyon, a West Seattle resident, the project attracted help from several other volunteers, plus donations of books and laptops. The $5,250 in funding for expenses came from All the Sky Foundation.
Mary’s Place had an assortment of children’s books when Alina offered to create a real library. Starting with donated books (many from West Seattle), Alina enhanced the 250-square-foot room with computers so residents can search for jobs and stay connected with key people in their lives. The emphasis on children now includes kid-friendly DVDs.
“When families are trying to survive, education is set aside until the most pressing things in life are figured out and this break in a child’s education can create a long-term problem,” Alina said. “Having access to a library can help that child step back into school and stay at grade level.”
The 24-hour White Center Mary’s Place opened in June 2017 with a capacity of 70 adults and children. It is one of four full-service family centers that the nonprofit operates in the greater Seattle area.
Mary’s Place residents and members of Girl Scout Troop #40890 (photo above) helped stock the shelves with about 1,000 well-organized books. Knowing that loss and damage are inevitable, Libraries for All will replenish the supply as needed. The Mary’s Place staff will manage the library, use the projector to show movies, and maintain the computers.
The first Libraries for All project was for residents of a refugee facility near Kampala, Uganda, and the second was for children in a red-light district of Kolkata, India. Alina is weighing options for Project #4. Read more at libraries4all.com.
Now with its greatly enlarged collection of books, White Center Mary’s Place has put out a call for volunteers willing to read with children. To learn more, email email@example.com or call 206-621-8474.