published: Friday, February 22, 2013
Library receives $10,000 donation
Roxanne Brown | Staff Writer
The Friends of the Cooper Memorial Library has received a $10,000 donation from a local benefactor to support children's programs there.
"We have received donations in the past, but usually when they are amounts of this size, they come from organizations or foundations," Lake County Library Services Division Manager Paul Alford said. "But we are very pleased to know that an individual in our community finds the services we offer so valuable to the point that they touched her in such a way as to want to help in this capacity."
Verneka Strom responded by email when asked about her reason behind the donation.
She said as a child, her family was poor and not entirely accepted by her grandparents or society as the norm because of her parents' inter-racial relationship.
She said she'll never forget a note her family received from her grandparents that said 'she would not amount to much' because of her ethnicity.
She found a library near her and that, Strom said, became her escape.
"It was mostly my brother and I for 14 years, then my mom had my sister, who was born with a severe mental handicap and a heart defect. My mom has always been a seamstress and my dad worked two jobs through most of my teenage years," Strom said.
"Growing up, I felt powerless and alone, needless to say through all of this, the library became a place of refuge. It was through such authors as Napoleon Hill, Joseph Murphy, and Maxwell Maltz that I learned to persevere through the hard times, stay positive, and believe in myself."
Strom said she wants to make sure the library is full of resources for local children, hence her donation.
"My favorite quote from Napoleon Hill is, "Sorrow, like failure, may be a blessing or a curse, according to one's reaction to it; the choice is entirely in the mind of the individual," she said. "The library really is the key to (one's) success."
The Friends of the Cooper Memorial Library will be using a portion of the money to upgrade the children's story time room with additional acoustic panels that will improve sound quality significantly.
The library staff often entertains more than 80 children and their parents in a program. They will also purchase Florida wildlife art for the youth area which will feature images of natural lands, birds and animals in the Florida wild, reminiscent of a place and time before developments.
Much of the rest will go towards providing additional youth materials, programs and services.
For information on joining the Friends of the Cooper Memorial Library, call 352-536-2275 or visit www.my lakelibrary.
Alford said patrons may download a calendar of library programs for any of the 15 Lake County Library System libraries.