Building Libraries, Changing Minds

Agency Partners: Anthony Family Shelter, Harbor House, Holy Savior Catholic Academy 

Funding: $82,367 

Committee members: 22 

Summary: Providing libraries, computers and literacy programs for underserved populations. 

Junior League of Wichita, Inc. continued its long standing commitment to children’s literacy through the Building Libraries, Changing Minds grant. The League dedicated over $82,000 to fund this exciting project. The beneficiaries included Holy Savior Catholic Academy, Saint Anthony Family Shelter and Harbor House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence. With the funds from this grant, the League set up children’s libraries and literacy centers where none had existed, changing and influencing the lives of the children at all three of these special places. 

Holy Savior Catholic Academy 

Holy Savior Catholic Academy has over 250 students ranging from pre-school to eighth grade. Fifty percent of their student population is at poverty level. To better service their students and to increase outreach, Holy Savior Academy moved from its old facility to a larger renovated building. Their goal was to open the new school in mid-August. To help Holy Savior meet this deadline, the BLCM Committee members, along with general members and provisionals, worked together on a hot summer day in July and moved over 95 boxes of library books to the new building. That was just the beginning. 

After the move, the committee set to work transforming the space for the new library. With funds from the grant, new tables, chairs and books were purchased. New carpeting was donated and several artists donated art work now hanging on the colorful walls of the library. 

Perhaps the most significant additions to the library were the six new desktop computers, a smart board and projector. We learned from the Holy Savior staff that this new up-to-date technology was soon put to use when the students sat together in the library and were able to watch this year’s historic Presidential inauguration on the large smart board screen. 

The work at Holy Savior was not all purchasing and decorating. The committee also sponsored and participated in several events throughout the year, including an open house to familiarize the parents with the new technology. 

Our final event was a ceremony to bless and dedicate the library. At this event, Holy Savior students, their parents and the staff showed their heartfelt appreciation for the new library. The students gave Junior League liaison Audrey Hane, a large pile of handmade Thank You cards. Both Fr. James Billinger, Pastor of Holy Savior Parish, and Delia Barnett, Principal at Holy Savior Academy expressed their gratitude. Principal Barnett, with tears in her eyes, thanked JLW President Stephanie Brock while presenting her with a special plaque for the League. After leaving this gracious and warm event there was no doubt in our minds Junior League had significantly changed the lives of the students and families at Holy Savior. 

Saint Anthony Family Shelter and Harbor House 

Saint Anthony Family Shelter and Harbor House provide shelter and services to distressed families who are in crises. Saint Anthony provides accommodations for families who have lost their homes and Harbor House gives shelter and support to victims of family violence. 

Combined, these two shelters have housed over 340 children last year alone. 

With funding from the BLCM grant, the committee has created a comfortable area for the children to read books, magazines, do homework and utilize their new computers. The grant not only provided for the purchase of books but also furniture, area rugs, artwork and computer technology. 

Some of the special changes made at these shelters include a computer station built at Saint Anthony by committee member Tara Czepiel and her family. What makes this station unique is that it was constructed in a cozy nook that provides seclusion for those who use the computer. 

“This project is very needed and appreciated,” said Kate McPheeters, Director St. Anthony Family Shelter. “Our families are in an unusual living situation and access to this library provides both educational and relational growth for both children and parents. It builds on our Early Childhood and Foster Grandparent programs. This project will be long lasting and impactful.” 

At Harbor House, the professional staff who work closely with the children were thrilled with the new opportunity to purchase beneficial arts and crafts supplies that allow the children to express themselves during this time of crises. 

The reaction from the staff at both shelters has been exuberant. 

“Catholic Charities Harbor House is absolutely thrilled at the prospect of having a library which will benefit the women and children who are staying at our shelter,” said Director Sheri Bent. “We are especially looking forward to having computer access that will allow the residents to do research for homework and improve their literacy skills. The work done by the committee to create a comfortable setting for the children to read and use their new computers as well as providing beneficial tools for the staff to help the children during a very stressful time certainly has changed the lives of those who live and work at these shelters.” 

The opportunity for the BLCM committee to create libraries where none had existed and in places that truly needed our help made completing this innovative project a pleasure. The new libraries will impact over 700 children — and that is just this year alone. The children at Holy Savior and at the Shelters will be able to use these libraries for years to come. Considering the long-term impact of this project, the Building Libraries, Changing Minds grant could not have been named more appropriately. 

The Building Libraries Changing Minds Committee along with several provisionals and JLW members moved over 95 boxes of children's library books on a warm summer day to the new facility at Holy Savior School.
Members help to stamp and shelve 1,000 new books for the Holy Savior Library.
Members help to stamp and shelve 1,000 new books for the Holy Savior Library.
Members help to stamp and shelve 1,000 new books for the Holy Savior Library.
JLW President Stephanie Brock addresses the crowd at the Blessing and Dedication of the Holy Savior Catholic Academy Library. The library was made possible through the JLW's Building Libraries, Changing Minds project.
Holy Savior Catholic Academy students and their families gather for the Blessing and Dedication of the new library.

Junior League of Wichita

6402 East 12th Street
Wichita, Kansas 67206-1306
Phone: 316.682.7473