Foundation Stories

Why I Give by Mike Sherry

Have you ever heard of Harmon Killebrew? What about Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean?

No? That’s OK. It takes a pretty in-depth knowledge of baseball to know those men are legends enshrined in Cooperstown.

For me, those names bring back childhood memories of a storefront in a south Kansas City strip shopping center. The space sat between a large hardware store and a veterinary clinic. It had rectangular fluorescent lights in the drop ceiling, thin gray carpeting, and rolling step stools with squeaky wheels.

This was the Mid-Continent Library’s Red Bridge branch, where I cemented my love of reading by checking out books about baseball immortals. My interests have broadened since then, but my appreciation for libraries is why I serve on the Johnson County Library Foundation board.

My parents’ volunteerism taught me the importance of giving back to the community. As a teen, a friend of mine and I spent part of our summer sprucing up the youth lounge of our synagogue. My volunteer activities as an adult have included walking dogs at an animal shelter (with my mom), delivering groceries to home-bound individuals, and working at fundraising events.

Community service is always rewarding. I sought a seat on the foundation board because it helps fund the library’s array of programming. The library is so much more than books and magazines.

The branches provide essential access to computers for patrons who don’t have one at home, and if you can’t find an activity that interests you, then you just aren’t trying. Offerings range from an intro to soldering, to book discussions and homework help for elementary students.

Libraries also exude calmness. It seems as if my anxieties drain away when I enter a branch.

It has been that way even before my time at the Red Bridge branch. I still remember filing down metal stairs in the boiler room of my elementary school to reach the library. Dinosaurs were my special interest back then.

Baseball chapter books came a little later, and just to fill you in:

Killebrew was a slugger for the Minnesota Twins in the 1960s, and Dean was a strikeout king while pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1930s.

Why I Give: Vicki Denk

My love of the library goes back many years.  It started when I paid my way through college by working at the KCK Public Library.   Then I volunteered at the Gardner branch of the Johnson County Library, and recently I served two terms as a member of the Friends of the Johnson County Library Board of Directors.  Beginning this January, I will be serving on the Board of the Library’s Foundation.

Ironically, as I was planning to write this, I saw a lady reading a book, and someone walked by her and said, “I saw that movie.”  Her response was, “Books are better,” and she encapsulated why I give in one succinct phrase.

It is so important that books are available to everyone in the community.  Multiple, uncensored sources of information and points of view are essential, especially in our world today.  Books educate us, expand our world and ideas, and bring us so much joy.  I cannot imagine a world without all that books and reading have brought to me and others.

That is why the work of the Foundation is so important.  It supports early literacy initiatives and service programs that are dedicated to the library and are intended to benefit all ages and interests in our community.  It is so fulfilling to give to a cause that does so much good and that I believe in so passionately.

As for what I’m reading, I just finished reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid and now I’m reading Horse by Geraldine Brooks.

Your investment in Johnson County Library generates a 300% return.