Visiting a Shelter

By Beth Sloan, JWI Board of Trustees

Leonard and Beth Sloan present a plaque at the dedication of JWI's 42 children's library.

Perhaps the most rewarding experience I have had since joining JWI’s Board of Trustees occurred last week when my husband and I had the opportunity to visit The Lodge, a battered women’s shelter in Miami, to dedicate the newest addition to our National Library Initiative.  It was my first experience at a shelter, and further opened my eyes to the needs and complicated issues of providing safety, security and a hopeful future to victims of domestic violence.

I was most impressed by the dedication and efforts of the staff of the shelter, and the caring and professionalism with which they approached their mission.  Seeing the small room which we dedicated as a library to provide a safe haven for the youngest victims of domestic violence – its bright and cheerful carpet, the inviting adult and child-size rocking chairs and the already bulging bookshelf  – made us feel as joyful as the youngest shelter residents who were invited to begin using it while we were there.  Without question this room will become their safe and comfortable place to read, learn and grow.  And when they find a new home, they will be able to take books with them to begin building their own library.

Children rush to explore the books in their new library.

Like more than 12 others so far, this library was made possible with the generous support of Verizon Wireless,  and there are more to come.  But the most incredible thing was that as I mentioned that this was the 42nd library JWI has opened around the country, the COO of the shelter almost gasped!  She pointed out the coincidence in the fact that the shelter was the 42nd one accredited to open in the State of Florida!  Is this beshert (fate)?

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