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FORT WORTH (January 25, 2019) – It’s well established that children benefit from reading and from having books read aloud to them. But, when a family is homeless, books are often unavailable, much less provided in a cozy place for story time.
That’s why volunteers decided to create a reading library at The Salvation Army’s Mabee Social Service Center in Fort Worth. The cozy room is now stocked with hundreds of books and offers a great place for parents and volunteers to read to the 40-60 children who are typically sheltered with their families each night at the Mabee Center, 1855 E. Lancaster Avenue in Fort Worth.
In addition, volunteers from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fort Worth can now use the library as an inviting space for monthly visits from their comfort dogs, golden retrievers trained to interact with people who are suffering or in need. Children can enjoy snuggling up with a friendly canine companion, as well as reading their favorite books.
Members of the media are invited to stop by story time at the Mabee Center on Monday, Jan. 28, at 6:30 p.m. Children will enjoy a visit from the comfort dogs and story time readings from volunteers. Volunteers who created the library will be reading stories to the children.
Fort Worth Salvation Army volunteers Concetta Ledig, DC, and Erik Ledig, MD, started the library with an initial donation of books and a few bookshelves. Then, volunteers Ken and Linda Majka donated hundreds of children’s books to fill the rest of the library. They also recruited members of the Boy Scouts of America Troop 17, based at St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, to build and install bookshelves to fill the rest of the library -- as part of an Eagle Scout project.
“Reading and books have always been important to my wife and me,” said Kenneth Majka, who is retired from Colonial Savings. “When I saw the Mabee Center’s existing reading room, I knew that with some help, it could be expanded to fulfill a need. Linda began her career as a children’s librarian at the Arlington Public Library and later became an elementary school teacher in the Arlington ISD. Reading and story time have been a part of her life through the years.”
The Salvation Army’s Mabee Center Executive Director Beckie Wach said that the library is already providing a positive experience for the Mabee Center’s clients.
“One evening this week, I was walking through the shelter and saw a mom reading to her little one,” Wach shared. “Her son would point at a picture of a duck or rabbit in the book and repeat the animals’ names after his mom. It is evident that this was her time to have some closure to their day that was positive and soothing to her toddler. Their world is so chaotic; it was a peaceful time that they both needed. Reading together creates a bond, and she was capitalizing on that moment to bond.”
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