Monday, May 23, 2011

Career Day with Rebecca Reyna

Career Day at the Cook Library Center is always a great opportunity for youth to learn about different options for the future. Careers in the health industry have been a hot topic lately, so it was a perfect time for Rebecca Reyna, a Prenatal Educator at Spectrum Health, to come in and talk with students about what she does.

Rebecca talked with the students about health and nutrition, along with what it's like to work in the field. Students got a chance to hear about nursing careers, and how choosing these careers is a commitment to help others stay healthy. The session ended with a great Q&A session, where students got the chance to get real answers from a health-care professional.

To go along with the talk about health and nutrition, the YMCA was there to provide a healthy snack. Everyone worked together to make yogurt smoothies and got first hand experience making healthy choices!

Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities administers the programs of the Cook Library Center.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Volunteering: Making a Difference, Then and Now

Volunteers have always played an important role at both of GAAH's facilities. When I hear stories about the incredible commitment of so many Grand Rapid's volunteers throughout the years, I am always impressed and humbled. People have come from all different parts of Grand Rapids to donate time, money, resources and open arms for those in need, and the Grandville Avenue neighborhood is forever changed as a result.

One group of volunteers that has been with us from the start is the group known as the Dominican Sisters. Fifteen years ago in 1996, our very first librarian was a volunteer from the Grand Rapids Dominicans, Sister Joan Pichette. Working with Mary Angelo, the Executive Director of the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association, the Dominican Sisters helped turn the dream of a library into a reality.

Sister Jeanne Marie Jones was the next volunteer librarian who made a huge impact on the community. Through countless volunteer hours and a solid commitment to improve lives in the neighborhood through reading and access to important library resources, she proved that volunteering really does make a difference, not just for one person, but for entire communities. Below is an old letter that was written to the community by Sister Jeanne Marie Jones, back when the Cook Library Center was just getting off of it's feet.

The Dominican Sisters did not just donate their energy once and move on to other parts of Grand Rapids - they are still with us today, actively supporting our programs at the Cook Arts Center and the Cook Library Center, donating supplies, mentoring youth, and continually proving that they are still invested in our community. Sister Katheryn Sleziak is always thinking of different ways to help us make a difference. Making a donation of much-needed paper and setting aside two entire weeks for volunteers to help out at the Cook Library Center with their Called to Serve program are just a couple of the things that have impacted us this month. Below is a picture of some young Dominican Sister volunteers who are a part of the Called to Serve program. They are currently in their second week of tutoring students, doing craft projects, and helping out in any way they can.

Calvin College volunteers also have a history of dedication to this community and our organization. Many years ago, Matt Flemming became one of the first Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities volunteers, spending countless hours tutoring students as the library began making itself known as a place for after-school resources.

Today, Calvin College volunteers come to both of our facilities on a regular basis to help with homework, reading, art classes, and events. The Boer Bennink dorm has"adopted" the Grandville Avenue neighborhood and sends volunteers to our organization every year, continuing their commitment even after students graduate and move away.

The Dominican Sisters and Calvin College have proven that with great community partners who truly invest in people and communities, Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities will continue to thrive and take every opportunity to improve lives in the Grandville Avenue neighborhood. We can never say thank you enough to any and all of those who have helped us make a difference.

Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities administers the programs of the Cook Arts Center and the Cook Library Center.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Out and About

The weather has been spectacular this week and Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities has been been welcoming spring and all of the fun it brings. We've been heading out into the greater Grand Rapids community for a variety of spring activities.

This week, the Grand Rapids Public Library is celebrating Children's Book Week and the Cook Arts Center has sent two artists out to eight different library branches to help our entire Grand Rapids community celebrate reading and the arts. A Froggy or Fancy Nancy book is read at each location and then everyone has a chance to create some art based on the story. There's still time to catch one of these fun, family activities at one of the following locations!

Saturday, May 7, 10:30 am Seymour Branch
Saturday, May 7, 11:00 am West Leonard Branch
Saturday, May 7, 3:00 pm Van Belkum Branch

While the Cook Arts Center has been busy with great art activities, the Cook Library Center staff and students were off visiting Calvin College. Kids had a blast checking out different parts of the campus and spending time with Calvin students. After arriving on campus and being welcomed with hugs and smiles, everyone headed straight for the dining hall, where students of all ages enjoyed a college campus meal together . Dinner was followed by some running on the track, soccer, bracelet making, and pool and Foosball in the basement of Boer-Bennink Hall, the dorm that sponsors Grandville Arts & Humanities.

Throughout the year, volunteers from Boer-Bennink and other Calvin dorms have made a huge impact on the lives of Grandville Avenue students; helping with homework, leading activities, volunteering in the classrooms at the Cook Arts Center, and most importantly, being positive mentors and role models who come just to spend time with our students. We truly appreciate all that they do for our community and wish them all the good luck on their final exams this week.

Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities administers the programs of the Cook Arts Center and the Cook Library Center.