The Allen Children’s Library at Joshua’s Place

Article by Anna Muenchen

On Tuesday, April 10, 2018, Joshua’s Place will host a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Allen Children’s Library whose legacy will continue to spur a love for reading after its move into the community center.

“When you ask the kids here, they just love Ms. Peggy and Mr. Dave,” said Susan Simendinger of Joshua’s Place. Simendinger runs the summer and weekly tutoring programs and has recently helped move all the books from the public library Peggy and Dave Allen started years ago into the community center at Joshua’s Place. She believes that the library is a sanctuary for kids.

“It is a touchstone. The kids can come here and they’re greeted by people who care about them,” said Susan. Not only is it a safe place to go, it is a fun place too. With all of the programs the community center offers, she hopes the library can mean something to the children who walk through its doors.

Peggy thought it was very kind of Susan to keep the library open for the community’s use. Hearing that the library’s legacy would continue gave Peggy all the feels. “I was just thinking about the library yesterday and how saddened I was when we had to do away with it. It felt like the right thing to do at the time, but after the 8th or 9th year, you start to question if it even mattered to anyone, so thank you for making me feel like it mattered,” Peggy said.

A lot of Peggy’s motivation for opening up the library in the first place was because, as a kid, the library would have mattered a great deal to her. Peggy stated, “I saw myself in so many of these kids faces and the ones that I have taught over the years. I just wanted them to have access to books!” This is why having the library in the community center is a great place for kids to hone their reading skills.

“We heard about Peggy taking a year off because of the renovations to the old South Lebanon Elementary building where the South Lebanon Summer Library the Allens started is located, and we wanted the kids in the reading programs here to still have access to the books,” said Susan.

In October, South Lebanon Elementary and Kings Mills Elementary students start the Wizkid program at Joshua’s Place sponsored by City Gospel Mission. There are 36 elementary kids that come every Tuesday and spend an hour with a tutor. They get one on one help with a major focus in reading.

“There hasn’t been one child who has come through the program that hasn’t moved up several reading levels,” said Susan.

Although the program comes to an end in April, reading continues well into the summer.

“The whole summer, events will be planned about and around reading! We really want to make sure reading is a focus,” said Susan. This year’s summer reading theme is, where will reading take me? The walls of the library will be covered with maps and the children get to pick a desired destination. With each page they read, depending on grade level, they will advance so many miles from start, and by the end of the program they will get to see if they made it to their destination.

The programs at the community center are not only for the elementary kids but also the older kids. Unplugged is a program at the community center that targets other areas than literacy. In the beginning of the year the fifth and sixth graders focus on refreshing their math skills, by Christmas they work on literacy, and by January and February they enter the science unit.

“They are going to build model rockets, and play battleship with the periodic table. Anything that makes learning fun!” said Susan.

The programs are set up to keep the children afloat. Joshua’s Place provides support for the children along with enhancing their skills, that’s one reason so many kids love to attend the programs. Otherwise the children living in the area wouldn’t get help in reading, math, and science.

“It just makes sense for the library to be in the community center because our summer program used it when it was in the other building, but now kids have direct access to the books every time they come here.”

As the ribbon cutting ceremony commences for the opening of the Allen Children’s Library, the books that fill the bookshelves bring a history of stirring a love for reading. Susan Simendinger is honored to continue that legacy.

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