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East County Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021 7 months ago

Friends host fundraiser for East County Library in Lakewood Ranch

After a long delay, the Friends of the East County Library host an author's luncheon at the Lakewood Ranch Country Club.
by: Scott Lockwood Staff Writer

With $14.9 million approved in the Manatee County budget in September for a new library in Lakewood Ranch, the Friends of the East County Library has been excited about raising money to supplement the library's resources.

However, attempts to hold fundraisers have been thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That changed Oct. 6 when the group hosted Mary Walton for an Author's Luncheon at the Lakewood Ranch Country Club. Walton was selling and signing copies of her latest book "A Woman’s Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot."

Ninety-five people attended the luncheon and Walton said it was an honor to take part in the event.

“I couldn't be more pleased to be here for a cause that's just so worthy,” Walton said of raising money to stock the new library. "A library is the soul of the community. I believe in libraries, so I couldn't be happier.”

It was the first major fundraiser for Friends of the East County Library since the start of the pandemic.

“It's very exciting to be able to get the word out to the community that the library is coming and to find out what services they would like for us to provide to the library, which is what Friends of the East County Library does,” said Regina Negrycz, vice president of the organization and a member of its board of directors.

Negrycz gave examples of what the money they raise might provide, such as hotspots for WiFi access, children's activities or genealogy programs to help people do their searches at the library. The organization also will sponsor programs, such as summer reading for children.

The library's opening is targeted for 2024.

Sue Ann Miller, president of the Friends of the East County Library, said the author's event raised more than $10,000. Besides ticket sales to the event, revenue was made from proceeds from the sale of Walton's book, auctioned gift baskets and a raffle.

The organization will sponsor programs, like summer reading for children. Funds raised will go toward extras that won't be included in the construction process for the facility that is expected to open in 2024.

The Friends of the East County Library had previously raised $25,000 so now is more than halfway toward its goal of raising $65,000 before the library opens.

While many library support groups mostly fund extra programs, the Friends of the East County Library has been tasked with purchasing other things that will elevate the new library.

Several members of the organization have for years hoped a new library would be built in the area.

Janice Novello and Ginny Orenstein helped start a fund for a Lakewood Ranch library more than 20 years ago and they now are excited the time is getting near.

Orenstein, who moved to Lakewood Ranch in January 1999, said she had years ago convinced a prominent member of the community to donate $10,000 to a new library, but plans never went forward.

“He had pledged the first $10,000 that we never got to collect because we could never get (the library)," Orenstein said. "There just wasn't enough here then. It was a small area and I think there were 2,000 residents at that time.”

Novello is glad things have changed.

“We are so past ready," she said. "We have a whole community and this library is going to address the needs of our community. We had a lot of brainstorming and thinking and planning. We had to take those plans that we had 20 years ago, and bring them up to what is needed in our community now. It's going to be wonderful.”


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