A ‘Spe­cial Friend’ In­deed—

WHO LEADS FROM EX­PE­RI­ENCE

Gulf & Main - - To Your Health -

The Bonita li­brary has a “spe­cial friend” who knows the im­por­tance of li­braries from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence. He­lena Nes­bit, pres­i­dent of the Friends of the Bonita Springs Li­brary, came to the United States from postWorld War II Ger­many as a 4-year-old. Spon­sored by a church to im­mi­grate to Con­necti­cut, no mem­bers of her fam­ily knew the English lan­guage.

But, by luck, there was a li­brary around the cor­ner from their new home. Nes­bit ex­plains that the li­brar­ian there “took me un­der her wing,” teach­ing the young girl about all kinds of words and pic­tures. “I credit her for open­ing up my world,” Nes­bit in­sists. “I grew up lov­ing li­braries.”

Nes­bit’s new­found skills en­abled her to read and ex­plain item la­bels to her mother at the su­per­mar­ket. The over­all ex­pe­ri­ence, she em­pha­sizes, taught her the im­por­tance of li­braries’ hav­ing books as well as news­pa­pers and com­put­ers avail­able for pa­trons of mod­est means. She went on to a ca­reer teach­ing read­ing and writ­ing skills—and much more—in el­e­men­tary schools.

Nes­bit, of Palmira Golf & Coun­try Club in Bonita, looks upon the Friends of the Bonita Springs Li­brary as a char­ity whose pro­ceeds stay close to home. She is pas­sion­ate about rais­ing money—av­er­ag­ing about $15,000 a year— via au­thor talks and sales of donated books, CDs, DVDs and puz­zles, to sup­ple­ment ba­sic Lee County bud­get­ing.

She gath­ers ma­te­ri­als her­self and makes sure un­sold items get good homes. Throw­ing away a book is un­think­able for her.

Nes­bit longs for the ex­tra space on tap for the new li­brary so that pro­grams such as dis­cus­sion groups and au­thor talks can ac­com­mo­date more peo­ple. Gone are the days when the Friends of the Bonita Springs Li­brary would fund a guest speaker for a max­i­mum seated au­di­ence of only 38.

Of­ten, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s board mem­bers would choose to give up their own places for more of the pub­lic to at­tend and en­joy. The up­com­ing new li­brary is a far cry from the orig­i­nal idea of a li­brary in Bonita, which was sparked by a pa­tron ask­ing to bor­row a book from a lo­cal beauty salon in 1949.

—JL

H Neleesnbait

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