"Money Can't Buy Happiness, But It Can Buy A Book."


What were once relatively unused spaces at the Orchard Place Campus, are now three busy libraries and a family sitting room thanks to the organization, New Chapters: Libraries For At-Risk Youth. New Chapters was founded by Stacie Palmer, who has witnessed first-hand the positive results of providing excellent books, reading incentive programming, and the physical transformation of spaces devoted to young readers.

"In an age of online gaming, YouTube, and texting; reading and literacy programming remain as the most researched and proven success factors for at-risk children and young adults," said Palmer. "Children who are living in a crisis shelter or receiving mental health care at a residential treatment facility often do not have the luxury of utilizing a school or public library. New Chapters refurbishes spaces at these facilities into bright, welcoming libraries to make enticing, age-appropriate books readily accessible to these kids. Many of them say that they did not like to read before visiting a New Chapters library and now it’s a favorite pastime. Others say that the books provide a much-needed escape from the difficulties they are facing in their everyday lives."

At Orchard Place, three libraries in the living units at the Campus are now open and being utilized. Residents in the Aliber, Bright, Jacobson, and Shiffler units now have access to books covering a wide variety of genres and reading levels provided by New Chapters. More than 1,300 new books have been donated, as well as bookshelves, paint, carpet, lighting, library-themed art, and furniture.

"Turn-key projects like this are scarce, needed and thoroughly appreciated," said Anne Starr, Orchard Place Chief Executive Officer. "New Chapters is having and will continue to have a positive impact on the children we serve. Comments from the kids and the sheer number of books being checked out to read is inspiring."

All of the work from renovating space, building bookshelves, and designing a relaxing setting for reading has occurred at Orchard Place during the past six months. In addition to Orchard Place, New Chapters has provided similar libraries and reading resources to Youth Emergency Services and Shelter (YESS), Polk County Juvenile Detention Center, and is currently in the process of creating a new library at Youth Homes of Mid-America.

In 2018, the Orchard Place Campus helped 268 children. The average length of stay for those receiving treatment was 5.8 months. The Orchard Place Campus, Child Guidance Center, PACE, and Integrated Health home program provided care to 8,559 Iowa children and youth during that period.

For more information about New Chapters, visit www.newchapterslibraries.org or email newchaptersdsm@gmail.com.