An early lesson in my life was that we must never lose sight of the power of volunteers. They help to fill shelves at a food pantry, run festivals for individuals with developmental disabilities, mentor students, make calls on behalf of their child’s PTA, and commit themselves to ensuring their community is stronger, better, more vibrant, and safe. It’s the spirit of volunteers that drives missions to be fulfilled, goals to be reached, and visions to become reality.
Prospective rendering of the forum at the new Maplewood Memorial Library, via the Maplewood Memorial Library Foundation
In 2010, a group of dedicated leaders founded the Maplewood Memorial Library Foundation with the purpose of raising awareness and philanthropic support for the Maplewood Memorial Library. They knew that the library of 2010 was not necessarily the library of 2022. A Board of Directors was formed, nonprofit status was applied for and approved, and the Foundation began its journey to engage the Maplewood community in investing in their Library.
Today, 12 years later, in partnership with the Maplewood Library Board of Trustees, the Maplewood Township Committee, the Friends of the Library, the Director and Staff of the Library, and the residents and businesses of Maplewood, what began as just words on a page became the successful Writing a New Story Capital Campaign. Maplewood Library Foundation is comprised of all volunteers, representing every corner of Maplewood – parents, executives, writers, and readers. It has been their work that has led to capturing the support of a community and providing over $1.6 million in philanthropic support to the historic Maplewood Library renovation project.
Early in their planning, the Foundation Board undertook a Feasibility Study to determine whether the community would give to a Capital Campaign. The Study results were positive and laid the groundwork for what would become the Writing a New Story Campaign – a public/private effort that continues today.
Early support from the Township Committee of Maplewood, led by Mayor Vic DeLuca, provided the initial funding confidence for the project. The State of New Jersey provided $8.4 million from the Library Bond Act. A $22 million effort was borne and it proved successful on a variety of levels.
With an immediate goal of $1 million, the Foundation Board, in partnership with Sobel Bixel: Consulting for Nonprofits, began meeting with Maplewoodians to discuss the plans. They hosted business receptions and neighborhood gatherings. One on one and family meetings were conducted in homes and backyards. And each story told by a volunteer Board member about the impact of a new library was met with enthusiasm and appreciation for the planning and the follow through for the project. Challenge gifts were presented and the community responded. Grant proposals were submitted, and foundations awarded grants. A town-wide mailing appealing for support was met with great success.
This was a community effort, for all. Each corner of Maplewood was invited to participate in this historic campaign. And after years of planning, determination, grit, and commitment to the development process of cultivating, soliciting, recognizing, and stewarding those who would give to the Library, initial goals were met and exceeded. The spirit of the volunteers remains strong. The Foundation Board carries on their work today, speaking with one voice and with one common mission – to support the Maplewood Library and to see to it that their neighbors have a state-of-the-art Library, open to all.