Community Foundation Santa Cruz County has made a major investment in the San Lorenzo Valley, granting $50,000 to sponsor the Community Room in Felton’s new branch library, opening in January 2020.

Nancy Gerdt, co-chair of the Felton Library Friends (FLF) fundraising campaign, said the group asked the foundation to sponsor the library’s largest room, which will serve as the hub for community meetings and enrichment programs.

Community Foundation CEO Susan True called the project “a new cornerstone for our community. It’s a privilege for the foundation to play a part as this long-held dream for the San Lorenzo Valley comes true.” The library will strengthen the civic life of the valley, she said. “Libraries provide so much more than books. They’re dynamic public places that support community and help people improve their lives.”

Gerdt expressed the gratitude of FLF, which is part of Friends of the Santa Cruz County Libraries. “We’re thrilled for the SLV to be recognized by the Community Foundation,” she said. “This generous grant will impact the valley far into the future.” She said the Community Room, which will bear the foundation’s name, will be heavily used by all ages for free programs ranging from art classes to local history talks to presentations on the environment. Environmental education is a major focus of the new library and its adjacent park, concurrently under development by County Parks and also slated for a January opening.

County Library Director Susan Nemitz said the innovative library/park combination creates new opportunities for environmental learning linked to library resources. “Bringing this project to fruition required a strong working relationship between Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Santa Cruz County Parks Department, and Felton Library Friends,” Nemitz said. She also acknowledged the contributions of local elected officials, volunteers, and private donors. “Their support illustrates the community’s commitment to education, indoors and out.”

FLF began fundraising for the project two years ago, seeking to augment Felton’s $10 million share of library bond funds with community donations to pay for library enhancements and create a programming fund. As construction costs rose for both library and park, Assemblymember Mark Stone tapped the state budget to chip in $1 million, and a State Parks grant added $395,000.

“This has been such a unique collaborative effort, involving so many volunteers, donors, and champions,” said the FLF’s Gerdt. She said Felton is helping pioneer a new community-led programming pilot that could serve as a template for the entire 10-branch library system. “Felton library’s Community Room will be the hub for this programming. The Community Foundation’s sponsorship of the room will help make the library an even more valuable resource in the San Lorenzo Valley.”

Kevin Heuer, the foundation’s director of engagement and impact, explained that the grant was made from the Borina Special Places fund, which was established to support facilities that serve youth and seniors and preserve the history of the county. “The new Felton Library gives youth and families a place to learn and seniors a place to gather and find resources,” he said, which more than met the Community Foundation’s criteria. “The library is a place to build community.”

Learn about volunteering at the new Felton library, or support new programming and library enhancements with a tax-deductible gift at feltonlibraryfriends.org, or by mail to Felton Library Friends, P.O. Box 1245, Felton, CA, 95018.

About Community Foundation Santa Cruz County

Community Foundation Santa Cruz County helps make Santa Cruz County a better place to live, for all who call it home, by inspiring people to invest in our community. The Foundation unites people through generosity and strengthens Santa Cruz County by helping donors and their advisors invest wisely in causes they care about, by making grants to local nonprofit organizations, and by providing leadership and impact on issues important to our community’s future. Since 1982, donors have made over $90 million in grants to local causes. (www.cfscc.org)