Welcome: People to Know
One of the things that many parents and children look forward to is the Summer Reading Program that kicks June 1 and runs through July 31. More than just a program that encourages summer reading for children, the special programs at all of the Allen County Public Library branches help keep kids in learning mode even when they’re out of school.
Putting that program together each year is a labor of love for Marra Honeywell, youth services manager for Allen County Public Library. The city is fortunate to have her especially since she first dismissed the idea of applying for the job. It was at the persuasion of Jen McKinney, the children’s librarian at the Tecumseh branch that she eventually decided to apply.
“Jen and I have known each other for a bazillion years,” said Honeywell. “I had just graduated and was looking for my first job, and Jen told me the library was looking for a children’s librarian. I said no at first, but she finally talked me into it.” Honeywell earned her master’s degree in library science.
To talk to Honeywell now, and to hear the enthusiasm in her voice as she talks about the library’s mission and its summer reading program, is to know that she can easily talk others into becoming librarians. As she talks about one program, Paws to Read, where children get to read to trained therapy dogs, her joy is contagious.
“That’s the kind of magic I get to do,” she said. “The summer reading program is like planning a party for the entire community. It’s like wrapping up a great big gift and waiting for people to unwrap it.”
The reading program still provides prizes for a prescribed amount of reading, but it has become much more. Each branch has numerous events throughout the summer, and schedules for each branch are available online. The program is funded by a generous grant from the Foellinger Foundation.
“We serve free lunches and snacks at eight of our locations thanks to the foundation and the Fort Wayne Community Schools and the USDA,” said Honeywell. “There are 52,000 people in Allen County that are food insecure, and with this program we are able to provide children and teens a healthy meal in an enriching environment where they can also attend programs that help lessen the learning gap between the school years. The program is about being engaged in learning all year.”
While there are several popular art fairs throughout the region, the Covington Art Fair, which takes place June 22-23 at Covington Plaza, is one of the favorites for those who love to shop for art. Now in its 27th year, the fair was first conceived as a way to bring more people to Covington Plaza. Although there are many regulars who visit the Covington Art Fair each year, one person who had not visited the fair was Glenda Stoppenhagan.
“I had been working with the Asher Agency for 13 years,” she said. “I was at a meeting, and I was told that I would be the coordinator for the Covington Art Fair.”
A native of Wells County, Stoppenhagan has lived in Fort Wayne most of her adult life. While she may not have initially been familiar with the artists with whom she now works, after more than 12 years, she has the Covington Art Fair running like a well-oiled machine.
Stoppenhagan not only learned about art fairs, but she has also learned about the artists who participate in the fair.
“Over the years I’ve enjoyed getting to know the artists. I’ve developed some great friendships. And we have 4,000 to 5,000 people come out each year to see their work.”