Fate Struck

Mendota Rotary Club member Jessica Dykstra levels a stand for the Story Walk in front of the Graves-Hume Public Library while her husband, Alan Dykstra, stirs the concrete mix to strengthen the foundation. The Rotary’s Susan Paugels shovels dirt into the upcoming stand holes to make sure they’re all the same height. The Story Walk is a combined effort from the Mendota Rotary Club and the Graves-Hume Public Library.

Mendota Rotary Club, Graves-Hume Library partner for Story Walk


Staff writer

MENDOTA – Jessica Dykstra and Emily Kofoid had unionized before to have a Mary Lincoln Todd performer come to Mendota.

With a partnership already solidified, when Dykstra received grant money for the Mendota Rotary Club, she decided to stop in at Graves-Hume Public Library and see if the director, Kofoid, had any projects with need of grant money.

“Fate struck for this to happen. We had the grant without a project and the library had the project without the grant,” Dykstra said. “The Story Walk is something unique to Mendota. It’s a long-term project and it is going to be forever changing as the library plans to change the book seasonally.”

Kofoid and the library had talked about The Story Walk Project for some time, but nothing came to fruition.

When Dykstra asked the question, Kofoid immediately had an answer.

“This is a great opportunity for people to get outside and read a book. Hopefully, they’ll come into the library and find more books they like,” Kofoid said. “We would love to eventually have crafts and programs coordinated with the book that is on the Story Walk. We will change the book seasonally.”

“We wanted to do the Story Walk for a long time, I just didn’t know how to implement it. When Jessica Dykstra came to me and asked if there was anything the Mendota Rotary Club could do to help the library, I immediately said yes and told her about the Story Walk. I thought it was perfect.”

The Story Walk has 16 plaques, which all 16 holes were dug by the City of Mendota staff, for a book to be placed and read.

The first plaque has to be about the Story Walk, how it originated. The Story Walk Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Story Walk is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson.

However, the other 15 stands will be used to tell a story. Any story, as there are no restrictions.

“The initiative is to get people outside but to also be creative and show we’re not a stuffy old library like the old stereotypes tell people,” Kofoid said. “We’re not just four walls anymore. The library does different things and wants to be there for anyone. We can have any book on the Story Walk. We have to buy three books for Story Walk because we have to slice two of them for the pages to work on the plaques and then one for the library for checkout.

“It’s really awesome to partner with the Rotary. I can’t do half of the stuff we do without the help of other organizations in Mendota. We can’t do anything in Mendota by ourselves. We’re a community and should be partnering for events and projects. It takes a village.”

Dykstra and the Rotary Club feel the same way.

Like she said, fate struck.

“I’m really glad that we were able to make it happen,” Dykstra said. “For the Rotary, we applied for a grant to be able to create the Story Walk. The focus of the year for last year was literacy. Every year there are grants available and there are very specific criteria for the grants. The other times we looked at getting a grant for a project, we just couldn’t meet all of the criteria.

“With this, the Story Walk, being a literacy project, it worked out for us to apply and be approved for the grant.”

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