My KDL Story: Jessica Thelen

"It has changed the way I think about going out, about what you can do on a small budget. Instead of feeling like you have to go to a movie or out to eat, to spend money, the library is something we can do for free as often as we want to..."

Jessica Thelen

As a busy Grand Rapids Community College student who sometimes holds down two jobs in addition to her studies, Jessica Thelen never seemed to have enough time to spend with her younger sisters, Jackie, 17; and Olivia, 7.

She was especially concerned about Olivia.

"I'm going to be going to a four-year school next year, so I really want to spend as much time as I can with her," Jessica explains.

Last year, she decided to take action. Once a week, she sets aside time to visit either the Caledonia or Alto KDL branch with her youngest sister.

"Unlike other places where you have to figure out your schedule and their hours, the library is always here," Jessica says. "We can always find a way to meet at a library."

On a recent visit to the Alto branch, Olivia has checked out a half-dozen books, including The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame and Small Florence: Piggy Pop Star by Claire Alexander.

"The judges hear her voice but they can't see her, and they're like, 'Find that voice!'" explains Olivia, who admits she too likes to sing.

"So does my mom," she says.

Jessica, an avid reader, is encouraged to see her little sister develop a love of books.

"Her reading is improving, she loves going to the library and she always asks when we're going back. She has developed the same love of reading that I have, and it only took a few trips."

The dedicated sister-sister bonding time has had another, unexpected benefit.

"It has changed the way I think about going out, about what you can do on a small budget," Jessica said. "Instead of feeling like you have to go to a movie or out to eat, to spend money, the library is something we can do for free as often as we want to."

 

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