SPRINGFIELD, MA September 9, 2021 – The Springfield Library Foundation is pleased to announce that the six children of former City Solicitor William White and his wife Patricia have joined together to make a $200,000 commitment to the Promise Realized Capital Campaign for the new East Forest Park Library. A formal presentation ceremony with Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno to announce the gift was held at the East Forest Park Branch on September 9.
“On behalf of my sister and brothers, I am grateful that we have this opportunity to make a meaningful and lasting contribution to East Forest Park, the wonderful neighborhood where we were raised, and to future generations of Springfield residents,” said Thomas White. “We were so happy when our close family friend Bob Phelan raised the idea of the new library to us. When we came and visited Springfield and toured the new library last fall, my sister Maureen, John, and I were deeply impressed by the quality of the design the thought and care that went into creating such beautiful facilities for children, teens, and families.”
In recognition of the family’s gift, the Library will name the Children’s Place in honor of William and Patricia White. Plans are underway to hold a celebration at the East Forest Park Branch in the fall of 2021 to recognize all donors to the Promise Realized Campaign, at which time donor plaques and room names will be unveiled to the public.
“The Library Foundation wants to express its sincere and heartfelt thanks to the entire family for stepping up with such a generous leadership gift during these extraordinarily challenging times,” said Library Foundation President Patrick Markey. “This commitment demonstrates the strength of the bonds between our City of Springfield and families who have moved away but retain roots here. I hope this gift inspires others to give as well.”
The Whites, who worked closely with the Library Foundation to coordinate and structure the gift believe their parents would be delighted to know that the Children’s Room will bear their names in perpetuity. “Our parents loved raising our family in East Forest Park and they both believed fundamentally in the power of reading and public libraries to transform lives and open doors to opportunity. To be able to play a part in inspiring ongoing generations of children to explore and expand their possibilities through reading would certainly have brought them great joy. Our trip back to Springfield was made more memorable because we were able to meet up with Charlie Ryan, our father’s childhood friend and former law partner, along with Barbara Garvey, also a friend and neighbor. Both Charlie and Barbara have worked tirelessly to make the new library a reality,” commented Maureen White.
According to Matt Blumenfeld, the Library Foundation’s Executive Director, the Promise Realized Campaign has now raised just over $1.65 million toward its $2 million goal to close out the campaign and complete the $9.5 million project.
“While we have paused active fundraising for some time because of the pandemic, we do want to relaunch as soon as conditions warrant,” said Mr. Blumenfeld. “The Foundation has continued to receive contributions for the campaign as well as other purposes, but we remain mindful and respectful of other urgent needs in the community. I am incredibly thankful to the White family for sparking our relaunch with their wonderful philanthropic gift.”
Construction on the 17,000 square foot East Forest Park Branch on Surrey Road was completed in November 2019 and the facility opened with tremendous praise from the community in December. “Usage at East Forest Park Branch skyrocketed before we had to close, and we remain confident that it will continue to grow once we can fully reopen,” said Library Director Molly Fogarty. “Our staff are all grateful to John White and his siblings for this wonderful gift and cannot wait to see the Children’s Room once again full of youngsters and caregivers reading, learning and playing together.”
In addition to the 4,000 square foot Children’s Room, the East Forest Park Branch offers a dedicated Teen area, a Maker Space, a large community meeting room, quiet study rooms, dozens of computer stations, book and media collections, an outdoor patio and reading garden, and ample parking. It is completely accessible to all.
Individuals, businesses and others interested in contributing may contact the Springfield Library Foundation, at firstname.lastname@example.org or MBlumenfeld@springfieldlibrary.org for further information. The campaign is accepting pledges for up to five years.
“The Library Foundation has been a strong steward of many gifts large and small, and we intend to continue this legacy far into the future,” said Mr. Markey. “Since 2005, the Foundation has contributed more than $6.5 million to the Springfield City Library, for books and materials, in support of the Mason Square branch, and for staff development and library programs. The Promise Realized Campaign continues this legacy and enables all of us to make a positive contribution to the future of the City of Springfield.”