Lehigh Acres Public Library Association Scholarship to Benefit Greater Lehigh Acres
FORT MYERS, FL - As far as the Lehigh Acres Public Library Association, Inc. (LAPLA) is concerned, recognizing the past is a big part of moving forward. In that spirit, LAPLA has established a $125,000 scholarship endowment with Florida Gulf Coast University, on behalf of Lehigh Acres residents who have contributed to the library's growth and transformation over the past 40 years.
LAPLA Treasurer and Past President Royden W. Parke said the endowment is a fitting appropriation of the money accumulated through donations of several thousand Lehigh Acres residents and organizations toward improvement and enlargement of the Lehigh Acres Public Library, which was located the heart of the downtown community on Homestead Road before being recently replaced with the new East County Regional Library on Gunnery Road.
"Some of our residents have been members of LAPLA for years, contributing books from their own homes to start the library in 1962," Parke said. "Over time, they've contributed money to support library programs, improve the library's services and achieve the goal of enlarging the library facilities.
"This money was given by people who supported the library from its beginning, and the scholarship fund seemed like a good way for them to see their donations become a lasting benefit to the community."
Terry Wolfley, current LAPLA President, said that when Lee County decided to proceed with building the new East County Regional Library and close the downtown Homestead Road structure, the County fully funded the new facility - freeing accumulated LAPLA funds for other community use.
"Our present LAPLA, Inc. Board was unanimous in establishing this scholarship," Wolfley said. "We all decided that the FGCU scholarship fund would be a fitting way to utilize the surplus library donations in a way that will benefit future Lehigh Acres generations."
FGCU will seek matching funds from the State of Florida Ethics in Business Scholarship Program, and will benefit students from the greater Lehigh Acres community, Alva, Buckingham and Riverdale.
Eligible candidates will be undergraduate, degree-seeking students who have taken (or are poised to take) an ethics course, and demonstrate a commitment to performing community service. Although an eye toward a career in library sciences would be the ideal for scholarship recipients, Parke said that all qualified Liberal Arts majors would be considered.
Just as the Lehigh Aces library community has evolved and grown over the decades, Parke believes this new alliance with FGCU is a way to keep in step with the larger Southwest Florida community's development.
"The future is here, you can't turn the clock back so let's move ahead," Parke said. "This scholarship fund honors the heritage of Lehigh Acres' earliest library system, and provides a lasting legacy for those people who believed in, and supported it."