The Mill Valley Public Library was honored to be the recipient of a $10,000 grant from the Walker Rezaian Memorial Fund, designated to be used to create new programs and support existing programs within the Children's Division of the Library.
This gift was given in conjunction with support of the Storybook Ball, the annual Mill Valley Library Foundation event that fundraises for library programs for children and teens.
Walker's untimely death in 2011, when he was a kindergarten student, deeply saddened the community. In providing the memorial fund grant to the Library, the Rezaian family wanted to give back to the community that supported them upon Walker's death, as well as to keep Walker's memory alive for future generations of young library users.
Walker was a fun-loving and outgoing five-year-old with many interests, including soccer, art, and swimming. He and his father Ali also very much enjoyed visiting the Mill Valley Library, located just across the street from Old Mill School, where Walker was a student.
"Though the circumstances of receiving this grant are heartbreaking, the Library is grateful for the opportunity to develop new children's programs," said Anji Brenner, City Librarian.
According to Children's Librarian Jessica Ryan, who is developing some of the programs, new offerings will include arts and literacy-based programming for kindergarteners, as well as programs such as Lego-building workshops that will teach participants S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills. While the majority of programs being developed with this grant will be for children in grades K-5, a few programs are being planned for middle school students, including creative writing workshops and a summer reading program.
The Library believes that children in the community who take advantage of these programs will be both moved and changed in positive ways by the experiences offered, whether these are first exposures to the Library, explorations of books through art-related programs, or through the creativity and excitement of building projects in the Lego program.
"Of the children who attend programs made possible by the Walker Rezaian Memorial Fund, some may have personal memories of Walker and some may not," said Brenner. "But we believe that all of them will remember the experiences made possible through this grant."
The funding provided by the Walker Rezaian Memorial Fund, along with additional financial support provided by Storybooks, a fundraising subcommittee of the Mill Valley Library Foundation, will allow the Library to introduce new programming to the community in early 2014. In recognition of this grant, Storybooks dedicated the 2013 Storybook Ball to the memory of Walker Rezaian.