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West Palm Beach Library Foundation Director, Tami Lesser, Speaks About The Role Of The Mandel Public Library Of West Palm Beach. A Library Is More Than A Building Filled With Books

The Mandel Public Library in West Palm Beach is truly a community center!  Our interview with Tami Lesser, West Palm Beach Library Foundation Director gives you more insight to serving 760,000 people each year! Programs at the Library are FREE to you…yet not free to the Library.  Save Saturday, April 4 for Food for ThoughtCall to reserve your spot for a Tour of the Library!  From personal visits, discussions with library staff and the West Palm Beach Library Foundation personnel, The Rickie Report shares the importance of what this library is providing and can provide in the future. Has anyone noticed their “411” address = “Information, please”?  We give you a comprehensive list of all programs available!








West Palm Beach Library Foundation




“Public libraries are the sole community centers left in America. The degree to which a branch of the local library is connected to the larger culture is a reflection of the degree to which the community itself is connected to the larger culture.” – Russell Banks


TRR:  We are excited to welcome you!  Tell us more about your role .



As the new Executive Director of the Library Foundation, I have quickly come to understand and experience these meaningful words by celebrated American writer Russell Banks. The Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach is much more than a building filled with books; it is vital institution that enriches and strengthens our local community.


Your generous support allows us to continue to provide an educational and inspirational center where children can excel and adults can thrive. Gifts to the Foundation support these fundamental programs, services and resources for our community members who need them most.


TRR:  Can you give us some specific examples of what you offer beyond books?



Every day, I witness magical moments at the Library that showcase the difference we are making in people’s lives:

– Young adults continue their education and earn their High School diploma or earn a job thanks to our job training programs.

– Our senior community stays active with fitness classes and stays engaged by meeting friends for lectures, jazz concerts, and art classes.

– Teens receive guidance from a mentor, learn new skills in job readiness programs, get help with schoolwork from certified teachers, or just hang out with their friends in a safe and creative space.

– Children actively learn, discover and explore while doing homework or reading, and have fun with music, arts and crafts, dance and more.

– Families connect with each other and meet new friends during storytimes, baby yoga, self-lead activities and special events.


Dog Tales at Mandel Public Library



TRR:  Tell us more about “community building”



This Library is a Community Builder – the structure, the wonderful staff and the programs and resources offered are all aiding, encouraging and shaping our community programs in a remarkable and critical way!


The library serves over 760,000 people each year, providing our children, teens, and adults endless opportunities for learning, growth, enrichment, inspiration, entertainment and so much more.


The Library Foundation’s mission is to raise funds for the Library to provide the free quality programs, services and resources that enrich and strengthen our diverse community. A great public library depends on a partnership between private philanthropy and public funding from the City. Because of our generous donors, we have a gem in our community that serves as a center for learning, inspiration and creativity.


To express our appreciation, I am excited to share that we have launched the WPB Library Foundation Giving Society to recognize our supporters, who contribute a minimum of $1,000 annually to the Library Foundation. Our first Giving Society event will be on March 11 with celebrated columnist and author, Leslie Streeter.

Please see our newsletter below for more information about the Giving Society and the March 11 event as well as other important news. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available now for our main event, Food for Thought, which takes place on Saturday evening, April 4.

If you have not yet come on a library tour, please let me know and we will make it happen. I look forward to seeing you soon!



Teens at Mandel Public Library



Programs We Fund:

From providing technological support, to highlighting different cultures, to a vast array of programs and services, the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach presents many new, unique, and interesting events that are free to the public – but, of course, not really free for the Library. For example, the West Palm Beach Library Foundation has supported programs and utilities such as:

  • Baby and toddler yoga classes
  • Equipment, so computers are fully accessible for children
  • Teen Mentoring and Support for high-risk teens
  • Get that Job Programs, preparing youth and adults for the working world
  • GED Programs so individuals obtain high school diplomas
  • Children and Teen Homework help Centers with certified teachers
  • Children’s Summer Academy with a free healthy lunch every day
  • Technology classes/ Girls Can Code classes
  • Art classes
  • Dog Tales


For the child inspired to read on her own after attending story time … the student who needs high-tech computer access to complete his homework assignments … the new resident seeking connections in the community … the job hunter preparing for an interview … the small business owner researching marketing techniques … or the senior who masters sending emails so they can stay in contact with friends and family across the country … the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach is here to serve the entire community.

Now is the time for those with the capability to step up and lend support to ensure a strong, accessible, enriching public library for generations to come.

The following are just a few of the programs the West Palm Beach Library Foundation has supported at the Mandel Public Library. To find out how you can support these and other programs, call the Library Foundation at 561-868-7793.



Arts411 at Mandel Public Library


The After School Elementary Homework Center helps children excel in all academic programs.  Located in the heart of the Children’s Library, the center’s certified teachers use creative and interactive teaching methods to assist children.

The Teen Homework Center on the second floor in the teen section of the Library provides high-risk teens with a safe environment where they receive academic support. They have the opportunity to meet with other teens to work on projects in the arts, sciences, and math.  The Library becomes a place where teens receive help with academics while developing and building life skills.

Science Projects 101 helps low-income children achieve gains in scientific literacy.  Since many children lack support at home to complete science projects. During two-hour sessions, students and parents learn about the scientific method and receive kits which include materials needed to complete their science projects.  Pre- and post-survey results have shown that children who participate in the program substantially improve their science knowledge and grades in school.

Children’s Summer Academy minimizes or reverses “Summer Slide” for low income children.  This six-week program provides a safe, accessible learning environment which enables children to maintain and build their skills in reading, writing, science, and math.  Breakfast and lunch are provided as incentives to attend the programs and to provide the energy needed to fully engage in the learning process. 

The Summer Reading Program for preschool- and elementary-age children. This program encourages these children to complete reading logs, which track the number of books they read. Every week, children receive books to help them build their home libraries.  Books selected by the children have included Caps for Sale, A Pocket for Corduroy, Flat Stanley, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Magic Tree House series, Bad Kitty, Captain Underpants, Charlotte’s Web, and James and the Giant Peach.

Early Literacy Bilingual Computer Stations in our KidSpace strengthen the skills of preschoolers to promote school-readiness. These computer stations enable the Library to expand its outreach to young children who have limited or no access to computers at home and at school. At the Mandel Public Library, the Early Literacy Computer Stations increase the Library’s ability to meet school-readiness goals for both English and non-English speakers.

Dog Tales provides reluctant readers with opportunities to read aloud to trained therapy dogs that listen to these young readers so they can develop a love of reading and improve their reading comprehension.  With dogs present six days a week during the school year and three days a week during the summer, Dog Tales has become a treasured program.  The Library ensures that new Library Edition books are available for the children who participate in the program.

Let’s Read is a volunteer-based literacy program that improves the reading skills of children. Annually, forty volunteers trained in the art of reading aloud bring story times to 1,800 students in four academically struggling schools. This results in children developing stronger reading skills and a love for books.  Children in the program receive gift books to build their home libraries.  Children served through this program begin to develop a lifelong relationship with the value of the printed word and begin to see reading as an enjoyable experience.

Teen Mentoring builds self-esteem and provides teens with the confidence and motivation they need to be successful in life. Teens come to the Library and discover a safe haven where they will receive homework help, get advice on life’s challenges, make friends who have similar interests, and receive assistance with job readiness, GED, and college preparedness. At-risk teens acquire the skills needed to become outstanding, responsible citizens.  A variety of activities designed with their needs in mind, such as lectures, arts and crafts, poetry slams, and group technology projects, help them develop a more positive outlook on the future.

Young Adult to Senior Adult programs abound at the Library as recreational, educational, and cultural settings. The Library provides free skill-building, physically engaging, and diverse life experiences which are not found anywhere else.  Tango, swing dance, yoga, and Pilates are just a handful of the classes offered at the Library. Imaginations soar and educational opportunities thrive for tens of thousands of people every week.

Job Readiness Programs, underemployed, and unemployed young people and adults eager to find work and/or full-time positions take place through out the year.  Due to their lack of computer and job readiness skills, adults receive assistance in preparing resumes, writing cover letters, preparing for interviews, gaining computer program knowledge, and improving writing skills.

Studio 411 Art Classes and Lectures   is a comprehensive studio space for the library’s popular range of arts programs, where  artistic adults can create, explore, and learn about a variety of arts and crafts from painting, drawing and sculpture to crocheting, soap-making and even jewelry-making…with all supplies included!  This studio provides so many adults in our community an outlet to be creative, develop their talents, and learn from local artists.
Arts programming at the Mandel Public Library is funded by the West Palm Beach Library Foundation supported by YOUR generous donations.





VIP Cocktail Reception with Black Widow Author Leslie Gray Streeter for Giving Society Members

Join Leslie Gray Streeter, The Palm Beach Post columnist and new author, for a discussion of her memoir,
Black Widow: A Sad/Funny Journey Through Grief for People Who Normally Avoid Books with Words Like “Journey” in the Title 

MARCH 11, 2020  Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM  VIP Cocktail Reception for WPB Library Foundation Giving Society
Meet the celebrated columnist and new author during her book launch tour.
Members will receive a signed copy of the book, and complimentary valet parking at the Library Book Drop on Clematis Street.
Reserve your seat at 561-868-7715 or
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Black Widow Book Discussion & Signing,

FREE and open to the public



Last day to pledge:

 Wednesday, February 26 at 9 pm



Just make a donation of $20 or more to our charity page on theAmerican Honda Birdies for Childrenwebsite and then guess the total number of birdies that will be made by the entire field in the four rounds of the 2020 Honda Classic golf tournament.  To help you along, they provide you with the total number of birdies made in each of the last ten tournaments.  Best of all, 110% of your donation will benefit the WPBLF.


Donate here to benefit the WPBLF and make your best birdies guess:



2020 Food For Thought    Saturday, April 4, 2020

6:30 – 9:30 PM

Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach   411 Clematis Street | West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Complimentary Valet at the Library Book Drop on Clematis Street. You’re invited to an elegant dinner party featuring notable authors and personalities leading an array of lively discussions. Choose your table host to converse, inquire, and engage with this expert, and guests of similar interest, about your favorite topic. Gain insights about varied topics including the arts, architecture, culture, current affairs, entertainment, history, literature, music, news, science, and more. Dinner will be served in the impressive ‘Grand Reading Room on the 4th Floor. Your support benefits the free quality programs, services and resources at the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach that enrich and strengthen our diverse community. Peruse the menu of great conversations and table hosts on our website   Cocktail Attire.  The vision of the West Palm Beach Library  Foundation is to create an inspired community where children excel and adults thrive. After purchasing you tickets we will contact you to chose your table host our you are welcome to call: Nickie Hennevelt 561-868-7715 Sponsorship opportunities please call: Nickie Hennevelt 561-868-7715




For more information:


Mail a check to the West Palm Beach Library Foundation:

411 Clematis Street  3rd Floor  West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Call Tami Lesser at 561-868-7793

To join the Giving Society, contact Executive Director Tami Lesser
at 561-868-7793    Levels starting at $1,000 minimum annually.








For coverage of your events, to place an advertisement, or speak to Rickie about appearing in The Rickie Report, contact:

Rickie Leiter, Publisher   561-537-0291

17019 SW Sapri Way   Port St. Lucie, FL 34986




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