Our Story

by Stacie Palmer, New Chapters Founder

During the fall of 2011, I toured Youth Emergency Services and Shelter (YESS) in Des Moines, Iowa. I was immediately drawn to the kids who resided there and felt called to volunteer and began reading one-on-one with struggling readers.

Several of the kids’ reading skills progressed amazingly, and I couldn’t bear to see them stop reading over the summer. A green light was given to create a “Summer Reading Program” for the entire shelter, and, along with a group of friends, we collected two mobile book carts’ worth of books. Weekly book parties were started, where kids were provided with treats and prizes as reading incentives. Soon, staff began commenting on all the kids who were walking through the halls carrying books and asking for free time to read.

We continued collecting books from friends, purchasing new books, and conducting our summer reading parties over the next two summers. By that time, YESS was in the midst of a large building expansion, which included a dedicated library space. Our group of volunteers sorted through book donations, and cataloged more than 2,000 books in preparation for the grand opening in June 2015. We have hosted weekly library hours ever since.

In 2016, we began noticing a trend of kids mentioning that they were coming from, or going to, other facilities in the metro area. It was then that we realized that the kids needed to have access to good books wherever they landed. As I began reaching out to the other residential facilities that support the needs of this at-risk group, I learned that current books are scarce, budgets are tight, and excess funds for libraries are nonexistent. Obviously, priority funding for kids will always go first to shelter, food, and mental health needs.

It was at that point, that our group became committed to expanding our reach, so that good books could become a constant in kids’ otherwise tumultuous lives. It also became apparent that we would sometimes need to renovate and create welcoming library spaces, in addition to providing books. Fundraising became a necessity to finance these big projects, and so New Chapters, a 501c3 corporation, was born. In 2018, our six libraries served over 1,200 youth and have a combined total of more than 5,200 books. Our volunteers meet
weekly with kids at three separate facilities.

Our Story

by Stacie Palmer, New Chapters Founder
Video courtesy of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Central Iowa Chapter.  Video produced in conjunction with Philanthropy Day Awards Celebration 2018

During the fall of 2011, I toured Youth Emergency Services and Shelter (YESS) in Des Moines, Iowa. I was immediately drawn to the kids who resided there and felt called to volunteer and began reading one-on-one with struggling readers.

Several of the kids’ reading skills progressed amazingly, and I couldn’t bear to see them stop reading over the summer. A green light was given to create a “Summer Reading Program” for the entire shelter, and, along with a group of friends, we collected two mobile book carts’ worth of books. Weekly book parties were started, where kids were provided with treats and prizes as reading incentives. Soon, staff began commenting on all the kids who were walking through the halls carrying books and asking for free time to read.

We continued collecting books from friends, purchasing new books, and conducting our summer reading parties over the next two summers. By that time, YESS was in the midst of a large building expansion, which included a dedicated library space. Our group of volunteers sorted through book donations, and cataloged more than 2,000 books in preparation for the grand opening in June 2015. We have hosted weekly library hours ever since.

In 2016, we began noticing a trend of kids mentioning that they were coming from, or going to, other facilities in the metro area. It was then that we realized that the kids needed to have access to good books wherever they landed. As I began reaching out to the other residential facilities that support the needs of this at-risk group, I learned that current books are scarce, budgets are tight, and excess funds for libraries are nonexistent. Obviously, priority funding for kids will always go first to shelter, food, and mental health needs.

It was at that point, that our group became committed to expanding our reach, so that good books could become a constant in kids’ otherwise tumultuous lives. It also became apparent that we would sometimes need to renovate and create welcoming library spaces, in addition to providing books. Fundraising became a necessity to finance these big projects, and so New Chapters, a 501c3 corporation, was born. In 2018, our six libraries served over 1,200 youth and have a combined total of more than 5,200 books. Our volunteers meet
weekly with kids at three separate facilities.

Meet The Team

Stacie, Diane and Laurie are the backbone of New Chapters. They work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that the kids have a wonderful experience each time they enter a New Chapters Library. Stacie handles the administrative duties, Diane is the technical expert and Laurie is the book guru. Above all, they value their time with the kids connecting over books. New Chapters libraries couldn’t operate without our wonderful volunteers: Libby Hartlieb, Becky Anderson, Kelly Fini, Lisa Severino, Claire Reiman, and Terri Jensen (not pictured).

Stacie, Diane, and Laurie

Libby, Becky, Kelly, Lisa, and Claire

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West Des Moines, IA 50266

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