Donor Spotlight – Dave and Joann Leto

by | Apr 15, 2019 | Donor Spotlight

At New Chapters, donors have a significant impact, providing literary opportunities for at-risk youth in our community.  Gifts to New Chapters provide support to kids who reside at Youth Emergency Services and Shelter (YESS),  Polk County Juvenile Detention Center, Orchard Place Campus, and Youth Homes of Mid-America. The impact of donors can be seen in the beautiful library spaces we have created in each of these facilities; they are filled with high-interest titles and span a wide variety of reading levels and genres. Gifts allow us to promote the joy of reading and make personal connections with the kids; the purchase of a requested book for a child helps him or her feel extra special. Our supporters help us make reading fun for the kids with incentive games, prizes, and special treats to engage even the most reluctant reader. 

Today, in the first of our Donor Spotlight series, we would like to introduce to you the Leto family. Dave and Joann Leto have a passion for supporting causes that touch their hearts and do a great job of including their children and setting a wonderful example of giving back to the community. We are so happy that they share our vision of supporting at-risk youth and have made an impact on New Chapters through monetary donations, bookstore gift cards and providing new books from our Wish List. Dave, who is president of The Palmer Group, has been a leader in the company’s participation in New Chapters’ Corporate Giving Tree event each year. Their son, Sam, is also an enthusiastic supporter, along with his entire high school basketball team! They recently donated prizes to a reading incentive program we hosted at Youth Homes of Mid-America. 

We send our warmest thanks to the Leto family for their generous support of New Chapters. Please take a few minutes to read through our interview with Dave and Joann regarding their involvement with our cause. We hope that you, too, may become inspired to make a difference in the lives of the at-risk youth in our community. 

When did you first hear about New Chapters?

Dave works at Palmer Group and we have seen firsthand the important work Stacie and her team of volunteers have been doing over the years to impact at-risk youth. 

Why did you first donate to New Chapters?

We have young children who love to read. Books have made a big impact on our children’s lives, as they have our own. We understand the importance that books have and we were compelled to help because what New Chapters is doing matters. In addition to donating personally, for the past two years at Palmer Group, we had a “Giving Tree” that we put in the office with “ornament tags” that had the names of various books that needed to be purchased to help New Chapters keep books on the shelves of their libraries around town. The Palmer Group team has rallied around this effort and it is something we have had some fun with in the office. This will be an annual tradition in our office, and we are proud to support New Chapters to keep books in the hands of the youth that need it most. 

Is there an aspect of the New Chapters’ mission with which you connect more than others?

We just simply love the fact that these libraries are transforming the facilities in which they are placed along with transforming the lives of so many. Hearing the stories from Stacie on how the youth are responding to the libraries and the books is heart-warming and makes us feel like we are really making a difference. 

What do you hope to see regarding New Chapters’ efforts around Des Moines?

We would have to imagine there are many other facilities and potentially even schools around town that are underfunded where a New Chapters Library could make a huge difference. We would love to see this organization grow and find a way to have an impact on every at-risk youth possible. 

What do you tell others about New Chapters?

We are passionate about this cause and talk about it with our friends and with our children. We have a freshman in high school, and he has also had the opportunity to donate to this great organization through a sports team fundraiser. New Chapters is an easy organization to get excited about and to get others excited about.  

Is there a particular book that has made an impact on you?

For us, it is hard to beat Dr. Suess books, especially “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” So many great lessons to be learned from this simple book. 

Do you have a special memory that includes a book or reading?

We have fond memories of reading books to our children at bedtime. Some of their favorite books were “Goodnight Moon”, “The Napping House”, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”, and Sesame Street books. 


Do you have a favorite author and/or book?

Joann is in a book club and some of her favorite authors are Liane Moriarty, Mitch Albom, Kristin Hannah, Jodi Picoult and Emily Giffin. 


About New Chapters Libraries

At New Chapters, our collective passion is to inspire a love of books among at-risk youth. We believe that strong reading skills are essential for every child and that a good book can be very therapeutic and offer a ‘vacation’ from the hardships of everyday life.

New Chapters is committed to making a wide variety of current and high-interest books readily available by creating and refurbishing libraries in residential facilities catering to at-risk children. We also conduct programs aimed at fostering a love of books and increasing reading skills.


To learn more, contact us at [email protected]. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram!


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