New Chapter – Youth Homes of Mid-America

by | Jan 21, 2019 | Events, Libraries

New Chapters is thrilled to announce the opening of a new library at our fourth location: Youth Homes of Mid-America (YHMA), in Johnston, Iowa. This residential treatment campus provides foster group care and services on a 24-hour basis to teenage boys ages 12-18 with behavioral and/or emotional problems of such magnitude that they are unable to remain in their own homes. YHMA programs include residential treatment, transitional living, and counseling to the youth and their families with the end goal of providing a path to independence. 

The boys are referred to Youth Homes of Mid-America from Juvenile Court Services or the Department of Human Services.  Although we were not initially familiar with YHMA, we had a general idea that when boys discharge from either Polk County Juvenile Detention Center or Youth Emergency Services and Shelter (YESS), they are sometimes placed in a group home. It had long been a dream of ours to locate that facility and create a library to serve the boys who are placed there.

We reached out to the staff at YHMA with our idea to provide a library for their residents and were immediately met with great enthusiasm for the project.  We toured the residential buildings on campus and saw that they had small bookcases filled with worn and outdated books. This observation heightened our excitement to get the project off the ground as soon as possible. The perfect library space was found when the staff showed us an extra conference room.

We quickly set out to renovate the space with custom bookcases, new paint and new carpet.  It was important to use the same materials that we used in each of our existing libraries to provide a consistent and familiar feeling amongst the libraries. Our hope is that when youth enter a New Chapters library and see the same volunteers and surroundings they have an instant feeling of comfort and stability. We also added a small table and chairs to accomodate the occasional need for consultations.

Our custom bookshelves will hold over 1,000 books. With the help of our generous donors, we have purchased and placed over 700 new books on the shelves to date. The books are color coded and organized by genre to help the boys and staff quickly locate the ideal book. A wide variety of genres are offered including: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Thrillers, Urban, True Stories, Humorous, Fun Facts and Graphic Novels.

The new space is beautiful and the grand opening on November 7, 2018 was met with great excitement from both the boys and the staff! It was wonderful to see their enthusiasm when our volunteers were able to connect the boys’ interests with the perfect books. The new books are sure to provide hours of enjoyment for the boys and perhaps a brief escape from their daily lives and any problems they are working through.

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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