Soquel High Department of Industrial Arts and Building Professionals Making a Difference
Don’t be fooled by the new blue oval plaque displayed next to the entrance of the Porter Memorial Public Library. The Historical Trust award from the Santa Cruz County in no way indicates that the library is a thing of the past.
The seven-member board of directors makes sure that the doors are open and the availability of this space is constant and ever evolving. Member of the board and Secretary, Juli McDermott tells me that the excitement and engagement people of the Soquel area experience hasn’t changed from when children from the Soquel Elementary School carried the large stones for the library’s fireplace to this building in 1912.
While the youngsters in our community have always been part of the dream, the average age of the library’s volunteers is definitely on the senior side. At least three volunteers are enjoying their octogenarian phase of life.
This spring the Porter Library has the involvement of teenage talent. The sounds of Soquel High School students and their power tools replacing the deck at the back entrance have brought the generations together. Complete with a wrap-around bench, the deck expands the library for outdoor reading and visiting.
Leif “Hal” Rovic, from Soquel High Department of Industrial Arts, also known as The Wood Shop, guided the youngsters to plan and build the structure as part of their Green Manufacturing Engineering program and Construction Technology class. Hal has been mentoring and teaching students at Soquel High for a total of 18 years. The curriculum provides students practical shop skills and career preparation for those interested. Students make amazing progress. Soon they are ready to join the local unions and earn a good living once they graduate. Several are currently working in the field part time, paving the way for full time employment.
The deck project has provided the students an opportunity to participate in the community in a way that will be a lasting benefit and source of appreciation and pride. It adds to the two other annual opportunities that the students have to show their skills. Twice a year their products are showcased at the school campus. Be on the look out for the May 5 Spring Garden Event held at the Soquel High School Floral Design Classroom where two ROP – Regional Occupational Programs, The Floral Design Group and The Green Manufacturing Engineering Program, will show and sell their products of plants, flowers, trellises and planter boxes.
McDermott brought me up to date on the history and latest improvements to the stately library building. At 104 years old it is the oldest continuously operating library in Santa Cruz County. Beginning in 1980 volunteers have single handedly operated this marvelous service with no public funding. The library also serves as a museum with local historical artifacts and community history. Soquel Pioneer and Historical Association Museum has a user-friendly collection as well as an ongoing exhibit on site.
A shout out of gratitude goes to the Porter Sesnon Foundation for the grant that funded the newly completed accessibility project and to the Pro Bono work Local architect Teall Messer who followed the guidelines of The Commission on Disabilities to bring the library into compliance with the ADA American Disabilities Act. The building is now accessible to all citizens. Contractor Tom Johnson, Whitlow Concrete, Echo Plumbing, Tucker Floors, Phil Lacki Electric, Michael Petti Painting and Santana Paving are all appreciated for their talent and time, much of which was offered pro bono.
Replacing the deck was a natural extension of the new accessible project. When Soquel High’s wood shop teacher got the go ahead to do the work the community came together to provide additional funding. Once referred to as “The Little Library That Could,” Porter Memorial Library remains a “Can Do” community stronghold.
The Porter Memorial Library is an all volunteer, all donation library. Gifts of time or tax deductible financial donations are always welcome. Checks payable to Porter Memorial Library, P. O. Box 858, Soquel CA 95073 Visit the website — www.PorterML.org and like them on Facebook!