4-H student educates the public about opportunities at SBC Free Library

Wanting to help educate the community on free-opportunities in San Benito County, local student Safia Bootwala teamed up with the San Benito County Library to put on an "Arts and Crafts and Informational Event"

Safia Bootwala, a San Benito High School Senior wanted to spread the word about the many great opportunities through the local 4-H chapters and community library that she was aware of. So Bootwala put on the “San Benito County Library and 4-H Co-Hosts Arts and Crafts and Informational Event” for her 4-H Emerald Star Project Jan.27 at the library. The flyer she created invited members to “learn about the free after-school programs your public library and local 4-H clubs have to offer”. With roughly 13 families in attendance at the two hour event, Bootwala with the support of family, friends, and the library staff, helped educate her guests about opportunities in the community, while providing hands-on activities such as students using a new 3-D image printer library. As Bootwala said it was important to her to [ut on the event because, “4-H and the library have so many free programs people can utilize,” such as helping, “those less fortunate who can’t access things like the SAT and ACT prep books”.

In 4-H, "there are an unlimited amount of opportunities that aren’t just animals," Bootwala said. She credited 4-H with giving her a voice and that it can help students in developing public speaking skills, working towards college scholarships, and learning certain skill sets such as sewing.

Emilie Sarringhaus, Bootwala’s friend and fellow 4-H member, was in attendance helping Bootwala the day of the event. Sarringhaus said 4-H has shown her, “many different interests that I didn’t know about,” which helped her become a more, “a well-balanced person. I’ve been coming here (the library) since I was five or six,” and as a result, Sarringhaus said she, “thought it was really great that I am able to help both things I love in one project."

While part of the event was dedicated to promoting free programs within 4-H, the other half was dedicated to informing people of both old and new programs that the library has to offer.

Librarian Erin Baxter showed interested participants the library’s new 3-D printer. “We got a grant from the California State Libraries,” Baxter said.

This grant covered the cost of two 3-D printers that students will be able to use for free at the upcoming “Drop-in Makers Space” program starting in March. This program, which will be run by Baxter, will be used to promote STEM, art, and creativity for youth in the community through hands-on experiences such as using the 3-D printer and/or making jewelry on site.

Another new addition to the library that both Bootwala and Baxter were excited about was the library helping teenagers get ready to take the SAT and ACT test, required for college applications.

Utilizing a grant from the Community Foundation for San Benito County, the library will be, “buying the official workbooks and giving them to the kids for free,” starting in February Baxter said. In addition to the workbook, students will be able to attend a one hour session to learn test taking strategies and where to find free resources. In order to be part of this group all students need to do is sign-up in advance for the session with the library so the appropriate number of books can be ordered.

When asked why the library is such an important resource to the community Baxter said, “It improves the lives of everybody." The library serves all social and economic groups equally, providing computers and resources for students without them at home.

A list of new and popular programs the library has to offer are listed below.

  • Tuesday nights from 5-6 p.m. in the Barbara Room at the library girls ages 5-17 will have free access to participating in science experiments, arts and crafts, and games.
  • Starting February 10, library hours will be extended on Saturdays to 12-6 p.m.
  • From June to August the library will be putting on their second teen reading program where teens are encouraged to set a reading goal for the summer. This will be followed by the students meeting every Thursday at the library to check in on how their reading is going as well as to participate in projects such as making projectors for smart phones and decorating cupcakes.
  • The library continues its free adult literacy program where members of the community can get help to improve their reading, writing, and English speaking skills. Baxter said students will be matched with a volunteer tutor and the library is, "always looking for tutors". 
  • Movie Day will be increased to twice a month with "Despicable Me 3" playing Feb. 8 at 4 p.m.
  • Homework Club will continue from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is based on sign-ups only. This program is for students from first through fifth grades.
  • Bilingual Story Time is Monday 3:00-4:00 p.m. 
  • On Wednesday there are two storytime sessions geared toward preschoolers though all are welcome from 10:00 a.m. to 10:40 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.

Information for both the San Benito County Library and San Benito County 4-H clubs can be found on their webpages. 

Becky Bonner

Becky Bonner is a local teacher at San Benito High School who is passionate about sharing things to do in San Benito County.