Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Johnson Bayou School and Library

Southwest Louisiana has been hit hard by hurricanes in the past seven years, and none harder than coastal Cameron Parish. First, Hurricane Rita in 2005, then Ike in 2008. My friend and fellow children’s writer Tommie Townsley recently made a school visit, as children’s writers are wont to do, to Johnson Bayou. Their school was completely destroyed during Hurricane Ike, including the library and all their books. Four years later, Tommie discovered they still have very few books in their library. She decided to do something about that. Through friends and our writers’ group, Southwest Louisiana Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Guild (SWLA CBWI) -- whew, I have to think so hard every time I speak or write that name --we held a book drive and collected boxes and boxes of books for these children. It’s a small school. Grades Pre-K through 12th all on one campus – all 62 kids. Since Hurricane Ike, they attend classes in temporary buildings. A new school is still 2-3 years in the future.

Where’s Johnson Bayou, some of you may wonder? Head south to Holly Beach, hang a right, and drive west down the coastal road about 14 miles. It's about an hour from Lake Charles. Because of the hurricanes, the population there has dwindled drastically.

Today several of us in the Guild delivered the books to this school. Our trip began at the new Johnson Bayou Public Library. Hurricane Rita destroyed the original library in 2005. For six years, they operated out of a mobile library. This building was dedicated in February 2011.

It’s small but cozy, charming and delightful. This is the children’s section.

This is the Gulf of Mexico view from their balcony.

Once at the school, a dozen or so of the older boys greeted us and unloaded the many boxes. We were then welcomed by cheers and applause before a heartwarming appreciation assembly. The kids seemed to be truly excited and grateful for our donation.

We were treated to snacks and sweet tea at the school and a delicious lunch at the library. Thanks so much to the staff and students at Johnson Bayou School and the library staff for their warm wonderful hospitality! We had a great time!

1 comment:

Jan Rider Newman said...

What a good idea and a nice thing to do.