Library is great community resource

Published 9:59 pm Monday, May 6, 2019

By Tonya Swindell

Structured events, programs and classes at Suffolk Public Library have influenced my family in significant ways. Content, interactions and information we received were impactful. Our experiences were invaluable and we’re excited to have them continue.

While attending Suffolk Public Library Writers’ Group, I met a former missionary who described living in United Arab Emirates. She also mentioned writing articles for her local newspaper. The woman was 91-year-old Suffolk News-Herald columnist, Myrtle Thompson. We have been friends ever since.

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In February, my children and I attended “Black and Super: African-American History in Comics.” Professional panelists offered insight. Young writing contestants earned prizes. Entrepreneurs and local vendors sold products.

Recently, knowledgeable staff helped me obtain information for an online Bible study offered through Kingdom Building Institute ( Afterward, I conveniently presented findings to my class via the library’s free WiFi. On a different day, a helpful employee named Amy patiently located books so I could perform research. I benefited from internet searches and word processing on the library’s desktop computers, too.

In March, Vahlerie, youth services coordinator, and others organized a Women’s Empowerment Brunch hosted by motivational speaker and entrepreneur, Ebony Love. Participants were encouraged to meet someone new and introduce that person to the group. I met Cathy, a very polite woman who was a great listener.

Brunch selections included a plethora of pastries, meats, fruits and vegetarian options. While eating, I told Ms. Love about my daughter’s poem, “You Are Beautiful Just the Way You Are,” for which she won the 2018 poetry contest hosted by the library. Love allowed me to read it for participants. I also mentioned how my daughter won the “Black and Super” writing contest for her age division. Competitors were required to write about who they would be, what they would do and from where their power would come if they were superheroes.

Brunch participants engaged in therapeutic exercises to explore and eliminate emotionally draining activities. Love encouraged us to ask women if they were OK, then listen patiently for their responses. My daughter accompanied me to the event and I could tell she was paying attention.

The next day she asked, “Mommy, are you OK?” In response, I commented about having a few things on my mind. My daughter patiently and lovingly shared that when she feels that way, she takes a deep breath and tells herself that everything will be OK. She suggested doing so may help me, too.

Over the years, my children benefited from programs like BARKS, which helped them improve literacy while reading to dogs. They also engaged in science, technology, engineering and math activities. My second-oldest son learned artistic techniques through drawing, painting and art history sessions.

Our whole family attended the fun, colorful IconiCon event that highlighted comic book characters, futuristic themes and original costumes.

My family and I have benefited from a myriad of educational and fun activities at Suffolk Public Library. Our experiences were satisfying, inspiring and exciting. We feel fortunate to have Suffolk Public Library as a viable resource within our community.


Tonya Swindell writes a blog for and is a teacher for Kingdom Building Equipping School ( She can be reached at