Families in Shelter Enjoy Renovated Library

childrens_books_-_sbh_library Children's Books in the Library

Thanks to the support of very generous donors, the library at Sarah Burke House, Sanctuary's 56-family domestic violence shelter in the Bronx, has been transformed into a warm and welcoming space for mothers and children to read, research, and relax in a surrounding of new books.  


Last year, the Jewish Women’s International (JWI) “National Library Initiative” identified Sarah Burke House’s library as a space worthy of a renovation.  For years, the library at the shelter solely consisted of a large multi-purpose table, a shelf of used books for adults and children, and a computer workstation.

After an extensive renovation underwritten by Cindy Spiegel and her family, the library at Sarah Burke House, Sanctuary’s large shelter in the Bronx, is now an inviting and empowering space for children and their mothers to read, research, and relax, surrounded by new books.

When domestic violence victims and their children flee to safety and enter shelter, they often have to leave everything behind.  Books are too heavy to bring, and are far too costly to replace right away.   For safety reasons, children have to change schools. All of this, combined with the trauma associated with domestic violence, often prevent children from developing a strong interest in reading and can have a negative effect on their performance in school.

Thankfully, a place has been created at the shelter to instill and foster an interest in books and a love of reading.  “At Sarah Burke House we are always looking for innovative ways to engage children and families,” said Shelly Rose, Sanctuary’s Director of Operations, “and the children’s library is a valuable resource that meets our clients’ needs on so many levels.”

Here are a few photos taken at the library:

The library renovation project allowed for new reading chairs, a colorful rug, a work table, a new computer workstation and, most impressively, walls of bookshelves fully stocked with hundreds of brightly colored children’s books.   There are books available for every age-group, and appropriate for all reading levels.  The library will be replenished on an ongoing basis by the Spiegel family, and children are encouraged to take a favorite book with them when the time comes to leave shelter.   The computer workstations are available to help residents research opportunities for employment and permanent housing, as well to connect them with other city resources. 

“Since the renovation, mothers and children have been sharing more quality time together in the child-friendly space,” said Jessica Fabian, Assistant Director for Aftercare, Volunteers and Interns.  At Sarah Burke House, the goal is to create a safe and nurturing environment for families.  The library renovation has created a new place to help to renew and strengthen healthy family values. 

Books for children and adults are always in need at Sanctuary. If you would like to organize a book drive and help stock the bookshelves in all of our locations, please e-mail inkind@sffny.org

For more information and guidelines about organizing a drive, please click here .

To learn about JWI’s “National Library Initiative” please click here.