Friends of the Washington Parish Library got underway in early August 2005 when 24 concerned
citizens signed up to get the group started. These citizens were attending a meeting of the Library Board of Control for a
discussion of the library system's financial crisis and proposed operating plans. The 24 agreed that a Friends group could
give valuable support to the library and volunteered to help out.
The first meeting of our Friends
group was scheduled for August 30. Only one day before that, on August 29, Hurricane Katrina tore through Washington Parish
leaving a path of devastation. The Franklinton Branch Library, which also houses the headquarters of our library system, was
hit hard. Homes of many volunteers also were seriously damaged; roads were impassable; and all communication systems were
Because of the damage from the storm, the first meeting was not held until Thursday, November
3. It was a dark and stormy night, but we had a turnout of five volunteers from the Bogalusa and Franklinton areas - Carol
Duke, George Domas, John Seal, Philip and Gloria Lupo - plus librarian Gabriel Morley, director of the Washington Parish Library
System. Several matters were discussed, and a date was set for the next meeting.
first meeting of the open steering committee, George Domas volunteered to draft a constitution and bylaws for the group. George
is a former president of the Friends of the Library in Poplarville, Mississippi. He wrote that group's constitution.
On December 8, another dark and stormy night, we had a turnout of 13 volunteers for the meeting of the open steering
committee. Those who attended were Millicent Canter, Larisa Stewart, Janice Goff, Sally Rosenblum, Gabriel Morley, Keith Stafford,
Gloria Lupo, Philip Lupo, Lorraine Bourn, Judy Rabuffo, Terry Seal, Anne Tate, and Carol Duke.
The constitution and bylaws, with a few other matters, were discussed at the December meeting, and the next meeting was set
for January at the Bogalusa Branch Library.
At the January 12, 2006 meeting, 14 citizens
from throughout the parish adopted and signed the constitution and bylaws, making that day the official date of the founding
of the organization.
Those who signed the constitution were Gloria Lupo, Carol Duke,
George Domas, Lorraine Bourn, Elizabeth Roberts, Janice Goff, Jane Tate, Sally Rosenblum, Terry Seal, Francis Mills, Jean
Wales, Evelyn Cassidy, Johni Miles and Gabriel Morley.
At the February 16 meeting, the three-person
committee, which consisted of Evelyn Cassidy, Terry Seal, and Elizabeth Roberts, presented nominations
for officers and directors-at-large. Those elected were Gloria Lupo, president; Sylvia Ledet, vice president; Carol Duke,
secretary; and Lorraine Bourn, treasurer. The three directors-at-large elected were Evelyn Cassidy, George Domas, and Dr.
Membership dues were accepted for the first time at the February 16 meeting. Those
who attended were Lynn Alexander, Lorraine Bourn, Millicent Canter, Roselyn Casanova, Evelyn Cassidy, Linda Crain, Carol Duke,
Babs Fowler, Janice Goff, Fern Grantham, Marcie Landry, Sylvia Ledet, Gabriel Morley, Judy Rabuffo, Sally Rosenblum, John
Seal, Terry Seal, Keith Stafford, Anne Tate, Joanne Thorp, and Jean Wales.
About 25 Friends attended
the March 23 meeting at the Franklinton Branch Library. Friends voted to adopt the Annual Wild Game Cook-Off and Barbecue
in Bogalusa's Cassidy Park from the Seven Miles Substance Abuse Center A Cook-off Committee was appointed, as
was a 60th Anniversary Celebration Committee.
The first annual membership drive also was
initiated at the March meeting, with members picking up FWPL brochures to hand out. Membership presentations were
scheduled for several civic groups and for the Washington Parish Council.
The first officers of FWPL were elected February 16, 2006.
Gloria Lupo was
elected president. Gloria graduated from Bogalusa High in 1964. She completed a B.A. in Speech and English at
Southeastern Louisi-ana University and has completed four additional years of college work in communications, language, theater,
art, and education. She has worked as a nursing home activities director, as a small town newspaper reporter and editor,
and long ago as a television news anchor in Alexandria, Louisiana.
Gloria has experience with
state civil service in the departments of social services and mental health. She returned to Washington Parish
two years ago with her husband Philip.
Sylvia Ledet, vice-president, has been a librarian
in Pine and Thomas for more than 10 years. She now is manager of the Thomas Branch. She is known well in those
communities for her bright smile, friendly personality, and willingness to lend a helping hand. She loves her rural
library and devotes much time to making it a comfortable and pleasant place to visit.
Sylvia has many outside interests, one of which is motorcycling with her husband. They helped found a cycle club that does
rides for various charities.
Lorraine Bourn, treasurer, bought a piece of Mt. Hermon property
with her husband Wayne 19 years ago. It was their
weekend getaway, and that was the beginning of their love for
Lorraine was an elementary teacher in the Orleans Parish School System for many
years. She and her husband started home schooling their three children when the youngest was going into sixth grade
and the oldest into ninth. Two of the children now are part-time students at Tulane University. The oldest just
completed his PhD in biomedical engineering at Tulane and is working in Minnesota.
years ago, after Wayne retired from the Corps of Engineers and family obligations were met, they bought a house on Highway
38 in Clifton. Lorraine loves to read, do needlework, and work in her organic vegetable garden. Besides having
a great interest in the library, she also volunteers at the Varnado Store Museum.
Duke, secretary, also is a graduate of Bogalusa High. After completing her B.A. she taught English in Texas where she
lived with her husband. After the death of her husband, she returned to her childhood home of Bogalusa where her brothers
Carol is active with the Civic League and other service organizations and enjoys tutoring
young students in the Bogalusa School System. She is an avid reader and belongs to a local book club also. She
loves the outdoors, enjoying natural beauty, and traveling. She has been essential to FWPL since the very first meeting
and was instrumental in bringing the Annual Wild Game Cook-Off and Barbecue to the organization.
FWPL is fortunate to have started with three directors with a tremendous amount of knowledge and
public service experience. We were proud to have all three of them as part of our organization: Evelyn Cassidy,
George Domas, and Dr. Jerry Thomas.
It was a singular honor to have Evelyn Cassidy as a Friend
and director. No lady in our parish is better known or better respected than Ms. Cassidy. She has blessed
us with decades of public-minded conscientious leadership. She has served our parish and civic organizations in innumerable
ways and already has been a big support to FWPL, offering sound advice at meetings. Her kindness and her intelligence
can guide all of us.
George Domas, a graduate of West Point and a retired attorney, is also a
former president of Friends of the Library in Poplarville, Mississippi. His knowledge guided us as we worked to get
our Friends group started. He drafted our constitution and bylaws for us.
Dr. Jerry Thomas
has served our parish as a physician and as our state senator. He did a great job as senator during a time of crisis
for our state hospital system and made sure that those hospitals within our district received the funding they needed.
Dr. Thomas also was instrumental in obtaining funding for the new Thomas Branch Library.
First Year Review: 2006
The painting of the Thomas Branch Library was the final of ten projects completed by Friends of
the Washington Parish Library in our first year.
The first project was to draft and adopt a constitution and bylaws for the organization in accordance
with guidelines of Friends of Libraries USA and the Louisiana State Library. The second project was a membership drive.
Other projects were organizing and sponsoring the Washington Parish Library 60th Anniversary Celebration with awards presented
to former and current library staff and board members; a presentation of a monetary donation to the library system; sponsoring
the Library Poetry Contest with participation of approximately half the schools in the parish and Bogalusa, both public and
private; a mail-out and ad campaign supporting the renewal of the library millage; the first Annual Book Sale of Friends of
the Library; publishing and distributing the FWPL Quarterly Newsletter for all quarters of 2006; and establishing an FWPL
Internet site with frequent news updates for members and non-members.
"Those of us who got together
and started Friends a year ago are thrilled with the response we've had from people all over the parish," said Gloria Lupo,
FWPL president. "Our membership is distributed pretty equally around Franklinton and Bogalusa, and there are members from
out-lying areas like Mt. Hermon, Pine, Clifton, Thomas, Enon and Bush. It shows that the people of Washington Parish are willing
to work together for a good cause that benefits everyone.
"We have over 90 dues paying memberships
now. That includes about 150 individuals because many of the memberships are family and group memberships. It's encouraging
to see that so many people have got involved with the organization in its very first year. It shows that there are people
in our parish who value education and learning, and they want to maintain a good public library system where people can find
the information and resources they need to improve their educations and their lives and do it without paying any kind of fee.
That is the tradition of public libraries in this country, and it is a tradition worth keeping."