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Teenagers often struggle to find a place where they feel welcome, said Greg Lewis, librarian at the Kentwood branch of the Kent District Library.
That’s why Lewis was ecstatic to win a $1000 grant in February from the Grand Rapids Awesome Foundation to support Kentwoodpalooza, a music event for teenagers that will kick off the library’s Summer Reading Club.
Lewis put on a smaller version of the event last summer, but thanks to the grant money he will put on an “even bigger, better event” this year. Kentwoodpalooza will take place on June 13th beginning at 4 p.m. and will feature a local professional band as well as many teen bands. The event will also have food, root beer kegs, a caricaturist, and prizes given away. Any local teen bands interested in playing can fill out an application on the library website.
Lewis hopes that Kentwoodpalooza will bring a lot of teens to the library, but also show them that they’re welcome to spend time there with the Summer Reading Club.
“I’m really all about letting them know there’s a place that they can go to that is for them,” Lewis said. “If you could make a difference in one kid’s life, it’s worth it.”
The Summer Reading Club is for kids and adults of all ages. Anyone can sign up, read and enter drawings to win prizes such as gift cards for local stores and restaurants. There are also events every week of the summer, with separate events geared toward teens such as movie nights and video game tournaments.
The Kentwood Branch sits at the border between Kentwood and Grand Rapids and draws very diverse patrons from both cities, but every library has a Summer Reading Club, Lewis said. He encourages teens to see what is happening at the library near where they live.
In addition, the libraries are also always looking for teens to volunteer to help run the Summer Reading Clubs for younger children.
Lewis is thankful for private donors like the Awesome Foundation.
“It’s the way of the world right now,” he said. “We struggle to do what we can with the public money. It’s really nice that there are people out there willing to do this.”
Katie likes people and stories. She especially likes writing people's stories.