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Library holds special place in the hearts of staff, residents alike

Whitley Stokes

To the casual visitor, the community’s library is nothing more than a place to pick up a new novel or catch up on the daily news. To others, it serves as an important connection point to days gone by, the world of today and one another.

For Marketing Director Whitley Stokes, the library conjures up fond memories of family trips to the library as a child and the excitement surrounding learning and discovery.

“I remember my mom toting me and my sister to the library for all kinds of fun activities,” said Whitley. “We would have reading contests and if you could read a certain amount of books in a few weeks you could win a prize, and I remember all the fun art and science projects we got to participate in.”

Those early visits to the library—along with her mom’s love of education and reading—led Whitley to become a student library aide at Arkansas City High School and Cowley College before eventually going on to serve as the circulation supervisor at Arkansas City Public Library. Today, Whitley sees a direct connection between that work and her current job at the community.

“Being able to help others learn and grow is a passion of mine and I still get to do so at the Manor. I can’t express how much of a pleasure it is to have a library on our campus,” said Whitley. “We have amazing residents that volunteer their time to keep it clean and beautiful for all of us to enjoy, and for that I thank them.”

Gene Brinkman

One of the benefactors of all of that work is resident Gene Brinkman.

Each morning Gene heads down to the library where he reads the Wichita Eagle and the Courier Traveler. Over the course of about an hour and a half, Gene is able to get up to date with what’s going on in the local business community and the Kansas City Chiefs. He also likes to check the obituary section to “keep track of who’s still on earth.”

But more than anything, Gene’s daily trip to the library helps him keep in touch with others in the community.

“There’s always somebody who comes in that you can visit with, joke with and tease,” said Gene.

It’s those moments of levity that Gene feels are especially important given our current environment.

“I know one thing, a smile and a laugh is the best medicine you can give someone,” said Gene. “It’s kinda hard now with these masks that we have to wear, but you can tell by their eyes if they’re smiling or not.”

And the way Gene sees it there is no shortage of things to smile about.

Residents Gene Brinkman (right) and Lowell Smith catch up in the library. Gene shared, “Lowell is 100 years old. He’s kind of a serious fellow but I like to tease him and get him to loosen up a little bit.”
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