The President's Letter

Thank-you for Helping Us Help Kids

      Every generation seems to have its own set of challenges to confront. And, the next generation most certainly won’t be spared. While there is no way we can wave a magic wand to free them of that onerous birthright, we can do our best to help prepare them for the challenges ahead.

      One of the best ways to equip our children and grandchildren to deal with the inevitable challenges is to ensure that they have the skills to read effectively and to process the ideas and facts that are communicated in the written word…to help them not take words simply at face value but to have the skills to weigh them in the greater context of their life experiences.

      So far, based on test results, it appears that we have room for improvement. And, to the credit of many organizations in Kent County and the state of Michigan, we are trying to do something about it. For example, the state legislature passed the “Read by Grade 3” law in 2016 to allow educators to hold students back if they are unable to read and comprehend at adequate levels by the third grade. That’s an important tool in a teacher’s arsenal to help students, but it isn’t nearly enough and does nothing to preempt the problem in the first place.

      Many local organizations have recognized that we have a critical need to act sooner rather than later. The Kent District Library (KDL) is one of them, having introduced its “Mission: Read” program to offer children tools and incentives to improve their reading skills.

      While it’s too soon to gauge its impact, the Cascade Friends applaud the effort and want to do what we can to help the initiative succeed. Toward that end we financed the purchase of $5,000 worth of books in 2019 so that KDL’s Bookmobile could give each child a book of his or her own. And, we have a committee actively engaged with KDL to see what else we might do to make a positive difference in 2020.

      Obviously, we would not be in a position to provide support if not for the active involvement of and generous contributions of time, books and money from the people in our community. So, on behalf of the Friends organization, I want to thank you for your support and assure you that we are utilizing the resources you provide to complement the efforts of the Cascade Library, KDL and the broader community in which we all live.


Benefits of a Friend's Membership

When you become a Friend, you help support an important part of the social fabric of your community. Plus, you earn "Early Bird" privileges at most book sales, which means you gain entry to the sales in advance of non-members to have first shot at the books of greatest interest to you. And, we will notify you of any scheduled book sales or special events. So, you'll never miss out on an opportunity.  

Annual Report 2019

      The Friends enjoyed another year of expansion and successful execution of its mission in the support of the library and the community. But then, with so many dedicated volunteers, committed members and supportive library staff, that shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone.

      Community members continue to amaze us with a seemingly endless supply of contributed books, which fuel most of the Friends’ fundraising efforts in support of the library.

      Volunteers continue to line up to assist in the preparation and sale of those books and in the logistical support of Friends-sponsored events, such as Flix @ the Library, Book Discussions, Booked-For-Lunch and so much more. In fact, our team of volunteers has grown to more than 50 while many other Friends groups consider themselves fortunate to have a fraction of that.

      Revenues continue to grow, allowing us to sponsor even more community events through the library and to support the efforts of KDL to improve the reading skills of third graders.

      We are fortunate to have the mission, the means and the passionate engagement to make a meaningful positive difference in our community. And, we don’t take it for granted.

Financial Results

      Total income of $96,705 in 2019 increased by 14.8% over the previous year’s total of $84,271. Income from used book sales was up from $79,335 in 2018 to $88,713 in 2019, an 11.8% increase. Membership dues were down by 3.6 percent at $1,672 primarily because of one-time Life memberships in previous years. Donations were up 154.4 percent at $5,532 for the year. Other income (interest and program participation fees) was fairly flat at $788. Initial projections for 2020 see a modest continuation of income growth to $99,956, a 3.4% increase over 2019. 

      Overall expenses increased by 34.7 percent to $55,541 in 2019 based on strategic disbursement of funds in support of the KDL’s Mission: Read program and special equipment needs within the Cascade library branch. Basic operating expenses (i.e., expenses in support of volunteer activity and fundraising activities) were $5,452 as compared to $7,529 in 2018, a 27.6 percent decrease.


      While the number of “active” members (those whose dues are current) increased by 10.8 percent in 2019 to 308 members, the overall number of individuals on the membership list decreased by 18.4 percent to 356 as a result of a decision to reduce the “grace period” on overdue memberships to 18 months from 36 months. The increase in active memberships is primarily attributed to an 80.9 percent increase in new memberships in 2019 over 2018.

      Recent changes to our website ( now allow individuals to become a new member, renew an existing membership or make a cash donation online, which should make it more convenient for those who want to support the Friends organization. As a result, we are projecting a modest increase in membership in 2020.

Sponsored Events & Activities

      The Friends continued to support many popular events and activities at the library with financial support and volunteer time in 2019. Some of the most popular included book discussion groups, guest author presentations, Sunday afternoon family movies and live concerts, outdoor summer performances for families, and more. Additional information is provided about some of these activities in an article in this issue written by Vanessa Walstra, the library’s manager.


      The processing and resale of donated used books from the community is at the center of our operational activities. Trained volunteers evaluate each book and designate it either for online sales, bookstore sales, sales events or recycling. Unsold books are re-donated to various service organizations to supply or create small libraries in support of our mission to promote reading and literacy.

      In addition to the processing of used books, our volunteers provide logistical support for many of the events discussed above. In fact, volunteers contributed 8,439 hours of uncompensated time in support of Friends’ operations in 2019, a 12.2 percent increase over 2018.



A summary of results, activities and operations for the 2019 calendar year.

4 Sessions Remaining in Current Book Discussion schedule

Next Up: 'The Life We Bury'

       There are four more book discussions scheduled before we take a break for the summer. So, there's still time for you to join the fun with other book lovers at the library.
      These are the books that remain on the schedule. For more information about each book, visit our website (

Date        Title                                                                  Author

Feb 17       The Life We Bury                                          Allen Eskens

Mar 16       Nine Perfect Strangers                               Liane Moriarty

Apr 20      The Library Book                                          Susan Orleans

May 18      The Kinship of Secrets                                Eugenia Kim

        If you have never participated in one of the Friends’ book discussions and would like to give it a try, simply show up for a scheduled event. No registration is necessary, and there is no cost (other than to purchase the books).



Allen Eskens's novel about a dying man who may have been wrongfully convicted of murder is next up.

Your Donations IN ACTION

The Friends Continued to Support Library and Community Needs in 2019 in Many Important Ways

 By Vanessa Walstra

Manager, Cascade Branch of the Kent District Library


      The Friends of the Cascade Library provided tremendous financial support to the Cascade Township Branch again in 2019, making it possible for the branch to do many special projects this year, including:

Continue our popular Sunday Afternoon Live concert series

This popular series brings in live musical acts for concerts that are free to the public during the fall, winter and spring months.

Continue our popular Thursday Family Night event series

This series brings in a variety of entertainers for outdoors events on Thursday nights in the summer. 

Discover talented local photographers and display their art

The Cascade Photo Contest was repeated this year, and nearly 40 local photographers submitted pictures of local sights. Many of these photos were made into canvasses to decorate the walls of the library.

Provide reading incentives

Cascade Township Library was able to offer 15 Kindle Fires as additional Summer Reading Club prizes for finishers of all ages.

Market more materials

The Friends purchased several hundred display holders so that popular and favorite titles could be displayed prominently on the shelves, making them easier for readers to find. The Friends also purchased two new display tables to market materials in the branch.

Purchase additional copies of youth, teen, and adult book club books

Friends’ purchases make it possible for the local schools (and our local book clubs and senior homes) to have more copies of popular titles. 

Refresh our children’s play spaces

Friends’ donations allowed the library to replace and rejuvenate the interactive play items in our children’s area. New stuffed animals, veterinary kits, dolls, kitchen sets, lab materials and benches were all purchased this year with Friends’ money. The Friends also purchased items for a Fairy House table in the library and outdoor Fairy houses (to be put outside in the spring).

Refresh our lounging spaces

The library’s furniture is showing its age, and the Friends’ donations paid for a new sofa and eight new chairs for the public to use.


      Thank you to the Friends of the Cascade Library and to community members who donate used books for your continued support of this branch and its programs! We appreciate the partnership we have with you.



The Friends helped purchase some new furniture for the library in 2019.


Jocelyn Dettloff Is Featured Speaker at April 16 Luncheon

      Jocelyn Dettloff is a Michigan author who wrote a captivating memoir titled “It Rained in the Desert”about the experience that changed her life. As a free-spirited adventure-seeker, she travelled the globe seeking adventure and purpose until a sledding accident in Namibia in 1997 left her permanently paralyzed from the chest down. 

      As described by the online site Goodreads, “While unsought and unwanted, it was an adventure, and one of high stakes. Jocelyn had a choice--would she embrace this full on as she did other challenges or withdraw and let life pass her by? While surviving an accident thousands of miles from home has its own merit, the real grit and depth of her story comes from how she created a new way of truly living.”

      The motivating message in her story tells us how she created a new life out of the accident so that she was truly experiencing life and not just existing in grief and anger. Join us to meet Jocelyn and hear her story of tragedy, humor, joy and adventure. 

      Reservations can be made through the information help desk number (616-784-2007) at the main branch or at The cost, including a box lunch, is $10:00 for members and $12:00 for non-members. If you want to skip lunch and just listen to the presentation, the cost is $5.00.



Jocelyn Dettloff will discuss her memoir, "It Rained in the Desert" at the April 16 Booked-For-Lunch

Success of Flix @ the Library Leads to Spin-Off Version

New Flix Event Features Movies for More Mature Audiences


      Saturday, January 25 marked the debut of a new monthly Friends event—“Flix @ the Library…for Grown-Ups”—with the showing of Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture.

      Inspired by the popularity of the well established “Flix @ the Library” program and its family-friendly offerings, “Flix for Grown-Ups” will feature movies designed for patrons who enjoy a more adult-oriented experience. 

      Organizers Debbie Straub and Holly Sturges hope to showcase recently released films that appeal to audiences in search of “intriguing storylines, skillful writing, and exceptional acting,” as Straub explained. The majority will be English-language productions unless a particularly notable foreign film comes along that crosses international boundaries with its themes and/or cast. 

      Straub said that most will be rated PG-13, although an occasional R-rated movie is not out of the question. “They will be carefully evaluated for content and suitability, and their ratings--and the reasons behind them--will be clearly advertised in all publicity materials,” she said.

      Like its predecessor, “Flix for Grown-Ups” will be held monthly from January through April and then pick up again from September through November. All events are on Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. in the Cascade Library’s Wisner Center, and just like our other Flix program, admission and snacks are free! 

      “We had wanted to schedule the movies in the evening so that it could be a “dinner and a movie” night for patrons who already had a babysitter lined up,” Straub said. “But, scheduling conflicts forced us to move it to the afternoon, instead. So, now patrons can attend the movie first and then go out to an early dinner.”

      For upcoming months, mark your calendars for February 15, March 14, and April 4. Specific movie titles will be publicized several weeks prior to the event, so be sure to look for a poster in the library or check out the Friends’ website ( and our Facebook page, as well as the Cascade Library’s Facebook page and Kent District Library publicity materials.

      Please plan to join us for “Flix @ the Library for Grown-Ups” for a brief, but wonderful, escape from winter in West Michigan as you immerse yourself in a recently released movie. For more information, contact the Cascade Library at (616) 784-2007.



Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture was  featured Jan 25 at the new Flix @ the Library for Grown-Ups.

'Chapter Two' Bookstore Is Expanding

The Used Book Store Has Seen Many Changes & Its Popularity Is Leading to More Enhancements in 2020

By Laurel Ingram

Bookstore Chairperson

      We’ve seen many improvements to the Chapter Two bookstore in the library over the past six years, resulting in amazing sales growth. And, because of that growth, the Friends and library management are planning on expanding the store in 2020 to make more books available to patrons.

     Since 2013, we have more than doubled the number of book sorters and bookstore volunteers. Improved lighting has enhanced visibility of the book titles. Decorating for the seasons has also improved. We also changed the store's appearance by putting more books on the shelves and adding a large display gondola and several book carts to hold the monthly book specials.  We have six monthly display areas featuring book categories that are not usually in the store.  Our bookstore also features vintage or collectible books on two shelves along with the classics, drama, poetry and reference books.

      Another popular addition has been the Buckmobile in the library lobby, which is an extension of Chapter Two. Patrons can purchase hard cover books there for a buck each!

      Six years ago the bookstore was averaging $1,800 per month in sales. In 2019, monthly sales had increased by 70 percent to $3,054. That growth was assisted by our decision in 2017 to begin accepting credit cards.In the last three years, we have also added an online store on eBay to sell collectible, rare and more sought-after books. An online team of 12 volunteers researches, photographs, lists and ships an average of 100 books per month, generating a monthly average of $2,456—after expenses—of additional revenue.

      All revenue is from the sale of books donated by our patrons. There are three large sales each year in March, the 4th of July and November.  Our Sales Events Chairman also sets dates for several one-day "clearance" sales during the year.Revenue generated through the sale of donated books is used to support the library with additional programming, kids programs, the Teen group, large print books and media, as well as new furnishings.

      We are looking forward to more exciting changes in 2020, including an expansion of the Chapter Two store to bring our patrons a larger, more diverse selection of gently used books and media at great prices.  By the way, our book pricing has not increased since 2012!

      It goes without saying that we could not operate a successful Friends book store without ongoing book and media donations from our patrons, especially much-needed children's and teen books. We appreciate both large and small donations.  Special arrangements can be made for estate donations or private collections by calling the library or speaking to a librarian at the Information Desk.

     As Friends of the Cascade Library, our volunteers love books and the library that makes them available to you. We hope to see you shopping in the Chapter Two Bookstore in 2020.



More shelf space should make the Chapter Two store even more attractive to library patrons in 2020.

Volunteer Corner: Bette McCune

Skilled Seamstreee Excels at Putting Clothes & People Together

      Bette McCune has been a Friends volunteer for three years. But, she has been a talented and creative seamstress for a lot longer, having learned the basics of sewing at her mother’s side as a child. 

      Those skills as a seamstress--putting pieces of cloth together in utilitarian and beautiful combinations--serve as a metaphor for the success she has had bringing people together as Volunteer Coordinator in support of events sponsored by the Friends.

      Before joining up with the Friends, Bette volunteered at Ronald McDonald House and at inner city schools reading to children. Eventually, she became a volunteer for the Friends because of a life-long love of books. But, it’s the people that make it really rewarding. “I truly enjoy the company of other volunteers and hearing their stories,” she said. “We’re all so different, but have much in common as well. I really love the Friends group here in Cascade.” 

      Besides being an avid reader, Bette has always had a passion for sewing, fascinated as a child watching her mother create so many wonderful things. “That’s where my love of sewing started,” she recalled. “She was an amazing seamstress and taught me how rewarding it can be. When I was old enough to use a machine, my mother bought me my own, put it in my room and said, ‘There, now create.’ And, that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”
      It’s not easy selecting a favorite sewing project from so many over the years, but Bette did share one fond memory of a project she worked on for a high school classmate. “I once covered the seats on an old Model T Ford in green paisley for a friend in the 1960s,“ she recalled. “He wanted a cool car, and I helped him get it!”

      Bette said she has shared her knowledge with a few people over the years, teaching them to sew. “I’ve always had them start with something simple and work up in complexity,” she said. “The first few times they finish a project, and I see the satisfaction on their faces, I know I’ve helped create another sewer. What a great feeling.”



Bette McCune and one of the handbags she is so skilled at creating.

Mark Your Calendar for These Events

Friends 2020 Calendar of Events

      The Friends have a lot going on in 2020, and we hope you can find some time in your schedule to enjoy some of the activities we have planned. Here’s a list of the events we have dates for as of today. We will provide the rest of the dates in our June newsletter. All events are in the Wisner Center at the Cascade Branch of the Kent District Library.


     Mar 20:   Members-only presale 9 to 10 am. Open to the public 10 am to 4 pm

     Mar 21:    Open to the public 9:30 am to 3 pm

     Mar 22:   Open to the public noon to 3 pm

     Jul 3:       Members-only presale 9 to 10 am. Open to the public 10 am to 3 pm

     Jul 4:       Open to the public 8:30 am to 3 pm 

     Jul 5:       Open to the public 10 am to 3 pm

     Nov 6:     Members-only presale 9 to 10 am. Open to the public 10 am to 4 pm

     Nov 7:     Open to the public 9:30 am to 4 pm

     Nov 8:     Open to the public noon to 3 pm


Movies are selected the month prior to the viewing date. Please check our website ( monthly or follow us on Facebook. Flix for families is from 2-4 pm while Flix for grown-ups is from 3-5 pm.

     For Grown-Ups  For Families

     Feb 15:  TBD          Feb 16:  TBD

     Mar 14:  TBD         Mar 15:  TBD 

     Apr 4:    TBD         Apr 26: TBD 


These group discussions are from 10 to 11 am.

     Feb 17:    The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

     Mar 16:    Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

     Apr 20:    The Library Book by Susan Orleans

     May 18:   The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim


Twice a year we invite a Michigan author to talk to us over lunch about his or her book. Lunch is $10 for members and $12 for non-members. You can just listen for $5.

     Apr 16:   It Rained in the Desert by Jocelyn Dettloff

     Sep ?:  TBD


The Friends co-sponsors free live performances once per month from October through April.

     Feb 23:  Edye Evans Hyde

     Mar 8:   Debra Perry and Majestic Praise

     Apr 19:  An Dro


You have two events to choose from in 2020. Or, maybe enjoy both if you want to really support the Friends. The restaurants generously donate a portion of your dinner tab to our organization. Download a coupon from our website before going (

     Mar 4:    First Wok; 6740 Old 28thSt SE; from 5 pm to closing

     Apr 15:   Pietro’s Italian Restaurant; 2780 Birchcrest Dr SE; from 5 pm to closing. 

Membership Renewal

Now You Can Renew Your Membership on Our Website

      If it’s time to renew your membership as a Friend of the Cascade Library, you can now do it quickly and securely on our website ( Or, if you prefer to do it the way you always have, you can download the form at and complete and return it with your payment, or drop it off at the front desk the next time you visit the library. If you choose to renew on our website, just follow these steps:

1.  Navigate to the page called “Shop.” The address provided above will automatically take you there.

2.  Select the type of membership you want to renew (e.g., Senior, Individual Adult, Family, etc.)

3.  Select how long you would like to renew for (e.g., 1 year, 2 years, etc.)

4.  If you would like to make an additional donation beyond the membership dues, click on the “Donation” box and choose from the four levels.

5.  Click “Add to Cart” and then following the checkout procedure as prompted.

      The site was originally designed to sell a physical product, which is why it makes reference to “Free Shipping.” Please just disregard that unnecessary piece of information.