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Support for library

Often referred to as the “golden anniversary,” it is common to give a gift with gold details for a 50th wedding anniversary, symbolizing health, strength, success, perfection and lifelong love in the marriage. On Jan. 6, one Northampton Borough couple - Barry and Joanne Santee - celebrated this significant occasion.

In early May, The Press spoke with the Santees to talk about why this anniversary was special to them in more than one way. As a lover of libraries, Joanne said Northampton Area Public Library, 1615 Laubach Ave., is special to her and Barry.

“The library had been there for our two daughters during schooling,” Joanne said. “You can also go in there without a penny in your pocket and come out feeling like a millionaire. You can go around the world there. It’s a great place for everyone.”

In the past, she casually told family that when it was her time to leave this Earth, she wished to have contributions made to the library in her memory. Their daughters and their husbands, Beverly and Mike Jenkins, of Bath, and Ashley and Clay Hereth, of Philadelphia, thought, “Why wait to make donations?” So they didn’t!

Their daughters and sons-in-law planned a surprise party for Barry and Joanne on the day of their anniversary at Woodstone Country Club, Danielsville, for family and friends to celebrate. With music, dancing and more, the Santees said fun was had by all.

“When we got there, they opened the door, and there were 70-75 people there. It was awesome,” Joanne said.

On a table at the party were a picture display and a 3-D-printed box, made by their grandson, that said library donations accepted. Invitees were informed before the party of this idea. Joanne and Barry conveyed their family and friends were very receptive to the idea of donating money to the library in lieu of an anniversary gift.

Joanne said close to $500 was collected for the library.

“When I took the money in,” Joanne said, “I spoke with Rachel and was thinking they’d buy some books with it. Then she said, ‘Maybe we could do a bench.’ And I said, ‘Well, OK!’ And that’s exactly what they did - a bench and books. And it’s really nice as they placed it right outside the library door.”

A plaque attached to the bench says, “In honor of Barry and Joanne Santee’s 50th wedding anniversary.” And the clincher - the plaque is gold.

Veronica Laroche, director of the Northampton library, said, “Not only were we able to buy a bench in honor of Barry and Joanne’s 50th wedding anniversary, we were also able to purchase books - items the couple thought would be loved by or useful for their grandchildren and other children and families in our area.”

Items purchased included “The Magnificent Book of Extinct Animals,” “The Magnificent Book of Insects and Spiders,” “The Magnificent Book of Birds,” “I Spy Construction Vehicles,” “Ricky, the Rock That Just Couldn’t Rhyme,” “Adulting for Beginners” and “Wild Philly.”

“Helping to expand the library collection is useful in so many ways; it allows us to fill in gaps in the collection, and patrons always appreciate new books to choose from, especially when they’re prominently displayed,” Laroche added.

She noted patrons love the new bench, which is located just outside the main door.

“It’s sheltered under the eave to be comfortably shaded from the sun at most hours and keeps the majority of weather at bay on poor days,” Laroche said. “There are consistent patrons who utilize our Wi-Fi Fridays when the library does not have open hours, and Barry and Joanne’s bench is the preferred seat of choice for getting work done on a laptop.

Laroche reported the bench itself was placed in early April, but they had to wait for the plaque to arrive and the weather to cooperate before installing it.

“After the bench was put out, we got an anniversary card and thank you from a gentleman thanking us for donating the bench. He said he sat on it. That really put the icing on the cake,” Joanne said. “We’re supporting our town.”

The Santees said they hope the contributions made by their family and friends inspire others to donate time or money to help organizations.

“I hope there is continuing support for our library. It’s a good idea (to help others/an organization) if someone is looking to support a charity, especially one that isn’t getting a lot of federal money,” Joanne said.

“[We’d] like to thank everyone, our daughters and their spouses and our family and friends who made this possible to do this for the library,” Joanne and Barry said.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Barry and Joanne Santee, of Northampton Borough, take a photo by the bench at Northampton Area Public Library, 1615 Laubach Ave., that was donated in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Barry and Joanne Santee and their family members gather for an anniversary party Jan. 6 at Woodstone Country Club, Danielsville.