Dwyane Wade helps Robbins library

September 11, 2009 5:05:48 AM PDT
A pro basketball star is trying to keep a south suburban library from closing its doors. The only library in Robbins is still open, thanks to donations and some federal aid.

Thursday, Robbins native Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat made a donation to keep the library he visited as a child open a little longer.

The community gave an emotional thank you to the native son who stepped just in time to help the hometown library that once helped him.

"We're trying to do what we can to through the Wade's World Foundation to help out in a small way for a big cause," Wade said.

The NBA superstar's $25,000 donation helps keep the William Leonard Library in the south suburb open through October.

"We'll be buy a few materials for the kids. I can get computers fixed hopefully," said Priscilla Coatney, the library administrator.

The library began making desperate pleas in August for the public's help to stay open, but a federal grant of $25,000 secured by U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush and gifts from friends only kept the facility open through the end of September.

"We're just hurting more and more and I wish someone would consider Robbins as a whole, because we really need someone to help us," Robbins Mayor Irene Brodie said.

Because of slow collection and a sluggish economy, the portion of the Cook County property tax revenue which funds the library's annual $300,000 budget has been slow in coming.

"I'm sure they are working very hard to make sure the tax money which is the lifeline of this library comes to this community," said State Representative William Davis (D).

Although he plays for the Miami Heat now, Wade grew up in Robbins.

Among his accomplishments are an NBA championship, a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic basketball team and the title of Sports Illustrated Athlete of the Year. Nevertheless, a library board member and son of the library's founder says Wade's greatest achievement is of philanthropist.

"He would be proud of where it has gone to this day," Edward Leonard Sr. said.

Audrena Spence and her 8 year old son Stephen are taking full advantage of everything the library has to offer.

"The library is a safe haven. It's a family. The children need a safe place," Spence said.

Library officials say Wade's donation should bridge the financial shortfall until the property tax revenues kick in.

The library is not the only beneficiary of Wade's generosity, his foundation and his sponsors gave $150,000 to remodel the gym of his high school alma mater.

Wade is in town this weekend as his foundation sponsors a number of events; the highlight is expected to be a competition called Chicago's Got Talent.


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