Building for Dreamers
Community Center and Library opens doors in French Harbour

February 1st, 2006
by Thomas Tomczyk

[private] v4-2-Business-Jared Hynds LibraryIn a collaboration of local government funding, Expat initiative and local business know-how French Harbour and Roatan received its first community center and library. The two-story, bright, yellow building stands next to the French Harbour Adventist Church. Its 6,500 square feet are tailed with ceramic tiles, lined with mahogany shelves and its media center walls are decorated with French impressionist painters’ posters. An eighty-year-old breadfruit that grew on the site donated by the municipal was not only saved, but given a prominent place in the center’s courtyard.

This generous and attentively built culture center was built to design and standards uncommon in Honduras. “This is the best constructed [Roatan] municipal structure,” said Jose Antonio Perdomo, who supervised for as many as 36 municipal workers constructing the building. In fact the structure is built strong and big enough to serve as the municipal’s first Hurricane shelter.

On May 25, 2005, the project broke ground and during the last six month, the worksite was a beehive of activity as workers scrambled to finish the construction before the change of local government.

On January 22 the Jared Hynds Community Center, named after Mayor Hynd’s son who died in an automobile accident, opened its doors. Several people had tears in their eyes as the ribbon was cut and over 200 people listened to the opening ceremony, enjoyed a snack at the center’s café and got their library cards, for some, their first ones ever.

The person who was key in making the project happen, was Catherine McCabe, an American retiree, who ever since she moved to the island in 2000, was thinking about constructing a community library on the island. McCabe wrote-up a proposal for the library and carried it around everywhere she went for the past four years.

Finally, in September 2004, she took the proposal to a meeting about the Bay Islands University in which a requirement for a university library was discussed. Again she proposed the idea of the library and she finally found a listing ear. “Mayor Hynds told me: ‘I will build it, if you run it,'” said McCabe.

Subsequently the library idea expanded into a larger community center building that included plans for a post office and a driver education center. “We want eventually to have everyone take it [driver education course]. If we are going to be a tourist destination, we need to do this,” said Mayor Hynds.

The building houses a 5,200 book lending library, a reference library, beginnings of a media center, children’s library, driver education center, a space for a post office, and an internet café. “It’s not just a building. It’s a purpose,” said McCabe who donated 3,000 of her own books to the library. Linda Brown, an American Expat, catalogued the collection and Secretariat of Honduras’ Culture Sports and Culture donated 600 books in Spanish to complement the mostly English language collection.

The multipurpose building will not only serve the local community, but is envisioned as tourist attraction and a university research library. According to Marlene Jackson, one of two librarians working at the center, the library had 22 members. [/private]

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