Finding Her Purpose, Lending a Hand Elgin Official Leads Drive to Rebuild Libraries Hit by Katrina

Article excerpt

Byline: Christine Byers Daily Herald Staff Writer

Faith Brautigam has little to no knowledge about construction.

She is allergic to mold.

And the petite librarian can barely reach the top shelves at Elgin's Gail Borden Library - let alone rip down walls inside hurricane-ravaged homes.

So when the St. Charles woman volunteered to travel with 14 members of the Fox Valley Bible Church to help with recovery efforts in New Orleans, she wondered just what she could contribute.

But her purpose came to her.

"I was so stunned," said the head of Gail Borden's Youth Services, describing her reaction when a woman asked her to help reorganize a children's library at the Castle Rock church in New Orleans Parish. "It took me a while to tell her that's what I do."

A large multipurpose room inside the church served as the library. All of the books and shelves had been shoved in corners away from the windows to escape the storm's furious winds.

They have remained there for most of the last five months as the church's staff focuses on emergency needs, such as rebuilding homes and restoring electricity.

For the better part of the weeklong trip, Brautigam spent her days organizing close to 1,000 books. Normally, the church's library serves low-income students from various reading levels.

Thanks to Brautigam's efforts, the interns who run the library can now select books that correspond to a child's reading level.

Brautigam wasn't able to see children actually benefit from her work, because most of the children have yet to return to the flood- damaged area.

"It would not have been a priority if we hadn't shown up," she said. "But we thought, this is great because it's ready to go."

Aside from her work at the church, Brautigam and her fellow parishioners spent some time traveling throughout the most damaged areas. …