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Nothnagel Family

Library Helps a Military Family Bridge the Distance

Dorinda Nothnagel’s daughter, Anna, was deployed with the Navy shortly after giving birth.  Because her daughter was a single mother, Dorinda knew her responsibilities as a grandmother were to change drastically. She and her husband, Glen, quickly stepped back into the role of parents, and have raised their grandson Jayden while his mother is serving her country overseas.

With so many years passed since raising her own daughter, Dorinda surrounds herself with a network of support as she once again navigated the challenges and joys of parenting. Among the most important resources, says Dorinda, is her local San Diego Public Library.

“The library has always been a part of our lives,” says Dorinda. “The first thing I did when we moved to San Diego shortly after Jayden was born was to get everyone a library card. The library is great not only for free books and programs, but to learn more about our city and community.”

Jayden, who turns five next month, looks forward to the Nothnagel’s regular trips to the Tierrasanta Branch Library. Among his favorite activities is participating in the Library’s Summer Reading Program. The popular literacy program boosts reading skills and keeps students learning during the summer months, with fun activities and special incentives to encourage children to read ten or more books.

In addition to providing free educational enrichment throughout the week for Jayden, the library’s programs and resources are an important tool to help him cope with the absence of his mother.

“It’s a diversion from missing Anna,” says Dorinda. “He has learned that when he reads, he can be transported wherever he wants. We read many books which related to what he is going through and help him understand where his mother is and what she is doing.”

For Dorinda, the library also provides an important community. She has met other military families who offer support, even helping her find the perfect preschool for Jayden last year.  Dorinda regularly uses the library’s many free services, including expansive online databases, job searching classes, health and parenting collections. In addition, library staff helps her locate additional resources for military families in San Diego.

Jayden looks forward to his regular visits to the Library, which help him cope with the absence of his mother while she is deployed with the Navy.— Jayden Steill and Glen Nothnagel

Anna is currently on her second tour, and has missed many milestones as Jayden grows and learns. However, a special military program, United Through Reading, allows her to engage in one important parental activity no matter where she is – reading Jayden a bedtime story. Anna records videos of herself reading stories while at sea, and Jayden goes to the library to check out the book and follow along as his mother reads on video.

“Jayden looks forward to these moments – they are so special for him,” says Dorinda. “Reading bridges the gap between him and his mother, no matter how far away she is.”