Everyone loves a great story with a happy ending. In Becky Berry’s case, her dream to expand and reopen her beloved Atascocita branch of the Harris County Library is coming true.
The “surprising twist” is that the million-dollar expansion includes a much-needed community room that will carry her name.
Harris County’s commissioners unanimously approved naming the Atascocita branch conference room after Berry during their May 11 meeting.
“Becky Berry has been a force of nature by herself to get her Atascocita neighbors engaged in the Atascocita branch,” District 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said during the meeting. “I move that we name the room she advocated for in her honor. Ms. Berry, congratulations.”
The court voted unanimously to name the soon-to-be constructed room the Becky Berry Conference Room.
“I was totally surprised to learn I was even being considered for the honor of having my name on the new meeting room,” Berry told The Tribune. “I feel very emotional knowing I am being recognized for something I believe in so strongly and have worked for more than 25 years. Our library serves so many purposes and is so important to the community.”
Berry’s advocacy for a community room named in her honor caps a 25-year journey in which she first championed simply for a library that Atascocita could call its own.
“Friends of the Atascocita Library (FOAL) first took root in 1986 when a now deceased Atascocita resident and retired educator, Odell Dreyer, envisioned a library to serve the fast-growing Atascocita area,” Berry recalled. “FOAL was founded and incorporated in 1991, fundraising began and a groundbreaking was held in 1994 with the library finally opening on May 5, 1996.”
Berry and her group spent three years selling engraved bricks for the covered porch walkway, selling children’s handprints for the outside library walls, conducting fashion shows, luncheons, book sales, even golf tournaments, so that, by groundbreaking time, they presented a check for $20,000 to the county to purchase books.
Since then, Berry and FOAL have raised $23,000 to purchase computers, $5,000 to install a security camera system plus upkeep and $23,000 to purchase the LED color sign which displays the library’s programs and activities.
“Becky Berry has led the effort during COVID to continue the branch’s programs both online and curbside,” Garcia said. “Since 2007, she has worked consistently to promote the expansion of the facility. We are so grateful to have such an engaged, committed member of our community like Ms. Berry.”
District 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle recalled the brief time the Atascocita branch was in his district.
“I spent a pleasant afternoon speaking about Alexander the Great one time,” Cagle recalled. “I am delighted to join you in this resolution, Commissioner Garcia.”
Berry found out she was on the May 11 agenda when Beth Krippel, the Atascocita Branch manager told her.
“I had no idea she had been advocating for the room name,” Berry said. “I watched it twice the next day. It was moving to hear Commissioner Garcia offering such complimentary remarks, and it was nice to see Commissioner Cagle remember the short time we were in Precinct 4 when he spoke at an FOAL meeting.”
Krippel, the Atascocita Branch manager, has worked with Berry for 16 years.
“Her support for our mission and goals has never wavered,” she said. “That she has given time and resources to the library for 25 years is devotion to a volunteer position that is rarely seen.”
With the expansion approval timed during the Branch’s 25th anniversary, Krippel detailed Berry’s service to the library and explored the procedures to have the new meeting room named in her honor.
The million-dollar expansion was included in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) approved by Harris County Commissioners Court in their 2020-21 fiscal year budget and comes just in time for the Branch’s 25th anniversary.
“With no community center in Atascocita, our library serves multiple purposes — voting booths during elections, space for community meetings and multiple library and community programs,” said Berry.
Construction bids are under review with the county. Groundbreaking will occur in late summer with the ribbon cutting occurring in mid-2022.
Even with a community room named in her honor, this is no time for Becky Berry to slow down.
“As soon as the needs have been assessed, FOAL will begin fundraising efforts to provide tables and chairs for the new room. Donations have started to come in and may be designated for ‘Meeting Room.’ Completion of the expansion will be exciting,” she said.
“Friends and neighbors of Ms. Berry, tip your hat to her,” Garcia said as he concluded his remarks. “Thank her. Congratulate her. We couldn’t have done this without her advocacy.”
The library is located on Pinehurst Trail Drive near FM 1960 in Atascocita and is one of 26 branches of the Harris County Public Library.
Most Harris County library branches, including the Atascocita, Kingwood and Octavia Fields branches, have opened for limited hours, hcpl.net.
Checks can be sent to FOAL, 19520 Pinehurst Trail Dr., Humble 77346. Anyone can join FOAL. Tax deductible membership levels range from $5 to $25 and additional donations are always welcome, Berry said. Membership includes a newsletter, postcard reminder of book sales and special events, and opportunities to volunteer for book sales and serve as officers and committee chairs, foal.ws.