Henderson couple gives fourth $25,000 donation to library district

The Henderson Libraries Foundation received a generous donation thanks to Henderson residents Robert and Sandy Ellis.

The couple awarded a $25,000 gift to the foundation in June, marking their fourth $25,000 donation to the foundation and Henderson District Public Libraries in 3½ years.

“My wife and I always said if we ever had any extra money, we wanted to give it away,” Robert Ellis said. “The community’s been good to us, so this is how we’ve decided to give back.”

Ellis and his wife chose the Henderson libraries after speaking with former executive director Tom Fay about the needs of the children.

“I learned many years ago that if these kids don’t learn to read or write by the third grade, that’s how they judge who will end up in juvenile hall or prison,” Ellis said. “It’s important to help these kids because we might lose them at an early age.”

The first donation was used to create a teen lounge at the Green Valley Library, 2797 N. Green Valley Parkway, in January 2011. The space includes a teen book collection, computers, Wii, PlayStation 3 and study lounge area.

In August 2011, the second donation was given through the “One for a Million” campaign to support the libraries’ book budget.

The third gift was awarded during the 2013 Nevada Big Give event and used to purchase tablets for training programs, support summer reading programs and assist in the implementation of the solar project at the Paseo Verde Library, 280 S. Green Valley Parkway.

“What they’ve done so far with all the money is great,” Robert Ellis said. “They have given people a place where they can go and escape all the outside elements of the world.”

In late 2012, the Henderson District Public Libraries closed its Galleria and Lydia Malcolm libraries following the rejection of a ballot measure to increase tax rates to supplement the budget, according to Ann Small-Williams, foundation chairwoman.

“Unlike other libraries in town, the Henderson District Public Libraries is not part of the city,” Small-Williams said. “We get our funding from property taxes, which are very low in Henderson.”

The district also reduced its branches’ hours of operation because of financial issues.

“Although the bond issues have been turned down, the usage of the libraries continues,” Small-Williams said. “There’s a real need for the foundation to help the libraries, and any small donation helps.”

Robert and Sandy Ellis moved to the Las Vegas Valley in the 1950s and graduated from Rancho and Basic high schools, respectively. Robert Ellis is the president and CEO of Snap Towing and former owner of B&E Auto Auction.

The couple have also made donations to Nevada State College, UNLV, Basic High School and Whitney Elementary School.

“They’re a lovely couple who has been in Henderson a good number of years,” Small-Williams said. “They’re really dedicated citizens who try to help the community and libraries. They’re outstanding.”

The Paseo Verde Library, Green Valley Library and Gibson Library, 100 W. Lake Mead Parkway, are open from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The Heritage Park Library, 300 S. Racetrack Road, is open to individuals 50 or older from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, visit mypubliclibrary.com.

Contact Henderson View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at cbelcher@viewnews.com or 702-383-0403.