Sharon Coon Recognized at Mayor's 2016 Women's History Month Event
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., March 31, 2016 – Sharon Coon, founder of the Friends of the Brentwood Branch Library, was recognized at the Mayor's Commission on the Status of Women reception, held at the Main Library on March 30. The MCSW was established in 1972 to serve as a catalyst for moving women forward, and to recognize and acknowledge the accomplishments of outstanding women of Jacksonville.
"Her story continues ... She's more than you can see" was the theme for the special occasion with 24 honorees representing diverse backgrounds, professions, and amazing strengths. Coon was among 14 honorees who were featured with Mayor Lenny Curry on the 2016 honoree poster, which was revealed at the event, and will be housed with the collection of posters of past honorees in the Thomas G. Carpenter Library at the University of North Florida.
Known as the "Mother of Jacksonville's Children," Coon has devoted more than 50 years to her passion—making a difference in the lives of youth and of single parents living in economically deprived communities. She established Tots 'N' Teens, Florida's first multidisciplinary arts program recognized by the Florida State University and the U.S. Department of Education as a national model program. She has volunteered with numerous school and youth organizations, and through the National Council of Negro Women established the first summer youth employment training for public housing youth.
Coon said she was thrilled and humbled to accept the award on behalf of everyone who has helped her achieve her goals toward the betterment of the community. "It took a lot of ladder holding to support me through the years," said Coon. "I had to rely and stand on other's shoulders. And only because of their support, I was able to make a difference in the community.”
An advocate for the Jacksonville Public Library system, Coon organized a community campaign to help save the Brentwood Branch Library from closing when it was on the chopping block due to budget cuts a few years ago. She formed the Friends of the Brentwood Library and served as its president for the first two years. She is active in the Friends today and cautions that our community should not underestimate the value of libraries, especially in the urban core where everyone may not own a computer or be able to afford the Internet.
"Libraries are essential," said Coon. "It's like having a roof over your head. It offers a lot of opportunities for children to use free Internet and check out books. There are many programs that enhance all generations from kids to senior citizens. And it's important to those applying for jobs." As part of her lifelong commitment to the community, Coon has volunteered with the State Attorney's Juvenile Inmates program, DCPS, Jacksonville Sheriff's Advisory Council, Compassionate Families, Jacksonville Ladies, JCCI, Black Theatre Network, and the James Lee Coon Jr. AfricanAmerican History Brain Brawl. She is committed to preserving the legacy of her son James, Florida's Congressional Scholar who tragically lost his life and whose last words "Let me live so I can finish college" are preserved on the campus of UNF.
A native of Greenville, Florida, Coon grew up in Jacksonville and graduated from New Stanton High School. She attended Westchester County Business College in New York. She is the widow of U.S. Army veteran James Lee Coon Sr. and mother of Felicia and James Jr.
About the Jacksonville Public Library
The mission of the Jacksonville Public Library is to enrich lives, build community and foster success by bringing people, information and ideas together. Last year, more than 3.4 million visits were made to Jacksonville Public Libraries, items were checked out more than 5.9 million times and nearly 11,000 programs and services were offered to Duval County residents at the Main Library and 20 branch locations. For more information about the Jacksonville Public Library, call 630BOOK (2665) or visit jaxpubliclibrary.org.