Like many Johnson County Library patrons, Joel Aldape has always appreciated the friendly staff, the books for children, and the public computers.
But Aldape discovered another Library resource that made an even more significant difference in his life. Beginning in the early 1980s, he began seeking out its financial research materials. The information helped him achieve great success with his investments.
Aldape didn’t start out with an investor’s mentality. He grew up in Texas, where his father was a minister with the philosophy, “If you have extra money, hide it under the bed.”
But after he was married with children and living in Lenexa, Aldape started making modest investments in the stock of companies he liked (the Warren Buffett strategy), and watched those stock prices rise. That sparked his interest and he became a self-educated investor.
He visited the Lackman branch, asking if they had financial magazines, reports and bulletins. Yes, they had a good collection. He first read printed copies and then online at the Library.
“The Library had two resources that were very helpful, the Value Line and the Morningstar Investment Research Center,” Aldape said. “I would usually go once a week, on the weekends. It helped me a lot.”
Aldape never invested money he needed for life’s necessities. But over time he did very well.
“I’ve been able to acquire more wealth than I ever expected,” he said. “I’m at the point I can help other people, and my wife and I do that.”
Aldape also consistently sought out the Library’s Consumer Reports materials. Those articles were essential when he was making appliance and car purchases.
For many years, before he bought a home computer, he regularly used Lackman’s public computers and printers, while his three youngest children loved reading and exploring the branch’s children’s section.
In his professional life, Aldape had a rewarding career for decades with the Social Security Administration, first in Texas and then at the Kansas City Program Service Center. He rose to the position of Section Manager, overseeing 200 employees, before he retired in 2010.
In retirement, Aldape and his wife moved to Olathe. They enjoy the Olathe Library, and also frequently visit Johnson County Library’s Lenexa City Center branch.
For the past two years, he has been involved in a challenging and gratifying activity. He volunteers as a Spanish-speaking instructor at Lansing Correctional Facility, preparing inmates for release back into society. Through the Brothers in Blue Reentry program, he teaches class once a week, helping about a dozen students with lessons in literacy, life skills, social skills, and other reentry priorities.
Aldape’s first language was Spanish and he grew up bilingual in Texas, so a Brothers in Blue program representative sought him out, hoping he would be willing to assist the Spanish-speaking inmates.
“I said I’d be glad to help,” Aldape recalled. “I knew it would be for a good cause. A lot of people helped me in my career, so if I can help someone else I’d like to do the same thing.”
Aldape remains grateful for Johnson County Library’s expansive collection. He encourages other patrons to explore all its services and programs. He also appreciates how the Library is open to all, no matter a person’s income, ethnicity, religion, nationality or status.
“The beauty is that everyone is equal when they walk in the Library,” he said. “The Library is a diamond in the rough. It’s like a four-leaf clover. You won’t find it, unless you’re looking for it.”