A Gem of a Find in the Small Town of Willimantic, Maine

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This summer, I had the pleasure of visiting with my friend, Marilyn, who lives in Willimantic, Maine.  Willimantic is a small town of 150 people in Piscataquis County.  I shared about our day of hiking beautiful Borestone Mountain in my last “travel” post “Summer/Fall Memories of 2017.”

I waited to share about Willimantic’s little gem as I wanted to write a separate post on my author’s page to give it the proper attention it deserves.  Over the years, the population declined  and the one-room schoolhouse was closed. Today, children are bused to school in the nearby town.

For awhile, the closed schoolhouse was utilized as a library.  Groups of individuals tried to keep it opened but as time went by, interest in the library waned.  In 1990, the doors were finally closed.  With no heat the books became moldy and over the years, the historical building began to fall into disrepair.

Fortunately, town residents, David and Madeline Thayer, had the foresight to save the building and reopen the library.  They applied and were awarded grant money to put toward the preservation of the building.   The grant money, and some of the Thayer’s personal donations, allowed for the necessary repairs to be made to restore the building, remove the lead paint to make the building safe, install new windows, add a handicap ramp and paint the inside and outside of the building.  Much of the work was done by David and Madeline with the help of occasional volunteers.

They went through the books that were left in the building to see what could be salvaged, which sadly was very little.  An appeal was made for people to donate new or gently used books to build the inventory back up.  Eventually, the work was finished and it has all paid off.  The Norton’s Corner Schoolhouse and Library was open in 2013.

They have integrated the character of the schoolhouse…the chalkboard still adorns the wall, the teacher’s and student desk are still in place and throughout, on the shelves that David built, are the books that can be borrowed.  Also, there are several historical documents and pictures on display.   The library fills a void that was felt in the community.  Along with books and historical documents, Wifi is offered and a variety of programs from reading to arts and crafts are offered.

20545477_1653508381358108_6100458161141342112_oI am pleased to share that I donated my books, Brave Nellie and Lizzie’s Lesson to this wonderful library.   I look forward to visiting and reading my books to the children some Saturday.

Willimantic is in such a beautiful rural area.  The Appalachian Trail passes close by.  There are charming babbling brooks nearby and wonderful hiking trails to enjoy the natural surroundings.  I hope that with my post about Borestone Mountain and this quaint library, it will pique you interest enough to plan a visit to the area and see for yourself this great “little gem” of Willimantic.

Norton’s Corner Schoolhouse and Library is open on Saturday afternoon from noon to 3:00 PM.  I encourage you to “like” their Facebook page – search Norton’s Corner Schoolhouse and Library on Facebook.

Until next time, I wish you blessings…….

 

 

 

 

MY BOOKS MAY NOT BE ON THE BEST SELLER’S LIST BUT…..

I feel as though I have written best sellers! I have written two children’s books, Brave Nellie and Lizzie’s Lesson.  Brave Nellie’s message is – new things may be scary but if you are willing to try, good things can happen. Lizzie’s message is – to always look for the positive in all situations.Brave Nellie Cover

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Nellie

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Lizzie

 

I have had wonderful times sharing both Nellie’s and Lizzie’s stories to young and old by visiting schools, civic clubs and retirement communities. I have a slideshow of the dogs and explain how the stories came about.  Over the past couple of years, people have shared with me how my books have made an impact on a child’s life.

One of my high school classmates gave Brave Nellie to his ill grandson who, at the time, was undergoing medical testing for an unknown condition. After hearing Nellie’s story and while walking into the hospital, for yet another round of tests, he looked at his mom and asked, “Do I have to be brave like Nellie?”

Another lady shared that her disabled son, who was around 40 years old at the time, was able to read Brave Nellie by himself…a first for him. He was facing a major change in his life by moving from the familiarity and comfort of his home to a new environment of a group home. One of the first things that he packed in his suitcase was his book Brave Nellie so he could read it when he felt he needed a reminder that good things do happen when you are brave and willing to try new things.

While living in Johannesburg, South Africa, I met a lady who had started an orphanage. I had brought copies of Brave Nellie with me, some of which I donated to her establishment.  I, also, enjoyed the opportunity to read Brave Nellie to the children. Later, my friend shared a video of all the children reciting Nellie’s message “What to do? What to do? All so scary, all so new! But I must try each day to be brave and everything will be OK!” It was adorable!

After we left, Johannesburg, my friend shared that one of the little boys had been adopted by a family in Nebraska. As a memento of his time at the orphanage, he was offered to choose an item. He chose my book Brave Nellie!

Lizzie’s Lesson has been given to people young and old who are facing challenging times. One lady bought it as a gift for her friends who recently had given birth to twin boys but only one had survived. It is difficult to imagine that something good can come from such a tragedy but I truly believe that difficult times help us to learn and grow. I do hope that they found some comfort in Lizzie’s message.

Another fan is a little girl had recently been removed from her mother’s home and placed with her father to live – a sad and difficult situation for any child to go through. Lizzie’s Lesson is her favorite bedtime story.  “When things change and I feel sad, I will always remember good comes from bad.”  I am hoping Lizzie’s message will give her comfort when she needs it most.

As I shared earlier, my books are not on any best seller’s list but from the feedback I have received, I feel as though I have written “best sellers.” If you have one of my books and are willing to share with me how they have helped you or a loved one, I would love to hear your story!

My third book is currently being edited and illustrated. It is about a cute French Bulldog, who has been in my life. His message to children is “you are awesome for just being yourself.” Look for the release sometime next year!

I welcome any opportunity to share my books and slide show to groups of all ages.  If you are interested in having me visit your establishment,  you may contact me at sharalynlovesanimals@gmail.com.

I wish you blessings……

Donation made to “Grow Your Library Program” in Arizon

I just love how “cosmic dots” connect to bring people together so that good things can happen to help people in need.

Dennis and Glenda are our dear friends from Nebraska.  They recently took a cruise to Antarctica.  Also on that cruise, was Gary Mlodzik and his daughter Kody, who are from Arizona.  Gary and his wife, Tina are board members for an Arizona-based, non-profit organization “Kids Need to Read.”

The Kids Need to Read Program is dedicated to encourage children to read more by providing books to underfunded schools, libraries and literacy programs across the United States.  They especially target more disadvantage communities.

From their involvement with Kids Need to Read, Gary and Tina have created the Grow Your Library Program.  After they share story time with children at a library, Gary and Tina issue a challenge to them.  If a child checks out a book and reports back within thirty days of the presentation, another book is donated to the library on behalf of that child. A bookplate is placed in the donated book to acknowledge the child’s effort.  Imagine a child’s sense of pride in knowing that he helped get a new book donated to his library and seeing his name inside of that book!

When Dennis and Glenda heard of Kids Need To Read/Grow Your Library Program, they thought of me!  The process of introducing everyone is yet another reminder of how grateful I am for the internet and how it can keep us all connected!  At the time I received the email, David and I were in Rome, Dennis and Glenda were enjoying a ski week in Colorado and Gary had just arrived back to Arizona after a trip to New York City where he met with Penguin Random House, who had just donated books to KNTR.

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I am excited to share that 20 copies of Brave Nellie and 20 copies of Lizzie’s Lesson were mailed today as a donation to this wonderful program.  I am so pleased and honored that I was given the opportunity to support a program that helps and encourages underprivileged children to learn to dream through the power of books.

Blessings to Glenda, Dennis, Gary and Tina.  I just hope that one day, the “cosmic dots” will connect and we will be able to all meet!

If you would like to know more about Kids Need To Read/Grow Your Library programs or better yet, make a donation, please visit their website:    www.kidsneedtoread.org