COLUMN: Effusively, gratefully yours

Anne DeGrace salutes the Friends of Nelson Elders

Last week a lovely cheque came into the library. It wasn’t unexpected, but it was hugely appreciated.

Appreciated, because the 2017 donation from the Friends of Nelson Elders (FONE) will fund the purchase of materials and programs that benefit seniors in particular, and the greater community.

Expected, because unlike many funders, FONE supports the library — and other groups — year after year. This repeat generosity is wonderful; anyone involved in a nonprofit knows the tenuousness of an annual budget. While FONE funds one-offs as well — the library’s automatic doors, for example — they see repeat funding as important.

“If it was a good thing for seniors in a previous year, we can be confident that it will be a good thing if we grant repeat funding,” says FONE president George Millar. It’s a refreshingly rational policy.

FONE benefits from the Osprey Foundation’s Sheba Fund. The fund, established by a generous donor, designates one half of the fund’s earnings for projects that improve the lives of the elderly. FONE, in turn, funds many good things: music therapy at Mountain Lake and Jubilee Manor, Christmas goodies at seniors’ residences, and a lift assist for the Nelson Tramway, among other projects, including Nelson Public Library services to seniors.

The library buys large print books and audiobooks on CD or MP3 with the annual FONE grant. The grant also supports Senior’s Outreach, which means that once a month a live librarian — currently, Catherine Brochhagen — brings a selection of materials to Mountain Lake and Lakeview Village for residents to borrow. But it’s more than that.

“When Catherine is set up in the assisted living room, it feels like an actual library,” says Sandra Grochowich, the Life Enrichment Co-ordinator at Mountain Lake. “The tenants gather and browse through the books and DVDs and there is a positive, social, community-orientated atmosphere. For some of our elders in residential care, this is the only activity they take part in. They look forward to Catherine’s visits and often inquire as to when the ‘library lady’ will be here.”

What a nice testimonial! And by all accounts, true. Catherine sometimes refers to the residents as “my seniors” and deeply cares about the quality of the selection and the service.

This year, the FONE grant was a little larger to accommodate the rise in book prices over the last few years, as well as the purchase of a Victor Streamer, an easy-to-use audio player we’ll pre-load with books from the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS), an organization that records books for people who live with a print disability.

Both the Nelson Library and FONE have at their core a deep interest in fostering quality of life. Heather Goldik, the driving force behind senior’s programming, puts it like this: “Books are for everyone! It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, what form they come in or how you access them. We just want to make sure there aren’t any barriers to reading.”

We love cheques at the library — both the expected and unexpected variety — the better to support lifelong love of reading. Should you wish to surprise us, you can direct your donation to collections and core services; capital projects and improvements; literacy and lifelong learning; community connections; or technology. In return, you get our delighted surprise, our effusive thanks, and a charitable receipt for your tax return.

It is our community donors who helped our library expand, who regularly sponsor magazine subscriptions, who join The Friends of the Library to help raise money through book sales, and who want to see the library be the very best it can be. It’s not entirely unexpected, because community generosity has been around since the library’s earliest days. But it is always appreciated.

Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Co-ordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week.

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