Here’s a holiday story to send you into the New Year with a warm heart.
Every year since 1999, staff from Kitchener Public Library have worked with women at the Grand Valley Institution on a special holiday gift, and this year was no exception.
The Links to Literacy program offers a chance for mothers and grandmothers living in prison at Grand Valley to communicate and bond with their children or grandchildren through books, while allowing the children to have a positive interaction with a woman who is absent from their daily lives.
The women read a story aloud – Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch – a popular modern classic about the bond between a mother and her son.
Bryan Dunham, head of IT at Kitchener Public Library, tapes each woman reading the book, then adds holiday graphics and creates a unique DVD for each of the children. Sherry Erb, co-ordinator of volunteer services, and Laura Reed, co-ordinator of children’s and teen services, work with the women to wrap a package for each child, including the DVD, a copy of the book, some treats, and a hand-written card.
For some of the kids, this is their only opportunity to see their mother or grandmother and hear her voice.
But the program isn’t only beneficial to the women and children. It’s a positive experience for staff as well.
“I love this program,” says Laura Reed. “Each year it’s such a powerful experience to know we are enabling the women to connect with their children, whom they can’t be with, through literacy. It is an emotional journey for them, and I know it must be so meaningful for the kids. Highlight of my holidays.”
In 2009, the project earned the prestigious Angus Mowat Award of Excellence from the Ontario Public Library Association.
This is a good time to start thinking about 2015 and ways that you can create positive connections in our community!