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March Newsletter

This month: Barbara wins the statewide award for Library Volunteer of the Year, and our new monthly caregiver support group.

March 1, 2020

Volunteer of the Year!

Barbara Ritchie receives state-wide Edith B. Nettleton Award for Library Volunteer of the Year
Barbara Ritchie
Volunteer of the Year

It is my pleasure to announce that our very own Barbara Ritchie will be receiving the state-wide Edith B. Nettleton Award for Library Volunteer of the Year!

Barbara Ritchie has been delivering library materials to homebound library patrons in Berlin since 2013. Her story began in 2012, with a broken ankle. Due to her injury, she couldn’t work or drive for ten weeks. Barbara, an avid reader, was fortunate enough to have family members visit the library and bring books to her. While recuperating, Barbara started thinking of those who didn’t have the same support system she had. She especially felt an affinity for book lovers without access to the library. One day, she decided to do something about it.

When Barbara was able to drive again, one of her first stops was to the library to inquire about volunteering to deliver books to the homebound. This was a service library staff had always wanted to implement and thus began a wonderful partnership. An official homebound delivery service was soon off the ground. Barbara was so enthusiastic, she even purchased business cards and a banner to advertise the service.

Our patrons look forward to Barbara’s weekly visits, smiling face, and their new pile of books. Sometimes she might be the only person they see all week. They discuss their favorite authors and ideas for new titles. Barbara makes notes of their preferences and brings the requests back to the library (one elderly woman said the books weren’t “spicy” enough, so her picks were adjusted).

When people are unable to leave home, whether due to advanced age, illness or disability, they can become quite isolated from the outside world. For our homebound patrons, some of whom can read five novels a week, books bring joy into their lives. Barbara delivers joy, in more ways than one.

The program has grown so much that we have accepted another volunteer, Sharman French, to give Barbara a hand. If you would like a visit from one of these lovely ladies, please call the reference desk at 860-828-7126.

Caregiver’s Support Group

As part of a grant we received to establish services for those dealing with memory issues, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, we are starting a caregiver’s support group in association with Hartford Healthcare and the Alzheimer’s Association of CT. The group will meet the 3rd Monday of each month from 1:00 to 3:00 pm in the Library Board Room beginning March 16.

These groups allow caregivers of all ages to discuss ways of coping, learn about community resources and share their feelings, needs and concerns. Those interested in attending should call Patty O’Brian, CDP, Dementia Specialist, from Hartford Healthcare Center for Healthy Aging, at 860-628-3833.

Helen Malinka, Library Director
Helen Malinka
Library Director


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