What is a community? In simplest terms, a community is a group of people. A community may share the same city or they may simply share common attitudes, interests, and goals. No matter how we define it, any community improves and grows when people connect with each other in positive ways; for example, through active partnerships that benefit everyone involved.
Such a partnership exists between Community Living Elgin and the St. Thomas Public Library. Launched in 2012, it has been a great success for both partners. Every other Tuesday, two members of STPL staff (Darlene and Dana) host a fun program for clients of Community Living Elgin. Participants enjoy presentations on topics chosen by members of the group, as well as stories read aloud and crafts. Recent topics have included: Koalas, Monkeys, the Arctic, Dinosaurs and St. Patrick’s Day. Story readings have sometimes turned into sing-a-longs, and crafts have included jointed paper monkeys, polar bears made from cotton balls and rainbows made from Froot Loops.
There are two Community Living groups who participate in this program – one group travels to the library and the other group we visit at the Community Living Elgin building on Talbot Street. The program provides participants with an interesting break in their day, an opportunity to interact with peers, and the chance to learn something new. Judging from the smiles, the laughs, the handshakes and the hugs, everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. However, the benefit is not just one way – we gain a lot from this partnership as well. It feels great to get a hug from someone who’s had a good time, to hear someone say “This is really fun!” or to watch someone carefully creating a beautiful rainbow from colourful cereal. The STPL mission is to educate, inform and enrich. With this partnership, the education and enrichment go both ways.