HARRISON – Visiting the July 6 meeting of the Hamilton Township Board of Trustees was Sarah McCurdy from the Clare-Gladwin RESD where she serves as a parent and service coordinator. McCurdy explained that in Clare and Gladwin counties she works with parenting classes creating fun and free things for families to do. It was in that vein that she brought a couple things to talk about with the folks at Hamilton.
The first was a recently awarded $20,000 grant which is to be used for install Free Little Libraries across the two counties. She explained that the trademarked Free Little Library app provides a locating capability so people can find out where any Free Little Library is situated.
“We supply all the materials,” McCurdy said. “We just need someone to dig a hole and cement it in for us.”
She said there are a couple people in her parent group, the Parent Coalition, who would love to see one in their township: Hamilton. And so she was seeking to learn from the Board if that was an option.
“We would supply the books,” she said. “We would ask that families leave books, but we don’t expect it, because a lot of times they don’t have books to give back – so that’s perfectly fine.”
McCurdy said the reason her group wanted to do the library in Hamilton Township is that about 60% of the residents are low income.
“I grew up in Harrison, graduated from Harrison, so I know this area very well,” she said, adding one more statistic. “Numbers I pulled today show that 79% of third-graders are not proficient in reading, and that’s all of Clare County: Clare, Farwell and Harrison.”
She said the point of getting books to families is the hope that kids will ride their bikes up to the Free Little Library, get books and start to read them – and their parents as well.
The second item McCurdy broached with the Board was the possibility of mounting a large “Talking Is Teaching” prompts sign adjacent to the township’s new playground. It would include things like “Let’s talk about numbers”; “Let’s talk about our community”; “Let’s talk about Colors”; and more, some 15 in all, and stems from the premise that Talking is Teaching.
“So, when they’re [parents] out on the playground, they can kind of talk about things with their kids,” she said. McCurdy explained there was also a grant for the signs, which are available in two sizes: 18-by-24 inches or 48-by-48 inches. She said the smaller sign would require a single pole, the larger one two poles, and assured that her group would provide all the signs and materials to attach to the poles, as well as provide funds for purchasing and seating the poles.
“Not every township can get a library card without paying,” McCurdy said. “So, if our families don’t have money, the library’s the least place they’re going to go and spend money to get a library card.”
McCurdy said her two local volunteers would be available to check on the library monthly, ensuring it’s filled with books. Asked about how the books are sourced, McCurdy said grant monies, plus the C-GRESD’s roughly $5,000 budgeted annually for books. She said fliers would also be placed in the little library about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library which is funded by grants from around the county [not by Parton]. McCurdy’s office oversees that program locally, and the fliers would let families with a child ages 0-5 years know their child can receive a book every month for free, regardless of income.
McCurdy described the actual library box as being blue with a couple shelves and a latching door, embellished with “Free Little Library” and the logo.
She reiterated that when a child takes a book, they do not have to bring it back, and that her volunteer would come monthly to replenish the box.
McCurdy’s parent coalition meets monthly to plan and create fun events, and as a group will be running Kids Day at this year’s Harrison Street Fair.
Agreeing to provide the pole-setting labor, Board members decided the ideal location for the little library would be adjacent to the new parking lot area by the playground.
Supervisor David Wright said people in boots were needed to install the playground equipment, which he expects to happen in August. That, along with the Free Little Library, will no doubt be marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Interested residents should stay tuned – or better yet, maybe volunteer some time and muscle.
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