Story and photo by Alice Gerard
On Aug. 12, children and adults gathered at a tent next to the Grand Island Memorial Library to celebrate the end of the summer reading programs with ice cream and with crafts, and with drawings for prizes. They also had the opportunity to talk to Marissa Ries and James Peterson from Spectrum Health about a program called NY Project Hope that provides information, education, emotional support, and links to resources.
According to Ries, “We are helping people understand their emotional response for COVID. We also go out into the community to educate people about the free resources, and to help people develop coping skills through groups in the community. We’ve been coming to the library since the spring.”
Ries said help is also available via an emotional support help line, which is free, anonymous and confidential. It is available to anyone who wants to discuss any issue related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“You don’t have to be in crisis to call,” she said. The help line is available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. The phone number is 716-566-6506.
Peterson said working with the program has been “a great opportunity to reach out to the Western New York community.”
He added the sessions at the Grand Island Memorial Library have been good, and “we have an ongoing group of adults who have participated in our self-care and mindfulness sessions.” That also includes chair yoga. He also expressed gratitude to the library “who so graciously provides us the space to implement our sessions.”
The next session is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 2. All are welcome to attend.
In addition to the information provided by Ries and Peterson, there were volunteers at a table who offered cups of chocolate and vanilla swirl, as well as a variety of toppings for the ice cream. They also served beverages to all who attended the event.
According to Carly Spatar, youth services librarian at Grand Island Memorial Library, children and teenagers had the opportunity to play a Bingo game to win prizes that were provided by the Friends of the Grand Island Memorial Library.
“It’s a fun way to get kids to read different books and go outside of their favorite genres,” she said. “It went wonderfully. We had a huge response.”
Spatar noted prizes given to the winners in age categories that ranged from small children to teenagers included two bicycles with helmets, a ball pit, stuffed animals and Amazon gift cards.
Mary Cooke, president of the Friends of the Grand Island Memorial Library, said the event, which the group sponsors every year “went very well.” She said the prizes were purchased from the proceeds of the sale of donated books. “Our town is wonderful with book donations. It is the greatest recycling program ever.”