COMMUNITY ANGEL: Retired Newmarket teacher delivers books, gains friendship in return | #teacher | #children | #kids

Newmarket Public Library volunteer Elaine Adams goes ‘above and beyond’ delivering books to individuals who aren’t able to get to the library

NewmarketToday continues its annual tradition of marking the giving season by celebrating Newmarket’s Community Angels — the people whose kindness, compassion and community spirit help make our town one of the best to live in the country.

Elaine Adam loves books. She loves reading them and she loves talking about them. When she saw a posting for volunteers with the Newmarket Public Library’s homebound library service, she thought it would be the perfect way to give back.

The Newmarket resident never expected to make a new friend in the process.

“She’s very enthusiastic about it (volunteering). She has a real passion for helping seniors especially and helping people who are in isolation,” said Aislinn Lothian, volunteer services coordinator at the Newmarket Public Library

Adam was assigned to deliver books every six weeks or so to Hazel, who lives in a retirement home. In her role as volunteer, she gathered books from the library and personally delivered them to Hazel.

“The love of books is a great gift to give to somebody. To be able to go into the library and pick up books and take them to someone who loves to read is very fulfilling. ”

She knew which genres and authors Hazel preferred and chose books for her. Every once in a while, said Adam, she would throw in a new author to see if Hazel liked them.

Adam didn’t just deliver the books. She visited with Hazel and got to know her. They discussed books and formed a friendship.  

Shortly after she began volunteering, the pandemic hit and Adam wasn’t able to visit with Hazel anymore.

“I started with a new friendship with this lovely person in a retirement home and all of a sudden with COVID, I couldn’t visit with her anymore to take her books. Everything just shut right down.”

Though the library was closed, Adam decided to continue her friendship with Hazel and the two began to speak on the phone regularly.

“We just sit and chat . . . I love listening to her stories. We’ll talk about the news. I talk a little bit about what’s going on in my life. We’ll just sit and chitchat the way two friends chitchat,” said Adam.  

“She really recognized that there is that sense of isolation, so she really made a point to be friendly with her and talk to her and see how she was doing, which is kind of like above and beyond what the volunteers would normally do,” said Lothian.

Now that the library has resumed the service, Adam has begun delivering books once again. Because of the strict policies of the retirement home, Adam drops the books off outside but isn’t able to visit with Hazel in person.

On several occasions, knowing that Adam was set to arrive, Hazel stood in the foyer so the two could wave at each other.

During one of their phone conversations, Hazel mentioned another woman in the retirement home who was interested in being part of the program. Now Adam delivers to both of them.

“I thought, ‘Well, gee, this is easy. I can easily do two people’ and I can’t wait to meet the second lady but I haven’t been able to get in to see her.” 

Adam said she benefits from volunteering just as much as Hazel. In getting to know Hazel, she has been exposed to new authors she hadn’t heard of and has made a lasting friendship.

“When I deliver the books I like to do more than just hand the book and leave. I like to sit down and have a bit of a visit. I feel that I’ve made a friend and I’d just like to get back to visit her again,” she said.  

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