By Terrill ScottSupervisor, Agassiz Library
Library buildings are wonderful, but there are times I have looked at pictures of places like Hawaii where there are shelves of books on sandy beaches. I sigh and wish that we could have some of that too. But then, its summer and I remember Storytime in the Park. Every week we get to sit in the great outdoors with books in our hand and share a snack and playtime with friends old and new. It ‘s not quite a library in the tropics, but I happen to think it’s the next best thing.
We start each event by talking about how Story Time in the Park, does not happen by magic. It happens because many people, businesses and organizations believe in it, and want it to exist. So much so, that they commit to it by contributing some cash, whatever they are able, and we the committee put it all together and make the magic happen.
This summer has been exceptional as Storytime in the Park has made its comeback to a once a week event for the months of July and August. The first week there were 329 humans, large and small, young and old, present. Seeing that, I feel its time to talk about how this all happens. One of the reasons, was the availability of some starter funding this year. As well, there was unconditional support from local governments and local non-profit committees.
The bonus however, and maybe the thing that allowed Storytime in the Park to be a weekly event, is the presence of businesses as financial contributors. Fortis has been a supporter for two previous years, and The Agassiz Harrison Observer has long been our media sponsor and best cheerleader.
This year however, one can add to this list by looking up and down the local streets to see how Subway, The Dollar Store, Super Valu, Agassiz – Harrison Printers, Agassiz Produce, The Deli, Petro’s Canadian Pizza and others have done their part with help and discounts.
Tourism Harrison showed its support early in the year, as Storytime in the Park does its time in Harrison Hot Springs in August.
Harrison Agassiz Chamber of Commerce offered their fundraising support by raising money at their Excellence Awards night and donating it to Story time in the Park.
A newcomer to the business funding family is Subway, but more about that later.
Here is the untold story of how Storytime in the Park happens … the one that isn’t published in a pretty book.
When you look at the cost of buying a new, good quality book, supplying food and entertainment or activities for over 200 people weekly, you don’t have to be a math-wiz to figure out what is needed.
This summer, it was remarkable to answer phone calls and emails from organizations and emails from agencies offering funds. You can see these literacy & community minded folks on the V.I.P. page of the website, storytimeinthepark.wix.com/storytime#!blank/c16s4.
If you are wondering why so many businesses have put their money out for this, here is the what actually happens beyond the books, puppets and pizza at Story time in the Park. There is no admission – everyone is welcome, anyone can attend; it takes place in a community park – no need to go where some feel uncomfortable; there is food – food and anything go together to make what’s happening even more valuable; there is fun – fun and laughter help people break that barriers so that children find each other to play and the adults around them meet on common ground.
And finally there are books – studies have proven that reading early helps with successes later in life, but also book ownership itself has a huge impact on educational achievement for children. Reading is education, – is health – is the power to make ones own great future in the world.
That, my friends, is what is really happening at Storytime in the Park. It is businesses recognizing a need that allows them to help the children and families in their community make a better life, one book at a time.
Michelle Mailhot, parent, local resident and owner of Agassiz and Popkum Subway in Agassiz, and a member of the Chamber says it best: “I have attended this program for years with my children and it has been enjoyable and memorable for my family. Storytime is so valuable to the community because it encourages child and family development through literacy, with fun. As a business owner too, I am happy to financially support Storytime and see this continue.”
So this tale of fun and sneaky literacy continues and summer has many good Wednesdays left to enjoy Storytime in the Park. July has been exceptional for weather and good times in Agassiz, and so we head to the plaza in Harrison Hot Springs for August. With the other books and activities planned, Michelle, her family and business will be there, as always. Join them at Subway Day on Aug. 10 as we read “The Sandwhich Thief” and enjoy some yummy food and special surprise interactive fun. See you out there!