Letter to the editor: Shoreham nurturing younger generation

A few weeks ago, I happened to be listening in on a Shoreham selectboard meeting while Abby Adams, our town librarian, was presenting her proposed budget for next year and summarizing the library’s accomplishments for the year. I was so amazed. Despite the fact the library building had been closed to the public since March, the services that the library provided to our community were exemplary.
Abby’s presentation got me thinking about the critical role that our community serves for the children living in Shoreham. On several occasions, I have heard members of the Addison Central School District (ACSD) board say that we will magically form new communities resulting from each of the elementary schools that are left standing after consolidation. When I hear statements like this, it makes me wonder if we have the same definition of what community is. Do those who make these statements really understand how important the role that our rural communities, such as Shoreham, have on the children living in our rural areas, especially those children who are the most vulnerable?
Community does not consist of just the parents who have children enrolled in our school, but it also includes the vast number of town residents both young and older, who donate their time, friendship, and financial support. This has been especially evident during the past year as we struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic. We often hear the statement that “it takes a village” to raise children these days and in the 12 years that I have made Shoreham my home, I have witnessed firsthand how Shoreham has taken this responsibility to heart.
Here are just a few recent examples:
•  Even with the library building closed to the public, the dedicated staff, under the leadership of our librarian, Abby Adams, have worked tirelessly to ensure that the children in the community received the support they needed. Whether it was making sure books, puzzles and DVDs were still easily available, helping to deliver schoolwork, creating and delivering activity bags, coming up with creative ways to engage children and helping to deliver meals over the summer, or even arranging for a drive through Santa at Christmas time, our library staff and volunteers are very much an important part of our community. I think I can speak for many in our town who would agree that the construction dollars paid out several years ago to expand our library and the dollars we spend each year to keep it open was and is money well spent. Our library plays a critical role for our rural community and the children living here.
•  Julie Ortuno and Kathleen Brisson, our town clerk and treasurer, took on the effort to do something special for the kids because the Shoreham Annual Trunk-or-Treat was cancelled due to COVID. Community members made donations of cash and candy and Julie assembled 100 goodie bags with school supplies and treats for all of the Shoreham Elementary School students.
•  Irene Cadoret, our school’s administrative assistant, took on the effort to ensure that 32 students (nearly one-third of our school population of 99 for this year) were not forgotten during the holidays. In cooperation with the Town Office, she created mittens for each student listing clothing and shoe sizes, as well as a list of wish items. All the mittens were “adopted” by community members and were returned with large boxes and bags of gifts, clothing, food and pledges to provide holiday meals. Through her efforts, she was able rally strong community, even in a pandemic, to make sure that our neighbors and children have a bright holiday with food and gifts. She also received over $2,000 in cash donations to help towards future endeavors.
These few examples exemplify the power of a strong integrated school and town community, where those who know the need can reach out to a strong town community that generously steps up to the challenge. For my part, the definition of community goes far beyond the families whose children are currently enrolled in the school. It also includes young and old alike who realize the importance of looking out for the children in our community.
I am extremely proud of my rural community! It is for this reason and many others that I have decided to run for the open Shoreham ACSD board position.
Barbara J. Wilson

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