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Christenson Village residents got to keep reading during the pandemic, thanks to Gibsons librarians

Assisted living residents also received donation of e-book readers from Telus

When Christenson Village resident Cervia Nutbrown was raising her family, she didn’t have time to read. But now, Nutbrown is one of the Village’s most voracious readers with the help of Gibsons library staff and a donation from Telus.

On March 2, about a dozen Christenson Village residents gathered to thank Gibsons and District Public Library staff and Telus for providing continued access to reading materials over the past few years.

On the first Wednesday of every month, Sue Larose-Cloherty of the Gibsons and District Public Library delivers stacks of books for the seniors to borrow. In 2021 alone, 500 books were borrowed by residents at the Village. After four years of leading the program, which is more than a decade in operation, she’s now passing the reins over to Lise Kreps, the library’s new outreach coordinator. (Fans of Larose-Cloherty need not worry: she’s staying on in her role as the circulation coordinator at the library. “This isn’t goodbye,” she told the group.)

At the thank-you ceremony, Christenson Village staff member Jan Sommerfeld thanked Larose-Cloherty and said, “I just really appreciated all of the efforts that you did, and the personal touches have meant the world to the residents.”

Nutbrown, who relied on Larose-Cloherty to supply her beloved books by Debbie Macomber, spoke fondly of the effect Larose-Cloherty has had.

“I never was much of a reader because I raised a big family. But since Sue’s been here, I’ve been really catching up,” Nutbrown said.

Even when the pandemic temporarily prohibited guests from the Village, Larose-Cloherty continued to drop off books at the doors. The library closed for a few months in 2020, but a donation arrived at the perfect time, Larose-Cloherty told Coast Reporter.

Just before the pandemic began, Manjit Kang, a former Telus executive who now serves as the president of the Sunshine Coast Telus Community Ambassadors, coordinated a donation of $1,500 from Telus so Christenson Village could purchase Kobos. The e-readers help the residents by providing a way to read large print e-books, which are available through the Gibsons library.

“This has been an invaluable resource for the vision-impaired residents here at our Village,” Sommerfeld said in an email. But since the pandemic began, the residents were not able to give their thanks for the donation until Wednesday, when Kang was invited to join them for a belated cheque presentation.

“Everybody here was connected in providing a way… for us to be able to continue reading, especially during the challenging times of COVID,” Sommerfeld said in the presentation thanking Kang and Larose-Cloherty. “So, we just really want to acknowledge you both right now for all your hard work and creative thinking and providing the best possible reading opportunities for all of us here in Christenson Village.”

As for Kreps, who is stepping up to lead the program, she told the seniors, “I’m looking forward to helping you find new and exciting reads and to having lots of great conversations.”