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Past Books: South County Excessive Library Serves as Hub for Group Outreach

On any given day within the South County Excessive Library in Lorton, college students are doing excess of testing books….

By Staff , in Senior Living , at April 25, 2022

On any given day within the South County Excessive Library in Lorton, college students are doing excess of testing books.

College students use the library as a gathering spot to knit winter hats for the homeless, make pet blankets for animal shelters underneath the steering of head librarian Emily Robust and switch to co-librarian Ronielle Romney as sponsor of the Elder Outreach Membership, a gaggle of roughly 90 college students who shaped in the course of the pandemic to ship letters to senior residents, as a part of a push to fight loneliness.

Going past books is a typical purpose for Fairfax County Public Faculty librarians, Romney says. FCPS celebrates Faculty Library Month in April.


Members of South County High's Elder Outreach Club visit with local seniors they have corresponded with during the pandemic.
Members of South County Excessive’s Elder Outreach Membership go to with native seniors they’ve corresponded with in the course of the pandemic.

“All of us discuss greatest serve our populations, make libraries heat and welcoming locations, be it by means of design or having a maker house – the place college students can learn to use a stitching machine or one thing like that, or by means of offering a house for college students to assemble as they provide again to their group,” Romney stated.

Romney, who labored as an English instructor at South County Excessive for 15 years earlier than transferring to the library, picked up sponsorship of the Elder Outreach Membership from a previous college librarian, Lisa Muir, who transferred to Woodson Excessive Faculty in Fairfax. She credit scholar leaders for getting the undertaking off the bottom, sending greater than 500 letters to seniors and pushing to broaden their marketing campaign to attach with seniors to neighboring colleges.

“It was type of a coincidence that it’s linked to the library, a scholar had the concept, was captivated with it and it grew from there, precisely the way you need golf equipment to be,” Romney stated.

The 90 Elder Outreach Membership members have a month-to-month theme to assist them discover a frequent thread for his or her letters – be it Halloween, Winter, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day – and have a 3 week window during which to drop off letters certain for senior residents in native assisted dwelling amenities.


South County High students prepare bags of St. Patrick's Day letters to deliver to seniors at local assisted living facilities.
South County Excessive college students put together baggage of St. Patrick’s Day letters to ship to seniors at native assisted dwelling amenities.

“Particularly in the course of the pandemic, the senior inhabitants in assisted dwelling amenities was actually combating isolation and being cut-off from the world,” Romney stated. “It was our purpose to do one thing to assist combat that sense of isolation. As issues enhance with Covid-19, we’d wish to get extra membership members into assisted dwelling amenities for one-on-one conversations, to share music, play board video games and extra.”

John Claude Shaffer, a junior who’s the founding father of the Elder Outreach Membership, says he was impressed by the concept South County Excessive is true throughout the road from Concord at Spring Hill senior dwelling heart.

“I assumed what an important alternative to have folks in our faculty group write to folks immediately throughout the road,” Shaffer stated. “We needed to make sure extra elders within the proximity of our faculty really feel love and know they’re supported by individuals who stay round them.”

Shaffer reached out to his mates, who then reached out to their mates, and ultimately the group grew to incorporate college students at Bishop Ireton Catholic Excessive Faculty as properly. Lately, Shaffer, a pianist, was in a position to go to the middle in-person to play piano for residents and meet among the folks he had been corresponding with in particular person.

“I performed Chaupin, Etude #3 — they liked it a lot, on the finish they yelled Encore, Encore!,” Shaffer stated. “It was a tremendous expertise.”

The membership, which began in the course of the pandemic, attracted numerous curiosity from college students who had been nonetheless studying just about, serving to them empathize with the idea of isolation, librarian Romney stated.

“It was straightforward for folks to know how worthwhile it might be, as a result of so many individuals needed to alter their lives, and expertise loneliness, as a way to keep protected,” Romney stated.

The South County Excessive Library has served as a automobile for service tasks of all types, precisely as Romney says a college library ought to. Other than helping college students who knit hats for the homeless or make blankets for shelter animals, Romney says her duties can embody serving to proofread scholar work, instructing lessons on analysis for historical past tasks, enabling college students to print out paperwork and find different companies within the constructing.


A collection of hats for the homeless and pet blankets for animals shelters made by South County High students in their library.
A set of hats for the homeless and pet blankets for animals shelters made by South County Excessive college students of their library.

“One of many issues I really like about being a librarian, after transitioning from working as a classroom instructor with sometimes 120 college students, is that now each scholar is mine,” Romney stated. “I get to take possession for having a relationship with each scholar within the college. We librarians like the concept of serving to college students not simply discover one thing to learn, however serious about what else they might want as properly.”

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