Inside The Library: Newcomers club provides link to community

There are many books for children about moving – Moving Day by Robert Munsch, Tigger’s Moving Day by Kathleen Zechfeld or Get Moving With Grover by Abbigail Tabby. As parents we often prepare our children for life events, but we perhaps find ourselves less well prepared to meet such challenges.

Moving to a new community can be one of the most difficult life events. There is no question that for most of us leaving the familiar is uncomfortable. The newcomers group that meets at the Picton library branch every Thursday morning at 10 a.m. welcomes all new residents to Prince Edward County with conversation, information and friendship.

Judy Silverthorn and her husband Tim moved to the county from Toronto about a year-and-a half ago. They joined the newcomers as the second generation of newcomers since the group was formed the year before. Judy says of their experience.

“We feel very grateful to have connected with a wonderful group of like-minded people. We have enjoyed outings, dinner and book clubs and a good laugh with our new friends from all over the County.”

The word about the helpful and welcoming nature of the club gets out pretty quickly. Last week Silverthorn tells me that they were joined by a new member who just the week before had moved to the area from Ottawa. It is a drop-in – no registration required, come as often as you want — format. There is time for conversation the first half- hour and then very often a speaker. The speakers are community leaders or representatives from community organizations that members may be interested in using or volunteering with.

This year so far the newcomers have heard from myself about the library and our plans for expansion, Peggy Payne talking about the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and the Festival of Trees, Neil Carbone, the director of the County’s community development and strategic initiatives department , Larry Spencer from the Baxter Arts Centre, and Laura McGugan from Community Care for Seniors. Often members will hear about some issue or organization and ask the library to connect them with a representative. Last year’s group asked to hear more about the Save Picton Bay activities. They had seen the lawn signs and wondered about the issues.

When I observe the easy camaraderie of this group (and the two before it) I cannot help but contrast it with an experience that my husband and I had years ago. We had just moved to a new (unnamed community) and our neighbour across the street made his way over to fill us in.

It would seem that we should not expect the neighbourhood to be too friendly because the experience of the locals was that people moved in from Toronto, stayed but awhile, borrowed things – then moved on with those borrowed items as new acquisitions! We’ve never been inclined to borrow what we need (except from the library, of course!) and as it turns out we did not stay very long before a better job offer lured us away.

The moral of that story is that a public library is a natural spot for people visiting the area or new to the area to seek out. At the library it is important to us to give people a positive impression of this community.

The newcomers club, as Silverthorn says, brings people together who have a story to share and a new community to explore. As the many who have joined this group have found out it is more fun when you have others to share the adventure with.

Upcoming speakers

The newcomers meet every Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Picton Branch Library.

On Thursday, Nov. 29 Lynn Donovan of St. Andrew’s Church will speak about the “Wisdom of the Universe” mural recently installed.

On Thursday, Dec. 6 Krista Richardson will speak about the Prince Edward County Archives.

-Barbara Sweet