Everyone is entitled to read a good book. That’s the belief of staff members at the Henry Waldinger Memorial Library, and that’s why they created the homebound delivery service nearly two decades ago.
Volunteers deliver books to Valley Stream residents who can’t make it to the library. Without them, the program would cease to exist. Lena Sau, a reference librarian who oversees the service, said new volunteers are needed to ensure that the needs of homebound residents can be met.
Jean Rechner and George Ellard are the program’s two volunteers, but Rechner, after six years, will soon be leaving. Sau is hoping to fill the void with at least two new helpers.
“I really appreciate the work of Jean and George,” she said. “Without their commitment, there’s no way we run this program.”
Rechner got involved after seeing an announcement in the Herald seeking volunteers. Knowing she had some time to donate, she signed up and has been delivering books ever since. It is a commitment that requires one to two hours every other week.
“People are so grateful to get the books,” she said. “They’re very thankful.”
Ellard has been volunteering for the past 10 years. His wife used to work at the library, and heard about the service that way. He said he plans to continue delivering books as long as he is able.
He primarily delivers to residents on the south side of Valley Stream. Ellard said he is often invited in for tea, but usually declines because he wants to continue his deliveries. “It makes their day,” he said of the residents he brings books to. “Most of them are waiting at their front door for me.”
Ellard recalled a resident he used to deliver to, who lived to 103 years old and loved big books about the military.
Sau, in coordinating the program, puts together bags of books for Ellard and Rechner to deliver. She said some residents request specific titles, while others are just looking for books of a certain genre. Each resident receives two to four books per delivery.
Gertrude Protz is one of the residents who takes advantage of the service. She has been receiving books for more than a year and said she appreciates the program. “It’s wonderful,” she said. “I can’t get out otherwise.”