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Friends of the North Haven Library President Eileen Fletcher has long appreciated the gifts a library gives its community. (Photo by Elizabeth Reinhart/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Eileen Fletcher may be small in stature, but she has a big impact on the community, especially as president of Friends of the North Haven Library.
In this role for the past six years, staff members at the library recognize her enthusiastic spirit when it comes to drumming up support for its programming and activities.
“She is an abundance of energy. She never stops,” says North Haven Memorial Library Director Pat LaTerza. “She cares about the library and is a great advocate for the library.”
Eileen’s leadership has enabled Friends of the North Haven Library to gather more monetary support from the community than in past years, according to LaTerza.
Ensuring this income stream for the library is a top priority for Eileen, especially during membership drives.
The current membership drive, which is happening during the month of October, means that Eileen and her team of about 14 on the Friends’ board are busy sending letters out to an extensive membership mailing list.
But in Eileen’s efforts to go above and beyond, she continuously seeks to amplify outreach.
“We are trying to reach more people,” Eileen says. “The membership drive is one of our main sources of income.”
Eileen is motivated by the knowledge that these donations can help expand library programming for adults and children.
“The programming is such an important part of friends,” Eileen says. “There are children’s programs, concerts that vary—they are just fantastic. We always get a lot of people for our programming; sometimes our community room is at capacity.”
The library is a special place that has something for everyone, including yoga, according to Eileen.
“In this library, we have come so far in the digital age to appeal to a wide group of people,” says Eileen. “You can go online and reserve your books. If you don’t see a book on the shelf, it’s there for you on the computer.”
In addition to loaning a hard copy of a book at the library, friends volunteers help make them available at the Best Friends Book Store, which is located on the lower level of the library lobby.
“We have many volunteers that support the bookstore with their time and effort,” Eileen says. “They sort the books, price them and put them on the shelves. It’s just fantastic.”
Eileen’s dedication helps the store’s success.
LaTerza remembers a time when an individual approached her in the library after visiting the bookstore.
“We had someone come in and say, ‘I love your greeter. You know, the little old lady in the lobby.’ Eileen just has that spirit. She is always working and always has a smile on her face,” LaTerza says.
Eileen became a volunteer with the library after retiring from a job as a paraprofessional in the Hamden Public Schools.
“She is wonderful,” says LaTerza. “She should be person of the year.”
At 75, Eileen is a bundle of energy with a history of community activity.
When her three children, Michelle, Christopher and Kevin, were in the North Haven School system, Eileen was president of the PTA. She also started a group called the Common Bond, to help parents of children with special needs connect. She is now a member of the Connecticut Chapter of the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association and is active in her church, serving on various committees as needed.
“My volunteer work makes me happy,” Eileen says. “I get excited to get people involved.”
She is also excited to see that her family is actively involved with the community and volunteering their time to special causes. As a family, they participate and volunteer with the Special Olympics on a regular basis.
Eileen also supports her husband Michael’s volunteer efforts with the nonprofit Peter’s Rock Association.
Although her family and community gain great inspiration from her good deeds, Eileen dismisses it, explaining, “It’s just my personality.”
Eileen grew up in the Morris Cove section of New Haven and credits a nearby library for sparking her love of books.
“After school, my friends and I would walk to the library,” Eileen says. “I would like to read mysteries and books on Ireland.”
A good mystery book is something she still enjoys today. She shares her love of reading with two book clubs, hosting regular discussions at her home.
Although she admits, “grass doesn’t grow under my feet,” Eileen makes sure to slow down to spend time with her three grandchildren, Emma, Julia and Owen.
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