Grace Kennedy United Way Lower Mainland’s Kim Winchell (left) and Gabriel Avelar (right) are hoping they can reduce social isolation in Clayton by partnering with community members to build free little libraries.

United Way to bring little libraries to Clayton

United Way is hoping to partner with residents to host the free gathering spaces for the community

In a community as dense and developed as Clayton, isolation might be one of the last problems that comes to mind.

But for Kim Winchell and Gabriel Avelar, that’s exactly what Clayton needs to solve.

“There was a survey that the City of Surrey had done with Clayton residents that came back with 63 per cent of residents … saying they felt isolated and socially disconnected,” Winchell said. “We were concerned about that.”

Winchell is the director of community impact and investment at United Way Lower Mainland. She first got involved in Clayton during the lead up to United Way’s “Local Love” campaign, which aims to give residents the opportunity to give back to their community.

RELATED: United Way to give $12K to Clayton Heights projects promoting ‘local love’

Local Love, which launched in October, brought up some “interesting conversations” with residents as they worked with United Way, Winchell said. Some of those conversations were about libraries.

“There’s no library in Clayton, and the closest library is down in Cloverdale,” Winchell said. “People don’t necessarily want to leave their community” to access services.

The Clayton Community Centre, expected to be completed by mid-2020, would fill some of that need, as the project includes a library, as well as arts studios and gymnasium. But residents wanted something sooner — to fill both their literary and social needs.

That’s when the idea for free little libraries came in.

“They’re about fostering their surrounding community,” Avelar, assistant director of volunteer mobilization for United Way, said.

“The people that walk by the little library. The neighbours that walk their dog every day. The kids that come from school. The senior that goes to get groceries and walks by the little library. Those are the people that start to surround and care for that bumping place, for that place where they can meet each other,” he continued. “They develop a connection.”

The goal, Winchell and Avelar explained, is to create between four and six little libraries in areas around Clayton to act as small community hubs for local residents. There, they’ll be able to share books and build social bonds.

But in order to make that happen, they need partners in the community.

RELATED: Little library builds community in Cloverdale

Unlike other communities where United Way has developed little library programs, Clayton’s libraries will be hosted on private land, not city land. So they need residents who want to become stewards of a little library, putting the library on their property and partnering with United Way to maintain it.

“The steward keeps the little library going,” Avelar explained. “They make sure there are books, and if they are any challenges … they kind of take ownership.”

United Way would never be far away, he added. “We’ll be there for a phone call,” he said. “They’re not left to their own devices.”

United Way has already put out a call to some Facebook groups in Clayton, asking for people interested in having little libraries on their properties. Some people have already gotten in touch, Winchell said, and United Way is hoping to have enough participants to begin putting in libraries in the new year.

CUPE Local 402, the City of Surrey workers’ union, has already agreed to build the libraries, and Winchell hopes they can get some local kids to decorate them. Then, it’ll be time to fill them with books and hopefully watch the sense of community grow.

“Our motto is start small, and by that we will gain momentum and actually transform communities,” Winchell said. “So we’re really excited by some of the conversations we’ve already had in Clayton.”

“There’s just a spirit of generosity here,” she continued. “We just feel like if we could harness that, we could really get some momentum going.”

People interested in hosting a little library can contact United Way at clayton@uwlm.ca.



grace.kennedy@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Not a joke’: Promoter wants to rocket-launch man the length of White Rock pier

Brooke Colby says he’s building an eight-foot rocket in his backyard

Missing North Delta senior found deceased

88-year-old Jarnial Sanghera had been missing since the morning of Friday, May 15

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Dry-grad cancelled, Elgin Park students make donation to food bank

Students donate $1,800 to food bank after being forced to cancel graduation event

Prospera Credit Union, Westminster Savings lay off over 100 staff following historic merge

2020 merger was largest credit-union merger in Canadian history

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

Boy, 2, left with ‘soft tissue injuries’ after being hit by car in Squamish intersection

Boy was release from hospital, police continue to investigate

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Most Read