The Village of Rye Brook and Cerebral Palsy of Westchester dedicate a Little Free Library at Pine Ridge Park
RYE BROOK, NY—Yesterday, May 18, 2021 at 1:00pm, The Village of Rye Brook and The BRIDGE School at Cerebral Palsy Center of Westchester (CPW) hosted the grand opening of a Little Free Library at Pine Ridge Park in Rye Brook, NY. Children’s book author Leslie Kimmelman joined Rye Brook Mayor Paul Rosenberg; Rye Brook Administrator Chris Bradbury; Westchester County Legislator Nancy Barr; NYS Senator Shelley Mayer; Joan Grangenois-Thomas, District Director for US Congressman Mondaire Jones; CPW Executive Director Linda Kuck; Project Mentors Maria Savino and Jay Singer; BRIDGE School Principal Barry Wasser; and students, park staff, friends, and families, for the celebration on a beautiful sunny day. CPW’s adaptive Scouts opened the ceremony with the Pledge of Allegiance. Ollie Lowery, CPW participant and resident poet, recited an original poem, and children’s book author Leslie Kimmelman read from one of her books, emphasizing her love of stories, and the value and magic of reading. By the end of the ceremony, the new library was filled with books that had been individually selected by the BRIDGE School students, as well as local elected officials and guests who attended, ready to be shared by visitors of the park and the Rye Brook community.
Left photo: Author Leslie Kimmelman with Rye Brook Administrator Chris Bradbury. Center: Pine Ridge Park’s newest addition. Right: Leah, a student at CPW’s BRIDGE School, describing the book that she chose to donate to the Little Free Library. Photos by Angela Licht
Rye Brook Mayor Paul Rosenberg remarked, “We believe that putting a Little Free Library near the playground in this park is ideal, as parents can read a book while the children are playing, kids can read a book to relax, and/or parents can read with their kids in the park. It will be available to anyone of all ages who visits this active park.”
For several years, the Village has had a goal of putting a Little Free Library in this park. So, when CPW Social Worker Maria Savino approached Rye Brook’s Administrator Chris Bradbury about a high-school student at CPW’s BRIDGE School wanting to build a Little Free Library as part of his Senior Project back in 2020, the village became excited about this partnership. The student, Elijah Roberts, now a graduate of The BRIDGE School and currently attending a college program, hoped the library would be a place where children and adults could read and borrow books, with the goal of encouraging community members to share their love of reading with one another.
CPW’s BRIDGE School Principal Barry Wasser commented, “As a division of CPW, the BRIDGE School at Rye Brook serves a very special population of children, however, in many ways we are just like any other school, especially when it comes to our love for reading.”
To jump-start the project, The Mid Westchester Elks Lodge #535, sponsor of CPW’s Adaptive Boy Scout Troop 535 which Elijah was a member of for many years, donated a seed-grant towards his idea. Additional funds were raised by local residents through a Go-Fund-Me. After a few COVID-related delays, and with the guidance of BRIDGE School Social Worker Maria Savino, help from Elijah’s mentor and Scout Leader Jay Singer of The Mid Westchester Elks, and the support of the Village of Rye Brook, the library was finally installed in Pine Ridge Park!
For those not familiar with the program, Little Free Library is a nonprofit agency that “builds community, inspires readers, and expands book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led little libraries. Through Little Free Library book exchanges, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.” It is a fantastic, free, book exchange program.
Front row (L-R): Tom McCandless; Kathleen McCandless; Poet Ollie Lowery; Puppeteer Claudia Tompkins with puppet Mark Riley. Back row (L-R): Rye Brook’s Parks and Rec grounds team Pete DeVito, Waz Colantuono, Joey-Chris Vasile, Paul Vinci, Zach Warren; Rye Brook Administrator Christopher Bradbury; Superintendent of Public Works Michal Nowak; Joan Grangenois-Thomas, District Director for US Congressman Mondaire Jones; CPW Social Worker Maria Savino; CPW Executive Director Linda Kuck; Project Mentor Jay Singer; Tom Geary; Author Leslie Kimmelman; Village of Rye Brook Trustee David Heiser; Parks and Recreation Superintendent Robert Bertolacci; County Legislator Nancy Barr; Scout Leader Steve Owen; Mayor of Rye Brook Paul Rosenberg; NYS Senator Shelley Mayer; CPW BRIDGE School Principal Barry Wasser; CPW Vocational Coordinator Felice Gritz. Photo by Angela Licht.
IT DOES TAKE A VILLAGE TO BRING A LITTLE FREE LIBRARY TO A PARK! Read on for more about the organizational partners who came together to bring this project to fruition.
Pine Ridge Park, located off Mohegan Lane, is a Rye Brook public park that includes two Little League fields, four tennis courts, two and a half basketball courts and a playground. Rye Brook Parks and Recreation operates many programs and special events at the park throughout the year.
Leslie Kimmelman lives in Westchester and is the author of well over 50 books for children, both fiction and nonfiction. She was also a children’s book editor and worked for the last 24 years as an editor and writer at Sesame Workshop. “I still read everything I can get my hands on,” she states, “and write stories and poems that, I hope, help introduce children to the magic of books.”
The Mid-Westchester Elks Lodge #535 was organized in 2009 and meets at the American Legion Post No. 1097 in Armonk, NY. For over a decade, Lodge #535 has adopted CPW as their major community project. This includes playing a formative and leadership role in CPW’s Adaptive Scouts: Cub Scout Pack 535 and Girl Scout Troop 1902. Since 1966, the NYS Elks have embraced the Cerebral Palsy Associations of NYS as their Major Project. Throughout the world, Elks’ lodges promote neighbors coming together, families sharing meals, and helping children grow.
The BRIDGE School at Rye Brook, a division of Cerebral Palsy of Westchester, is a special education center serving students with multiple disabilities. It offers a comprehensive program that connects families, students, and educational professionals to help each student reach their academic potential and discover what the possibilities are for them beyond the school setting.
Cerebral Palsy of Westchester. With a main campus located in Rye Brook and now in its 72nd year, CPW’s mission is to advance the independence, productivity, and full citizenship of people with all developmental disabilities including autism, neurological impairments, intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy. Through a comprehensive network of educational programs, day services, residential sites, therapeutic services, employment training, recreation programs and advocacy, the agency helps thousands of children and adults in Westchester and Fairfield Counties live more productive and satisfying lives. The organization’s motto is: Realizing Tomorrow’s Potential . . . Today!
Photos below by Angela Licht
Rye Brook Village Administrator Chris Bradbury as MC for the ceremony at Pine Ridge Park, standing with Mayor Paul Rosenberg.
Left Photo: The Pledge; Right Photo: CPW Executive Director Linda Kuck with Mayor Paul Rosenberg
Students from CPW’s BRIDGE School with their book selections: Left – Noor and Aaron; Right – Genesis.
Left Photo: Poet Ollie Lowery (L) reading her poem with support from Claudia Tompkins and Felice Gritz. Right Photo: Mayor Paul Rosenberg.
Photos by Angela Licht
Left: Joan Grangenois-Thomas, District Director for US Congressman Mondaire Jones; Right: NYS Senator Shelley Mayer
Mayor Paul Rosenberg with County Legislator Nancy Barr
Left photo: Rye Brook’s Little Free Library Installation Team
Right photo: BRIDGE School student Elijah Roberts (in blue) at Pine Ridge Park last year with his project team: (L-R) Village of Rye Brook General Foreman Paul Vinci, Parks and Recreation Superintendent Robert Bertolacci, Scout Master Jay Singer of the Mid-Westchester Elks, and Rye Brook Administrator Christopher Bradbury.
For high resolution photos and more information, contact Tia Levinson, CPW’s Director of Development and Public Relations, at 914-937-3800 ext. 353 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.