Sandy Caldwell wanted to read the Bible to children at her church and she wanted to stop depending on her family members to do things for her.
The problem for the 57-year-old Elkhart resident was that she couldn’t read, she had never learned how.
Caldwell says that her parents meant well when they pulled her out of kindergarten to home school her, but they couldn’t offer her the help she needed.
“They said I was too slow, they didn’t have a program for me to be in,” she said. “Their protection hurt me now more than it would have (to go to school).”
Deep down, she said she always wanted to learn and she knew she could, but she just didn’t know where to start.
She contacted Horizon Education Alliance where she eventually landed with volunteer tutor Beth Suderman, who started bringing Caldwell to the Osolo Branch for weekly lessons.
Starting from the beginning with phonetics and the alphabet, Suderman has Caldwell reading at a beginner level.
“Little by little, we piece it together,” said Suderman.
Last November Caldwell finally signed up for her first library card.
“I had made it, it took me long enough but I had made it,” she said.
The library has been a safe place for her to study and work, she said. The staff have been friendly and encouraged her when she felt stuck. She said she would practice reading to them and some of them would tear up.
“It’s been real good, they cheer me on,” Caldwell said. “Some of them cry.”
Caldwell said that since she only gets out of the house for church and her weekly lessons, she uses her library card to check out books and movies that help her in her reading lessons.
Earlier this year, Caldwell finally read to a Sunday school class at her church, Riverview General Baptist Church, sharing the story of Jesus calming the storm.
Now, the two are working on the Christmas story, Luke 2: 1-20, for the upcoming holiday season.
Caldwell says she still struggles with some of the words but knows that it will come. She also wants people to know that it’s never too late to start learning.
“I don’t care if you’re 80, you can still learn,” she said.
The Helping Hands mats program enters it second phase Saturday with a help session for those working on their mats.
Helping Hands teaches attendees how to crochet plastic bags into mats for the homeless in the Elkhart County area.
Saturday, Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. EPL will have help on hand for any questions for those making mats. Materials to make more plastic yarn will be available but it will not be pre-cut, according to Rachel Rice, outreach coordinator for the library.
The session will be at the downtown library, 300 S. Second St., Elkhart.
The completed mats are to be returned to the library by Dec. 2 for distribution.
The mats are multipurpose and are highly requested by the homeless, according to Debby Applegate, senior administrator with Michiana Five for the Homeless. The group will be helping the library distribute the mats.
The program is made possible with funding from the Friends of Elkhart Public Library.
“They provide several functions, obviously they sleep on them, they are washable, you can rinse them off or wipe them off and they are lightweight,” she said.
The mats provide cushioning against sidewalks and other rough surfaces that homeless often have to sleep on.
The mats require hundreds of plastic bags and can be time consuming to make, but Applegate said that they are so important to those living on the streets.
“It’s something they very definitely need,” she said. “Unfortunately there are still people out on the streets, in the woods and with winter coming up we’re gearing up for our big winter giveaway of supplies.”
The mats are a great way to get rid of a product that often fills up landfills and allows those with a creative side to help out those in need, she said.
“Everybody has tons of these plastic bags, it’s something so simple and it can make a difference between life and death in some case,” Applegate said.
“There are so many people that are talented and crafty, here’s something you can do to help others that need it.”
ELKHART –Stop, drop or roll in to the downtown library for a fire safety program Monday, Oct. 16.
Keeping children and families safe is the first priority for Fire Prevention Week and the Elkhart Fire Department will help families plan during the program.
Starting at 4:30 p.m., downtown, the fire safety course will educate children about what firefighters will wear when they rescue them and what they should do to stay safe and get out if there is a fire.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, the message of this year’s Fire Prevention Week is “Hear a beep where you sleep,” emphasizing the importance of working smoke detectors in bedrooms.
During the program Elkhart firefighters will try to alleviate some of the stress children can feel during a disaster by preparing them for the worst case scenario.
Families will be encouraged to check their smoke detectors and come up with a plan for how to escape their homes in the event of a fire and coming up with a meeting spot.
The NFPA says there should be two escape routes from every room planned.
Come to the program and look out for the big red fire truck, everyone in the family is sure to enjoy and learn something to stay safe.
Retiring is supposed to be easy but signing up for Medicare is often difficult or confusing for many new retirees.
Thankfully, Medicare 101 is here to help.
On Tuesday, Oct. 17 from 1 to 3 p.m., the free educational program will be presented by the office of Rep. Jackie Walorski at the downtown library.
According to Walorski Constituent Liaison Jan Faker, the program will go over the basics of signing up for and coverage for all types of Medicare parts: A, B, C and D.
Faker said that a representative from the Indiana State Health Insurance Program will be on hand as part of the presentation as well.
“I always say that Medicare arrives like a baby: it doesn’t come with a match,” said Faker.
Since it is a purely educational program, Faker said that attendees can ask questions and get help from impartial sources.
“No one is marketing anything, no one is selling anything,” she said.
For more information on Walorski’s sessions visit walorski.house.gov/medicare/.
ELKHART — A paranormal investigation team will share stories of chasing Sasquatch, Dogmen and other unexplained phenomenon during a special program for Halloween.
At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25, members of the BSR Paranormal group, which has Elkhart and Fort Wayne chapters, will speak at the downtown location.
According to group founder Jennifer Jacobs, the group travels around the region exploring reports of hauntings and creatures such as Sasquatch, Mothman and Dogman, among others.
“We investigate all aspects of the paranormal,” she said. “We’re going to discuss the history of Halloween and we’ll go over our experiences and others’ experiences,” said Jacobs
She said she will share tales of time she was attacked by “something” at the Ohio State Reformatory Prison and stories from a ghost hunt at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium.
Following the presentation, the group will answer questions. She said patrons can expect to learn what happens at an investigation; how they do it and that it’s all right if they have a paranormal encounter of their own.
“They are not alone if they have experienced anything,” Jacobs said.