Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Brighton Place in Tonawanda

Growing up, I lived around the block from the Brighton Library. It was a place we visited on a weekly basis. My brothers and I attended many of the storytimes, and it’s where I got certified to be a babysitter. I even, though I hate to admit it, was tutored in English there when I was younger. So, in 2005, when funding cuts forced the closing of The Brighton Library, I was sad to see the place where I had learned so much, unavailable for the next generation of kids in my neighborhood.

Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one who was sad to see it close. A group of Town residents and supporters of the library fought to reopen it, and in early 2006 it was opened under the name Brighton Place. Fundraising events were held, and it was clear the Town of Tonawanda didn’t want to see the space go unused. Initial monies raised supported the purchase of shelves, furniture and books to get it going.

When I spoke with Brighton Place’s Director, Cassie Rydzewski she said that, “When the Brighton Library was closed people supported the idea of reopening because the other libraries in the area are a distance away. The thought was to re-open as not just a library, but a real community resource center focused on quality of life for those in the Town.”

Brighton Place is not a part of the public library system and they receive no funding from the Town. They solely rely on the generosity of the community through fundraising events, donations and small grants. They have an event coming up on May 10th called, "Cooks and Books" that offers guests the chance to talk with locally renowned chefs and sample their dishes along with appetizers, wine tastings and more. If you are interested in purchasing tickets to the event, please call them at 332-4375.

They do charge an incredibly low membership fee; if you are a Town resident you pay a one time fee of just $5.00. For people living outside of the Town the annual membership fees range from $15 (students/seniors) to $35 (family). Individuals are $20.00 and they have an option for businesses at $100 (can get up to 6 cards). The membership includes the borrowing of books and DVD's, the use of their computers and discounts on charged programs. Brighton Place also offers a variety of free programs, workshops and seminars throughout the year that are available to anyone.

Currently, there are only two paid part-time staff members; the librarian and Director Cassie. Brighton Place is mostly run by volunteers who give so much of their time to keep this asset to our community running.

If I could describe the atmosphere at Brighton Place in a few words, they would be "family focused and community feel". Everyone involved with Brighton Place is passionate and driven to provide their members with the very best and newest materials and programs.

In addition to being a library, they are extremely innovative and bring in wonderful seminars, workshops and activities for everyone in the family. They have groups that meet regularly (knitting club, book clubs, craft club), and they have brought in presenters from The Buffalo Museum of Science, The Clean Air Coalition, local artists, historians and magicians, to name a few! They have also partnered with neighbor Kenmore East, and host a class two days a week, teaching life skills, resume building and job experience.

I have added Brighton Place to my "12 Missions in '12" campaign and will be supporting them by purchasing items and getting donations for items from their wishlist. I'm excited to purchase books and know they will be read by so many who share a passion for learning as much as I do!

"If someone hasn't checked us out yet and lives in the area, they NEED TO! Just our ambiance is special, we have a great sense of community and it is evident in all we do. We are here because of our love for this community and our strong desire to serve those around us through enhanced educational and life-enriching materials and programs." Cassie told me.

I couldn't have said it better myself!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Krystal I have been involved with Brighton Place since the beginning.Just one example for you in 08 I lost my job of 9 years thank God Lacey the libraian was there to help me with my resume and job searching on the internet.She actually was the first to tell me about Ub hiring and I went there and got a job Im still at.She also helped my hubby with his resume.My grandkids have grown up going there and now the youngest whos 2 can start too. Thanks again for the great story.Nancy Balzer