After a rainy week, the sun broke through, and over 150 people were present for the dedication of Miss Carolyn's Reading Garden. Heartfelt sentiments were expressed by those who knew Carolyn. Her family, including her two grandchildren, helped us to release our butterflies who quickly became at home among the flowers.
Mayor April Capone Almon read a proclamation for the event; Mrs. Eileen DeMayo, chairperson of the library board of trustees, and Mrs. Betty Perito, president of the Friends of the Library, shared their memories of Miss Carolyn. The Reverend Amy Hayden, associate pastor of the Old Stone Church, asked for the Lord's blessing.
As the sky turned to dusk, we listened to music by the East Haven High School Marching Band. It was a perfect end to a lovely ceremony. Thank you to all who came and made this an occasion to remember.
Here is a transcript of the dedication ceremony:
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I am Karen Jensen, director of the Hagaman Memorial Library, and I am honored to welcome you to our ceremony dedicating this garden to the memory of Carolyn Siedzik, children’s librarian from 1967-1973 and 1981-2008.
How we all miss her! Her laugh, her generosity and her kindness. I give my heartfelt thanks to Carolyn for her service, and for creating a caring and strong community as evidenced by all of you here tonight. Her inspiration was a gift, and this beautiful garden is a tribute to her and all of you who made it possible. A local children’s book author visited this week to donate a copy of her book which she had inscribed for today’s dedication. She could not be here today, but wanted to make sure that we knew how much she appreciated knowing Carolyn. In the short time I have been with the library, I have heard many stories like this because Carolyn helped to influence and enrich the lives of so many.
Miss Carolyn, as we knew her, was an avid gardener and always dreamed of a space on the library grounds where children could sit, surrounded by beautiful flowers, in the cool shade of a tree, and enter into another world through a book. When Carolyn passed away, a fund was started to make this garden possible. Many of you here tonight donated your dollars, quarters, dimes, nickels and even pennies to raise over $3,000 for this timeless memorial.
There are so many people who contributed to this project and deserve thanks. Carolyn’s husband Dick Siedzik, her son Eric Freeman, her brother Frank Andrews and his wife Marla took time to visit me at the library and communicate Carolyn’s preferences and dreams for the garden. Mary Polverari and Barbara Brow, both experienced gardeners, provided lots of technical advice, and together with Gretchen Schrader, gave our grounds the finishing touches this morning. Pat McDonald who serves on our library board was great moral support. And Elaine Sammarco, who worked with Carolyn for so many years also helped to ensure that Carolyn’s voice was heard.
Thank you to Rodney Hayes, master gardener and owner of The Weedin Woman, who planned and installed the garden. She even made a surprise visit this morning to make sure it looked its best for tonight. Because the garden should appeal to children, there are ornamental onion plants with blooms shaped like lollipops, lambs ear, balloon flowers, hens and chicks, black eyed susans, and a dwarf butterfly bush. Lavender and lilac will also attract the butterflies, and the ornamental plum will provide shade. Young visitors to the library this spring planted the seeds for our sunflowers that will grow on the trellis. And all of this is contained in a heart shape with a bench for resting, reflecting, and reading stories.
Thank you to the Friends of the Library for sponsoring tonight’s event. I am also grateful to the town’s parks department and public works for special attention to the grounds, and for the help of all of the library staff, especially Cindy Gwiazda, for her excellent work on publicity and details. Thank you to Sascha Gardiner, children’s librarian, for her vision in knowing that raising butterflies and releasing them today would not only be a community building and bonding experience for all of us but also a beautiful and symbolic piece of today’s ceremony.
I hope you will all enjoy the garden for many years to come. We hope it will become a place of remembrance, reflection and renewal.
Thank you very much."
Mayor April Capone Almon:
"Before I read my proclamation this afternoon, there are a few things I would like to say. The garden is beautiful, as was Miss Carolyn. I was too young for her first round in the children’s library and too old for her second. But I was a part of the story hour group as a school child and loved it so much that when I was in college I decided to come back and read at story hour and volunteer my time and that’s when I met Miss Carolyn. She was a wonderful giving loving woman who loved this library and loved this town. We are so fortunate here today to have her memory with us for as long as this garden will be here, which as far as I’m concerned is as long as this library will be here, and as long as this town will be here. I would also like to thank our library director, Karen Jensen, who never actually had the pleasure of knowing Miss Carolyn but took on this project as if they had been friends for life and I think that speaks well of Karen’s character and I think Miss Carolyn would have really appreciated that. So Karen Jensen certainly deserves a round of applause for her dedication.
Whereas, today we are here for a timeless memorial and to see Miss Carolyn’s dream come true,
Whereas, we honor Miss Carolyn Siedzik, better known as “Miss Carolyn,"
Whereas, Miss Carolyn was the children’s librarian at the Hagaman Memorial Library from 1967-1973 and 1981-2008,
Whereas, Miss Carolyn’s family and her Hagaman family worked together to create this beautiful reading garden in her memory,
Now, therefore, I, Mayor April Capone Almon, on behalf of the Town of East Haven, do hereby proclaim June 12 2009, a day to remember “Miss Carolyn,” Miss Carolyn Siedzik."
Mrs. Eileen DeMayo, chairperson of the library board of trustees, shared her memories of Miss Carolyn:
"Carolyn Andrews Siedzik grew up right there across the street from the library. It is rare that anyone in this day and age has a memorial on the grounds of her workplace and within view of her childhood home. I find it very touching to be here on the library lawn, remembering the young girl who never left home in a sense. It’s a happy memory on a sad occasion in many ways for all of us. But we must not forget the many happy memories stored in the minds of the hundreds of children she knew through the years. We thank her and will remember her always as we see and enjoy her corner."
Mrs. Betty Perito, president of the Friends of the Library also spoke of Miss Carolyn:
"Good evening. I was privileged to meet Carolyn during the second half of her tenure here at the library. I was a teacher at the Overbrook school and we consulted and decided every year as I would bring my class to the library for a field trip. Number one, all you needed was a permission slip and you didn’t need to hire a bus. So every fall and every spring I brought my third grade class up and those who did not have cards promptly got them. The last spring we came up, the children told Carolyn they had made a quilt. And she said “Well, what are you going to do with it?” And they really didn’t know. So she suggested we bring it to the library, which we did and she exhibited it for over a month, which was a wonderful thing to do for the children, for the school system, and for the library. It was just another way that Carolyn worked in her quiet unassuming way to magnetize relationships in our town. We were truly blessed to have had her."
The Reverend Amy Hayden, associate pastor of the Old Stone Church: "Please pray with me. Gracious God, we thank you for this day, we thank you for the sun that has broken through after a cloudy week. We thank you for the gift of community and for all the ways that Miss Carolyn touched the lives of everyone here. Loving God, we ask that you bless this garden, that it might be a sanctuary, that it might be a place where people find peace, and where they also find you. We thank you for Miss Carolyn and her many gifts. We thank you that you led her here and that you gave her gifts of reading to the children. God, we ask for your presence on this day and all days. In Jesus’ name, Amen."
Karen Jensen: "And now I would like to call up everyone with butterflies. Thank you to Elinor Slomba, and all of the members of the pet club at the Village at Mariner’s Point, for bringing their butterflies today. And as we release the butterflies today, please remember Carolyn, how she was involved in our lives, and how she helped us grow and become better people.
This concludes the spoken portion of the program, and I invite you all for refreshments and music by the East Haven High School marching band, led by band director Mike Martino."