In Maine: IBEW Local 1837
16 Old Winthrop Road
Manchester, ME 04351
Phone: (207) 623-1030, Fax: (207) 621-8384
In New Hampshire:
680 Central Avenue, Suite 201
Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 743-1652, Fax: (603) 743-1654

IBEW 1837 Member Leads Lewiston Toy Library



 

 

October 21, 2008 - In 2005, Lewiston, Maine’s Toy Library was looking for a new home. Founded in the early 1990’s in the basement of a Baptist Church to help provide expensive adaptive toys to disabled children, the all-volunteer group was struggling because of the potential expense of relocating. It started to look as if they might have to close it down altogether.

Enter the Rev. Robert Goulet at the New Life Christian Fellowship and his daughter, IBEW 1837 member and WGME-TV television Producer/Director Angela Saltis. It turns out that Rev. Goulet had some space available at his church that the Toy Library could use. When Angela told her father to let her know if she could do anything to help, he said “Great, how about being President?”

So began Angela’s tenure leading a group of dedicated volunteers in a colorful facility located at 134 College Street in Lewiston. “With the move to our new location came an all-new group of volunteers, which helped open a whole world of new possibilities to do what we wanted,” said Sister Saltis. “The space that we have now is huge compared to what we had before.”

“The mission of the Toy Library today is to promote self-esteem through learning experiences and positive play for children and their families,” Sister Saltis continued. “In a nutshell, we are an indoor playground with books, toys, crafts, tricycles, a basketball hoop and more. The best part is that when it is raining or snowing, kids can still get out all of their energy and run and play.” With two sons of her own, Angela speaks from experience.

The Toy Library has a large indoor sandbox decorated as the Sands of Egypt, and a ball pit with a space theme. They even have their own Moon Bounce!  The entire downstairs play area has a “World Theme” with all of the continents painted on a wall. Recently, the Toy Library has been working to create a real sense of community by painting a frog pond on the wall and encouraging kids to grab a frog with their name on it and put it up there when they arrive to play. They also sing songs where everyone calls out their name.

Almost all of the toys have been donated, and it only costs $2 per day for a child to play there. Memberships at the non-profit Toy Library can be purchased for $50 that let the whole family come play for a year. Still, nobody is ever turned away if they can’t afford to pay.

The Toy Library would like to lend out toys, but they need to build their team of volunteers to make that happen. They do accept some toy donations, but right now the immediate need is for money, so they’ve put together a fundraising committee to try to secure individual or corporate sponsorships. Another IBEW 1837 member, Damon Miller, and his DroneWorks Media Services, donated the design and construction of their spiffy new website, www.toylibrarymaine.com.

“We would love to have readers of The Current come down and see us at the Toy Library,” Sister Saltis continued. “We’d be delighted to have IBEW members and their kids as our guests for a free introductory visit!”

The Toy Library is looking to the future and has recently hired a part-time events coordinator to help expand their offerings. The upcoming events are listed on their website. “We are hoping to find out what the community needs from us between now and the end of the year so that we can tailor what we offer to meet those needs,” said Angela.

Kids having fun at the Toy Library in Lewiston.

With the welcoming attitude and sense of community that Sister Saltis and everyone at the Toy Library share, the future looks bright for this fun-filled endeavor.