Charlie Lincoln stood between his parents as they each grasped the giant, gold scissors. Together, they cut the pink ribbon tied across the entrance to Claire’s Corner to mark the official opening of the new toddler section at the Mattituck-Laurel Library.
Charlie, 4, quickly dove toward the floor and climbed through a tunnel to begin playing in the space dedicated in memory of his sister, Claire Anne, who died suddenly last November at 14 months old.
“From the bottom of our hearts, from our family, we want to thank everyone here,” said Judd Lincoln as he stood alongside his wife Suzanne moments before the ribbon cutting Thursday night. “Without you guys and the community and everybody at our work places, this wouldn’t be possible.”
Between family, friends and co-workers, more than 70 people crammed inside the children’s library room to witness the unveiling of Claire’s Corner, a project that was made possible by through hundreds of donations. A GoFundMe campaign generated more than $11,000 alone toward the project in addition to the donations sent directly to the library.
The new entryway features an arch with the name “Claire’s Corner” and blocks with numbers and letters as the pillars leading into the green carpeted area filled with books and toys.
Library director Jeff Walden said the project had been completed about two weeks earlier and some toddlers were already getting a chance to enjoy it.
“Over the past two weeks since this went in I’ve had the pleasure of being back here and seeing the enjoyment and joy that the children have been getting out of this little corner,” he said. “It has really been a blessing to so many children in our community.”
The idea for Claire’s Corner goes back to last December when co-workers at Riverhead Building Supply, where Mr. Lincoln works, and Hyatt Place East End, where his wife works, brainstormed to find a way to honor Claire.
Library director Jeff Walden got a call from Amanda Goodale of Riverhead Building Supply, who filled him in on what had happened to Claire and explained their plan for a memorial. Their employers, they said, would handle fundraising to cover the costs.
“She called me one afternoon and asked if there was something she could do at the library in memory of Claire and for Judd and Suzanne,” he said.
He met with Karen Letteriello, who heads the youth and parenting services for the library, and began to brainstorm. The plan quickly came together to upgrade the library’s toddler section. At a meeting with library directors, Ms. Goodale and Caryn DeVivo, who also works with Ms. Lincoln and was instrumental in organizing fundraising, suggested calling it “Claire’s Corner.”
“From those first few conservations, something truly special happened,” Mr. Walden said. “A community of people came together to support and finance the unique space in memory of Claire.”
Mr. Walden said additional funds still left over will go toward books, more toys for the space and enhancements in the future. A special toddler program may also be in the works.
“I can’t think of a better tribute to a little girl, who even at 14 months was already into books and learning,” Mr. Lincoln said. “This is an amazing tribute.”
Top photo caption: Suzanne and Judd Lincoln with their son Charlie in front of the new toddler section of the Mattituck-Laurel Library called “Claire’s Corner.” (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)
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