A Children’s Library installed where it all began: The Hayden House
Geneva Hayden is a Syracuse legend who began tutoring local children in the early ’90s by opening up her family home.
Her efforts poured the importance of acquiring literacy skills into local South Siders’ minds and souls. Her living room served as a library where children could check out books and have computer access, as well as receive homework help.
This led to her founding Communities United to Rebuild Neighborhoods (CURN), a block-by-block program that engaged parents and children in neighborhood pride. From there she launched Light A Candle for Literacy, a volunteer-run afterschool and summer literacy program for school-aged youth in Kindergarten through fifth grades. In this program, she also teaches morals such as respect, responsibility, honesty and caring.
Recently, on a typical Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 13, while the sun shone brightly it happened — more light was brought to the South Side, right across from the Community Garden on Midland Avenue.
A van, a couple of cars and six associates from Progressive showed up to bring additional light to the Light a Candle for Literacy Program.
With shovel, concrete and excitement, the staff of Progressive installed a community library filled with an assortment of books to enhance our children’s growth, development and curiosity,
As I watched the joy on Hayden’s face as she hugged a few of the children who regularly attend her afterschool and summer program, I too could feel the compassion pouring out of her heart as she watched the children look through the vast assortment of books.
With the purpose of “Take one, Leave one” amazingly each child choose books which sparked their interest. Right away Hayden knew and applauded the youth with their selections. She also gave a hug, told them how great they were and how much she loved them. No wonder her program has had such an impact. Current program leader Sue Wood shared that she has been working with Hayden for over 20 years: that says something about Hayden’s program.
— Contributed by Lou Carol Franklin, Special to The Stand