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Mendon Senior Center has Friends in high places

By Rod Lee

John Grisham was there; Alice Munro, Barbara Delinsky, Sue Grafton, Anita Shreve, Howard Fast, James Patterson, Tom Clancy, even Better Homes and Gardens with “Home Landscaping: Plants, Projects and Ideas for Your Yard.”

Not in person but definitely in spirit.

On an early-spring weekend dampened by the snowy last vestiges of winter, celebrated authors were in abundance (in name only) on the second floor of the Mendon Senior Center on Providence Street for the Friends of Mendon Elders’ annual Book Fair. So too were patrons of the always popular event, which has gotten so large that it is spread over three days (April 6-8, in this year’s case).

Friends President Sue Carlson was still riding a high when we caught up with her several days after the Book Fair had concluded.

“It went very well, over the top,” Ms. Carlson said. “The most we’ve ever made, almost $1600. The first day, Friday, was our busiest and on Saturday and Sunday all of the books were half price after 12:00 noon.”

Ms. Carlson attributed the success of the event to “dedicated volunteers” including John Chicese, Brenda Rienzo and Lill Richards. The inventory included fiction, nonfiction, science fiction, biography, how-to and home improvement books, children’s books, puzzles, games, CDs, DVDs and previously viewed videos.

“We started off just doing Saturday and it was a lot of work. The first year we organized the books by author and category. The next year we got a better handle on it. We spend two months sorting the books, all of which are donated,” Ms. Carlson said.

“You never know who the author of the day is going to be. A man came in and asked if we had old maps. We had an 1897 Atlas. He said ʽI feel like I’m at Barnes & Noble.’ He couldn’t find what he was looking for. We still have it in a case.”

The Friends apparently know what they are doing. Another example of this is their “Progressive Yard Sale,” which is coming up on June 9th. “We had forty-seven listings for the yard sale just in the town of Mendon last year and we even include people just over the line. This town is so bustling that day,” Ms. Carlson said. “We sell a map at the Senior Center and for two dollars people can purchase a directory with every site listed.

“It’s so much fun!”

Amy Wilson Kent, director of the Mendon Senior Center, said the Friends “are very generous” in their support of the facility. “We couldn’t function nearly as well without them,” Ms. Wilson Kent said.

“One man bought seventy-six books!” she said. “Another person bought twenty puzzles. Sue Carlson is incredible in getting everything organized and putting on the Book Fair.”

Monies raised by the Friends during the course of the year, by way of the Book Fair, the Progressive Yard Sale and an Octoberfest help fund an assortment of needs at the Senior Center, Ms. Wilson Kent said. “Upgrades. Landscaping. Entertainment. Food. Copier supplies. Shampoo for the carpet.

“The Book Fair takes some very strong dedicated volunteers (she cited John Trainor, in addition to those Ms. Carlson had mentioned) and this was by far their best ever,” Ms. Wilson Kent said of the Friends.

“All in all it was a huge success.”

The Book Fair is one example of Mendon springing to life this time of year.

There are others.

The screens of the Mendon Twin Drive-In (“America’s most beloved”) are already ablaze; ahead, on October 13th, is the Drive-In’s beer and wine country-music festival.

Southwick’s Zoo opened in early April (although the sloths and alligator were still in their enclosures then). The zoo’s 13th annual EARTH Bash is scheduled for June 22nd from 5:00 to 11:00 p.m. (21-and-over only) and will feature champagne, beer and wine and a silent and live auction. The Skyfari and Woodland Express will be available for attendees’ enjoyment that evening.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.