A longtime presence at the Stonington Free Library (SFL), Youth Services Director Maris Frey has announced her plans to retire. Maris has worked at SFL since 2006 and has touched the lives of countless children, teens and families. She will be forever remembered as Mrs. Frey. Her commitment to bringing creative, innovative and fun library services to the youth of Stonington is exemplary.
Maris’ Summer Reading Program (SRP) is beloved and has consistently registered between 300-600+ children and seen 70-80% participation rates. Besides the SRP, she created many other successful reading programs including 50 to Grow On and several Family and Teen Reading Challenges.
During the pandemic, Maris successfully pivoted children’s programs to online platforms. Thousands of children enjoyed her weekly story times on the Library’s YouTube channel and were still able to participate in a digital version of the Summer Reading Program. She transitioned the Library’s reading programs over to the app Beanstack, which is now being used for reading programs for all ages.
Maris led the Children’s Room through its renovations in 2020. The area received new shelving, furniture, technology, paint, an accessible bathroom and elevator access. It is now a brighter, more open, accessible and flexible space for children and families.
Maris is also responsible for the introduction of many new technologies to the Children’s Room over the years. This includes Early Literacy Stations, smart devices, Kindle Fires, Playaway Views, Wii U Gaming and more.
Maris has brought a variety of friends and fun activities to the Library over the years including ducklings, the Little Blue Truck, Elephant & Piggie, Pete the Cat, Fancy Nancy tea parties, children’s operas, gingerbread houses, hula hooping, candy sushi, painting parties, magic shows, and much more! She has also led many outreach initiatives to bring the Library out into the community such as free story times and rotating collections of books for local preschools, after school read-aloud programs, visits to the mobile food pantry and bringing summer reading performers to both Stonington Human Services and the COMO.
Kevin Bowdler, President of the SFL Board of Trustees shared his thoughts on Maris’ retirement, “She took the children’s program to the next level. She always focused on community, and how the library could bring parents and children together. She also worked with the business community to help support the children’s program. Maris adapted spectacularly throughout COVID by creating bedtime book readings on YouTube and we were astounded by how many views they received. We, the Board, and the community are going to miss Maris.”
“Maris is such a treasure. My children began their library journey as little ones being read to by Maris during story time, elementary and middle school students participating in and then working for the Summer Reading Program, and now high school and college students dropping in to say hello during a trip to the Library for a book. Thank you Maris for sharing your love and caring with the community!” from Sage Williams, Stonington parent and member of the SFL Board of Trustees.
Maris shared her parting thoughts saying, “I am excited to embark on a new adventure, but also sad to say goodbye to so many children, families, friends, and coworkers who have touched my heart in so many ways. I have been privileged to have a front row seat to an entire generation of my “little friends” who are now in college and older. I loved every letter that was requested for community service hours, National Honor Society, high school admission, and college scholarships. Even though they missed having calculators, the Teen Volunteers improved their mental math skills in The Store. I was proud of my story time friends learning all the songs and practicing the hand motions at home. Stories are my life work – you have all given me stories to last forever. Thank you for sharing your children with me.”
After retiring on February 27, Maris and her husband plan to move out of state to be closer to their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter.
Please stop by the Library between 10 am and 6 pm from Monday, February 13 through Thursday, February 16 to wish Maris all the best in her next chapter!