Oak Park Celebrates New Lorraine Faber Children’s Play Area at Library
(Cheryl Weiss, Jan.8, 2019)
Oak Park, MI – The Oak Park Library celebrated the unveiling of the new Lorraine Faber Children’s Play Area on Sunday, January 6, 2019. Hundreds of community members gathered to honor the memory of Lorraine Faber, explore the many new toys and activities, and enjoy refreshments together.
Lorraine Faber was a longtime Oak Park resident who spent her life involved in the Oak Park community. Over the years, she worked for the Oak Park School District, the Oak Park Recreation Department, and the Oak Park Jewish Community Center. She loved children, loved her community, and loved helping others. Faber is remembered by many as a kind, caring woman who always made time to listen to others and had a way of connecting with people, putting them at ease, and enjoying time spent with them. When she passed away on June 30, 2018, her family wanted to do something to honor her memory. According to Jennifer Faber, Lorraine’s daughter in law, Lorraine loved reading and loved the library. She visited the library all the time, knew the staff by name, and they made her feel welcome whenever she came in. The Faber family wanted to do something to honor that, to give back in their mother’s memory.
Oak Park Mayor Marian McClellan spoke at the celebration, recalling a conversation she had with Sarah Jones, Director of the Oak Park Library. “Sarah said, ‘Howard walked into the library and made all my dreams come true.’” Howard Faber, Lorraine’s son, and his wife, Jennifer, approached Jones with their interest in making a donation to the library for the children’s area, and asked what she needed. Together, they brainstormed and dreamed about a new children’s area, and a few months later, the dreams became reality.
Where there had once been just a few wooden puzzles, assorted toys, and a couple of puppets, the children’s area is now filled with Melissa and Doug toys, a round table with the alphabet, a wooden dollhouse, a tunnel for babies and toddlers to crawl through, a play city with a post office, school, and more; a huge tabletop track for cars and trucks, lots of new puppets, a new piece of furniture that holds books, toys, and displays the plaque for the Lorraine Faber Children’s Play Area, tablets loaded with educational apps and activities, and so much more. The tablets, however, were a gift from Mayor McClellan. She donates the funds she receives for officiating weddings to the library for a children’s fund. Jones consulted her about using some of the fund to purchase tablets, and McClellan loved the idea.
The celebration began with remarks by Jones, the Faber family, and McClellan. After that, Officer Robert Koch, Community Resource Coordinator for the Oak Park Public Safety Department, delighted the children as he read Where the Wild Things Are to them. When the story ended, the children were encouraged to check out their new area, and they did not need a second invitation. Happy children explored the toy fire truck, zoomed cars along the track, played with puppets, and tried out all the new toys as parents joined them, sometimes playing on the floor with them, sometimes watching from the couches placed around the area. The library was filled with children’s laughter and squeals of joy.
The new area was the reason for the celebration, but Jones prepared more special activities for the community. Children could visit the “Balloon Man,” as they called him, and get animals made in minutes out of balloons for them to take home. A scavenger hunt was a popular activity, with a list of items for kids to find. Kids were also invited to choose a book from a special cart that they could take home and keep. One girl named Jaya was excited to receive a book about measurement using Hershey bars and other candy. She also got a tiny board book for her baby sister, when she is old enough to enjoy it. There were refreshments galore as well; coffee, juice, cookies, and many other desserts for the community to munch on during the afternoon. All refreshments were Kosher, so that everyone in attendance could enjoy them.
The celebration not only brought children and families, however. Many people who knew Lorraine Faber for many years, through places she worked and friends she made, were in attendance as well. As they milled around, they shared stories about Faber with each other, and with her family.
For Howard Faber, Lorraine’s son, and the one who collaborated with Sarah to create this area in her memory, the best part of the day, was “seeing the kids having fun, it’s all for the kids.” His hope is that the Lorraine Faber Children’s Play Area is a place for kids to have fun, and to provide a way to introduce them to books and media at a young age. “The hope is that kids in the community will do more than stay home and watch tv or play video games. They can come to the library, play with others, interact with their parents, engage in creative play, and learn about the world around them in a safe place.”
That is exactly what was happening for Red Roetter and his children. The Oak Park resident brought his two children and said, “I thought it was great; the kids had a wonderful time. This will bring more kids to reading. My kids love coming here!” His son, Shmulie, said, “I like the fire truck best, because it shoots water pellets!” He excitedly demonstrated how the water pellets work with a big grin.
Oak Park resident Kevin Jones also brought his children, Aiden, age 6, and Olivia, age 4. He said, “It was a great experience today, and a great memorial.” Aiden agreed that the day was a good one, especially because of the fire truck, as he played with Shmulie.
At the end of the day, as most of the people left, Jones reflected, “This was truly a spectacular day! It’s really nice to do something like this.” When asked what she hopes will happen next, she said, “I hope the families come back. I can’t wait to see what happens at the library now.”
Whatever happens next, Lorraine Faber will forever be a part of the library she loved, as children play, learn, and grow in the place created in her memory.