Sara Williams Interview:
This is file 44, cycle 2. Today’s date is Sept. 26, 2016. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Sara Williams. She is going to talk about growing up in Lakeville, Salisbury Central School, the high school, her recollections of the Grove, her work experiences, starting from soup to nuts, and then we will get into her being on the boards of the Northwest Corner Food Pantry and her work for the Economic Development Commission. First we’ll start with the genealogical information,
JM:What is your name?
SW:Sara Christine Williams
SW:Nov. 1, 1990
SW:Sharon Hospital, Sharon, Ct.
JM:Your parents’ names?
SW:Patricia Haynes Williams and Christian Eugene Williams
JM:Do you have siblings?
SW:I do. Andrew Michael Williams is my older brother and Megan Marie Williams is my younger sister.
JM:Now you went to Salisbury Central School and you named three teachers that were your favorites. Could you tell me who you liked best?
SW:I know Mrs. O’Dell was one of them. She was my second grade teacher.
JM:Do you remember why you liked her?
SW:I remember her being very warm and inviting. She also was very encouraging of my reading and writing habits. Mrs. Tapley was my 6th grade and 7th grade English teacher. I really enjoyed her because she was very structured and organized. I still have things that I remember from her English classes. Mr. O’Leary I had for pre- Algebra. He just made math really fun. He had a really good teaching style. Every math period was always fun. He always had a story to tell.
JM: Then you went on to the high school. You had some favorite teachers there.
SW:I believe I said one of my favorite teacher’s was Mrs. Garcia-Tripp who taught Honors Biology and I also had her for my cross country coach. I liked her because she had a very serious, no messing around kind of teaching style, but she was very knowledgeable. I learned a great deal from her in biology class. She encouraged me to go into the sciences for college. Next was Mr. Duvall for English: I
had him for my freshman year English class. He introduced me to a wider range of literature than I had in middle school. I really enjoyed the writing assignments and the projects that he had us do, based on the books we read. Mr. Moran taught landscape design and floral design and good greenhouse management. He definitely cultivated a love for plant life in my time in the Vo-Ag program.
JM:What are some of the events with the Vo-Ag program that you participated in?
SW:One of the main events was the FFA Open House. The Open House was a 3 day festival down in the Vo-Ag program. We would have the elementary school kids come and we would give tours of the Vo-Ag department. We would make home-made milkshakes for them. We would have cheese tasting. We would take them to the barn to pet the animals. We would show them the greenhouse, all the tractors. We would do that during the school day. We also had an evening open house for one of the three days for the adults in the community to come down and see to see what the Vo-Ag program was all about. I really enjoyed that.
There was also the FFA banquet which occurred in early November or late October of each school year. That was a time when the FFA chapter at our high school held an official meeting and also an award ceremony for people involved in the Ag program. Theresa Freund would cater and make the most delicious food you can imagine. It was a time for us to gather together as Vo-Ag students with our families and celebrate the chapter.
JM:Were you in sports?
SW:I was. I did cross country in the fall with Mrs. Garcia-Tripp as my coach. I did swim team in the winter with Jacquie Rice and Rhonda Rinnisland which was my favorite sport of choice during my high school period. I also did track and field in the spring: we had 4 different coaches for that.
JM:You grew up in town so what are some of your special memories of the Grove?
SW:Well I have had many growing moments in my life at the Grove. I did Salisbury Swim Team from the time I was 5 up until I was 18. No only as a swimmer but I also volunteered to help coach the younger swimmers when I was old enough to do that. I did sailing lessons and kayaking lessons at the Grove. I used to swim with my friends in the swim area. A also started doing longer distance swimming on my own.
JM:Were you a life guard?
SW:I indeed was a life guard. I took the life guard certification with Jacquie Rice and Rhonda. I was a certified life guard for 3 years. I worked at the Grove as a life guard for just one summer.
JM:The Bike path?
SW:I actually live right near the Railroad Ramble. I as a kid my mom would take us on the bike path and we would ride our bikes into Salisbury. I have been on hundreds of walks on the bike path to and
from Salisbury. I always see something new when I walk on it even though I have done it hundreds of times. I always notice something new about the nature which I really enjoy.
SW:Burton Brook is another fun memory. Burton Brook is right behind my house. My sister and I would walk up the brook from our house to what would be the top of the street by route 44. We had a fort down by the brook this big pile of rocks that we called Rock Island. We would play down in the brook on Rock Island on hot summer days. We collected rocks down there. It was just a kid’s paradise.
JM:How about Four Brothers’ Pizza?
SW:Oh yes. $ Brothers’ Pizza was located where Mizza’s Pizza is now. 4 Brothers’ had the best pizza when I was young. My family would order pizza from there often. I have the fondest memories of my grandma taking us, my sister and me, to 4 Brothers’ Pizza for lunch if we were off school or if we were “sick”, she would take us for pizza. Their pizza was delicious.
JM:Work experience: tell me about the Summer Youth Program. When were you in it?
SW:I was in the Summer Youth Program when I was the summer when I was 14 and 15. (2004, 2005 ED.)
JM:What did you do?
SW:My first year I was primarily part of the maintenance crew at the Grove.
JM:Your second year?
SW:My second year I was part maintenance at the Grove and I also started doing more of the landscaping and flower bed design and taking care of the flower beds that summer because I was doing the plant science courses at the high school.
JM:What did you like about the program?
SW:Looking back what I liked was it really taught me that you really have to work hard to earn money and that sometimes you have to do things that you don’t want to do, but they have to be done so that other people can enjoy where they are. Doing the maintenance at the park I didn’t enjoy emptying the trash cans all the time, but I know that the people that came to use the beach appreciated not having overflowing trash cans on the beach.
JM:What did you dislike?
SW:If there was one thing that I didn’t like I could have used more direction when I was there. I was given a list of tasks to get done, but not too much guidance. I had to teach myself how to use a lawn
mower, and I had to teach myself how to drive a tractor. I wish I could have had a little more guidance on how to use the equipment properly.
JM:Looking back on it now, was there a value in the program?
SW:Absolutely. I think anybody who has the opportunity to work at ages 14 to 15 part time over the summer. I think that is a great way to get your foot in the door of the working world and just seeing what it is like to be in the working world. I definitely feel that I had a leg up over my peers as I went through high school and into college especially.
JM:You have had many different jobs. You worked at the Sharon Pharmacy, you did work when you were in college, and you worked in the Falls Village at VTI gun parts. You also worked at Sharon Hospital and you did something with Harney Tea. What did you do with Harney Tea?
SW:I worked over in the Millerton store right on Main Street in Millerton. I was a sales associate. I would prepare tea tastings for people, for potential tea sales. I would work the register, stock the shelves with products, wash tea sets and do dishes in the back. I would do inventory of weekly shipments and put away weekly shipments. It was a pretty busy job.
JM:Now you are working at the Scoville Memorial Library. You started work there in February of 2015?
SW:That is correct.
JM:You have many responsibilities; what are some of your responsibilities at the library?
SW:My original set of responsibilities included circulation supervisor so I monitor all patron relations that happen at the circulation desk. I check items in and out. I place holds for patron, I manage all interlibrary loan material for patrons, both within our consortium and state wide. I am also the computer technology go-to person. If there is a computer problem or printer problem or internet problem, I am the person that people some to for help with that. I also am in charge of any of the online library resources, primarily the E-books and E-audio books. I do training sessions to show people how to use those programs. I also do trouble shooting for patrons if they are unsure of what went wrong when using those programs. I do general computer and text lessons for people that don’t have as much experience on the computer. I meet Thursday afternoons to help people learn basic computer functions. I manage the billing of lost items for patrons.
JM:Does that include over dues?
SW:That includes overdue fees.
SW:I do some of the cataloguing; Jocelyn does all the cataloging, but I do fix cataloging errors as I see them. I will re-catalogue items that are no longer new, being in the older stacks collection. I have also become the interim children’s librarian when Miss Mollie is not in. I have played a big role in helping to develop the new summer reading program for children and adults at the library.
JM: that is a lot of responsibilities. You handle it well.
SW:Thank you Jean.
JM:Tell me about the Northwest Corner Pantry. How did you get involved with that?
SW:I was reading a lot of books on poverty and hunger in America at the time. This was shortly after getting out of college. When I was in college I volunteered at a food bank in Burlington, Vermont, distributing meals to the homeless. From there my interest grew in learning more about poverty and hunger in America, realizing that it is a huge problem. I wanted to find out what resources we had in our area for people that don’t have enough food. I found the Corner food Pantry. I started in my weekly grocery haul to get a bag of groceries for the Corner food Pantry. I remember one day in January I was dropping off a bag of food and there were people lined up out the door; they had not eaten breakfast that day and they were just waiting to be fed. I realized that I needed to be more involved that I was just dropping off food. Then I decided to become a volunteer.
JM:What shift do you work, Friday night or Saturday?
SW:Primarily I work Saturday morning. We have changed the hours so instead of 9:00 am to 11:00 am, we are now 9 – 10:30 am.
JM:Why the cut-back?
SW:We changed the hours because the largest influx of people was come between 9 and 10. We also changed our hours to be instead of every other Friday, we are now open every Friday evening from 5 -6:00 pm. We changed that because a lot of people preferred to come on Friday evenings before the weekend as opposed to Saturday morning.
JM:How many volunteers per shift?
SW:There are always 5 volunteers per shift.
JM:When were you asked to be to on the board?
SW:I was asked to be on the board in May of 2016. That was because of the article that I had written for their newsletter on volunteering.
JM:They still do the newsletter?
SW:Yes, they still do the newsletter.
JM:How many are on the board?6.
SW:There are between 12 and 15 people on the board?
JM:When do they meet?
SW:right now the board meetings are the first Monday of the month at 9:00 am at the Corner Pantry which is right behind St. Mary’s Church in Lakeville.
JM:Is there anything that you would like to add to this section of the interview?
SW:The Corner Food Pantry is one of the most valuable organizations we have in this area. Hunger in the Northwest corner is is a lot more prominent that people realize. There are a lot of people who need help. On average per weekend we feed anywhere from 45 to 60 families.
JM:You are also on the Economic Development Committee. What do you do with that?
SW: I take the minutes for the Economic Development Committee; I am not on it myself, but I do attend the meetings.
JM:How many people are on that committee?
SW:There are three people: Ward Belcher, Katherine Kiefer, and Tino Galluzzo.
JM:What does the Economic Development committee do?
SW:The goal of the committee is to try and open up the lines of communication with businesses and the town government in Salisbury to try and promote more revenue and to increase economic growth in the town of Salisbury.
JM;When does that group meet?
SW:They meet the last Tuesday of every month at 6:00 pm in the charlotte Reid Meeting room at the Town Hall.
JM:Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview before we close?
SW:I would like to add that Jean McMillen has done a great job with the oral history project.
JM:Thank you so much.
SW:You are very welcome.