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Harrison Library Presenting Programs on Compassion

A $2,500 grant for the Harrison Public Library will bring events pertaining to community, civility and compassion to Harrison.

According to Library Director Galina Chernykh, the library is one of only 30 nationwide and one of only two in New York State to get the “Building Common Ground” grant through the American Library Association, in partnership with the Fetzer Institute. Since the money was only available to a small number of libraries, Chernykh said, the process of obtaining the grant was “intense.”

“We had to determine the program dates, the speakers and provide confirmation that we had it all arranged,” Chernyk said. “That idea seemed totally backwards, since we didn’t even know if we were going to get the grant. They wanted to see that the library would be really committed to the program.”

Two events are in place right now. Rabbi Barry Kenter, president of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Understanding, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 14, about compassion and the search for common understanding through world religions. Sr. Haifa Bint-Kadi, a Muslim chaplain at Manhattanville College, will hold a screening and discussion on how to move past tolerance and into community in a diverse society at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 21.

“I was looking around for interested speakers and asked if they’d be willing to come speak,” Chernykh said. “They have done a lot of similar programs and have discovered so much.”

The backdrop for both events is compassion. Chernykh said that compassion can be misrepresented. More than just being nice to people, she said, it’s also about how people raise their children and treat the aging population. Chernykh gave an example she read in an article about a mother who was texting when she picked up her son from a play date.

“I see something like this as a lack of compassion,” Chernykh said. “Maybe if we talk about it, it can help individuals improve their relationships and understanding of the community.”

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