April 2, 2013 10:04:11 AM
Carmen K. Sisson - [email protected]
For a half-second Monday night, Edwina Williams was speechless. Known by everyone in Columbus as "Mother Goose," she is usually found in costume (with her goose by her side), reading to children, or singing, playing the piano or performing as one of her other incarnations -- Miz Claus or, most recently, Mrs. Easter Bunny.
But as Williams stood in the foyer of Errolton, an antebellum home in downtown Columbus, she couldn't hide her shock. She had been lured to the home on the pretext of playing and singing "Happy Birthday" for a friend. What she found was a room filled with members of Friends of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library, family members and other supporters, gathered to congratulate her for a library endowment fund that has been founded in her name.
Jo Shumake, president of Friends of the Library, said they hope to raise $100,000 for the Mother Goose endowment fund. The money will be used to expand the children's book collection, increase resources and programs in the early childhood and autism resource centers and offer resources and workshops to help parents understand the importance of reading to their children.
Shumake said Williams, who has been reading to children at the library for nearly three decades, was a natural choice for the honor.
"She's the person that, when kids are really young, draws them into the library and introduces them to reading," Shumake said. "It's a perfect match."
Williams initially became "Mother Goose" when she was in her mid-30s, working as a substitute teacher. She felt like children could relate to the character and were familiar with the rhymes. It gave her a way to foster an early love for reading while also teaching a few life lessons.
"Even when I'm not in costume, I'm still Mother Goose," she said Tuesday morning. "I'm singing to children, trying to incorporate a spirit in them of being proud of who they are -- to have self-esteem. I want to make every child I see feel good about themselves and like themselves."
Friends of the Library began soliciting funds in Williams' name in November, and they have already raised $40,000, Shumake said. The core endowment will not be touched. They will work from funds raised by the interest earned.
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.