The Bemus Point Heart and Soul project is ready to kick into overdrive.
The project described by Kathleen McCarthy-Wooler, Bemus Point Library manager, as "a community-building project that weaves stories and multimedia materials to present an interpretive picture of the rich history, culture and identity of the Bemus Point community," is one that will grow as local residents become interested and involved enough to add to the project.
"We're doing this project to really bring the community together," said McCarthy-Wooler. "Winter people, summer people, young people, old people - we want everyone's stories. It's a little bit of oral history, but more of a storytelling project, because we want people to talk about memories and experiences, funny, scary, and memorable things that happen in and around Bemus Point."
As the project begins to take flight this summer, organizers are currently looking for people who can contribute to the project with personal stories and with an ability to use audio-visual equipment.
Because the project will incorporate a website with both audio and video, volunteers who have aptitude with electronics are just as important as volunteers who have stories to tell. There will be two "story-gathering" workshops to train volunteers how to shoot video at 7 p.m. Thursday and at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 8.
"We're going to train individuals who want to learn how to do this," McCarthy-Wooler said. "We'll have a format to encourage questions in terms of responsibilities and how to record and we encourage anyone who is interested to attend."
With regards to those who have stories they might like to share, the program is searching for stories from people of all ages.
Questions were raised at a recent kick off meeting regarding what defines Bemus Point and if stories from Midway Park or Long Point State Park were welcome as well. Those spearheading the program decided that stories pertaining to the greater Bemus Point area were okay.
To give an example of a story suitable for the project, Robert Wooler presented one of his favorite memories to the group.
"Most of the year, Bemus was to us the greatest spot on earth, because it was associated with vacations," said Woller. "Kicking back, the lake, rockers at the Lenhart, Jammers games, the family together - all good times. When a place like this lives in your imagination, you get that iconic image of it in your head, so when you see it, your shoulders relax, a smile spreads across your face and you're in a position to live the dream. We would always drive as a family from Boston and when we reached that moment of connection on I-86 just as you're climbing up out of Jamestown and you have your first look at the lake, we knew it was time to celebrate. But one year in 1992 we were not stopping (in Bemus Point). We were driving through to Meadville to go to our son's college graduation. At about midnight, we were blasting along in our Dodge Caravan with everyone asleep except the driver. Part of the special aura of Bemus is that it's at the crossroads of the lake and that it can be easily seen from the Chautauqua Lake bridge. So imagine how perfect it was when we were cruising over the bridge at midnight, the road all to ourselves, and out of the blue, my wife wakes up and looks out the window as we're passing the casino and asks me, 'is this a dream, or is this real?' 'It's both!' I said. So up until we began living here, that was our most special Bemus Point moment."
For more information, call McCarthy-Wooler at the Bemus Point Public Library at 386-2274.