Spanish-English Wellness Club comes to PPL

Native Spanish speakers and those interested in honing their Spanish speaking skills can now come together in PPL’s two newest clubs: Bienestar en casa and Well-being at Town.

Beginning in May, each group is for people who want to interact with Spanish speakers and learn the Spanish language by talking about wellness topics. 

Psychologist Mildred Elizabeth Pedraza, the creator and leader of the clubs, said people do not need to speak Spanish to participate. They just need a genuine interest in the language and wellness topics. It is also a good way to do mental exercises by improving or learning a new language spoken by many people in this hemisphere, she added.

The first Bienestar en Casa Club meets Sunday, May 5. The subject:  Habilidades Interpersonales en el lugar de trabajo… el CI no es suficiente / People Skills in the Workplace… IQ is not enough

The first Well-being at Town Club will meet Sunday May 19. The Subject: The four agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and Happiness / Los cuatro acuerdos por Don Miguel Ruiz y la Felicidad

Both clubs will meet at 2:30PM in the PPL Mezzanine Classroom.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Mildred is a native Spanish speaker with English as a second language. She moved from Puerto Rico to Potsdam with her husband and daughter in 2017 with the help of their family due to Hurricane Maria.

“On the Island we survived without water, electricity and basic services for a month, due to the destruction caused to the Island by this natural event,” she said. “We arrived in this county without knowing how long and we began to receive English classes in Canton and then in Potsdam, which helped me improve my English skills.

“My husband was lucky and blessed to start working in 2018 at Clarkson University as a handyman,” Mildred said. “Now my daughter Andrea speaks good English and she is part of the Honor Society, lacrosse team, art club, music club, and she plays electric guitar, she loves the school.. Thank God!”

During the pandemic Mildred said she dedicated myself to taking care of children. But in 2022 -2023 she moved to Manhattan where she worked at Manhattan Psychiatric Center in the position of Associate Psychologist – Spanish Language, where she cared for all English and Spanish speaking patients in her unit.

“It was an extraordinary experience and challenge, however, we miss the human warmth of the upstate,” Mildred said. “In the past in Puerto Rico I worked eight years in the insurance industry, one year in a Psychiatric Hospital and four years in the Department of the Family (Social Services).”

Now back in Potsdam, she said she wants to contribute to the community. She created Bienestar en casa and Well-being at Town to be developed to have multiple purposes, including contributing to the Hispanic/Latino community by creating a safe and accessible space that is of light and hope for personal development and helping interested individuals improve their Spanish language skills.

“Additionally, as a thank you, I would like to reciprocate the kindness received from sensitive people who served us in this moment of vulnerability for our family in and after 2017,” she said. “In this way I wish to contribute free of charge to those in need, in an inclusive environment where everyone is welcome.”

Moreover, this group is an invitation to develop social connections with Spanish-speaking people who need to belong in a warm and uplifting place, she said.

Main benefits of the clubs include:

1. Improve Spanish language skills

2. Develop social connections

3. Access information on wellness topics

Modality: Group

1. Read/write English/Spanish worksheets 

2. Watch/listen to videos

3. Develop conversations 

4. Crafts

5. Community Activities

New Monthly Energy Workshop comes to PPL

The Month of May will bring the second in what has become a monthly energy workshop series brought to the community by Northern Power & Light and Cornell Cooperative Extension’s North Country Clean Energy Hub.

Held in the library’s Main Reading Room, the public space was chosen to attract walk-ins and engage a broader audience.

Louise Jensen, Northern Power and Light’s community energy advocate said the objective for these workshops was to engage a broad spectrum of the public in a journey toward energy savings through energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“This will be achieved through individual ‘hands-on’, practical one-hour workshops,” she wrote. “Each workshop will include a brief presentation, Q&A, and one-on-one help from CCE Energy Hub staff, Navigators, and/or NPL staff.”

The workshops started in April with a focus on understanding your energy bill, a workshop that will be revisited throughout the series.

The workshops are an hour each and are composed of five minutes for coffee & intros, 15 minutes for presentation, 20 minutes for Q&A, and 20 minutes for individual one-on-one activities and guidance. For example, last month’s Reading Your Energy Bill included coffee and welcome with introductions, 15-minute sharing of a sample energy bill, 15 to 20 minutes of questions from participants, and 20 minutes available for participants to sit down with the hand-out guide and an Energy Navigator or staff person to walk through their bill one-on-one.

To add a ‘learning’ moment, coffee is brewed on site and an energy meter is used to see how high the draw is for a coffee maker!

The next Energy Workshop, Energy Assessment, will take place 1PM, Saturday, May 4, and will build on your ability to read your energy bills, look at how to walk through your homes and figure out where the energy goes. Participants will receive a worksheet to help them conduct their own assessment at home or sign up for a home visit. If you missed the last workshop, please feel free to bring your energy bills and someone will help you to understand it better and save!

PPL teams up with Institute in Autism Awareness Initiative  

 April is Autism Awareness Month and in recognition a new partnership between the Potsdam Public Library and the Institute for Learning Centered Education is aimed at providing tools to the community in addressing the needs of children with autism.

The partnership, a result of a March program at the library led by Institute for Learning Centered Education Director Don E. Mesibov, where he read from his new book, Mesibov, Schopler, and TEACCH: Changing the World for Parents, and People with Autism; From Refrigerator Mothers to Treating Parents as Partners. 

“The challenge is that there are people on school staff and community organizations who interact daily with people with autism and yet have not the slightest bit of training,” Mr. Mesibov said. “Our Institute has developed a two hour ‘Discussion Session’ that can acquaint people with basic understandings about autism that can be the difference between interacting successfully with people with autism or creating distrust at the first meeting.”

Potsdam Public Library Program Coordinator William T. Eckert said he was impressed with the work Mr. Mesibov was doing and offered the library as a resource in anyway Mr. Mesibov and the institute could use it in furthering their mission.

In launching the new partnership, the library will be releasing a series of videos of Mr. Mesibov explaining the institute’s 18 Tips for School Staff, Parents, and Others, for Addressing the Needs of Children with Autism. They will be posted on the library’s YouTube channel and social media pages. Such tips include understanding how people with autism think, to be cautious using metaphors around people with autism, to understand that their behavior is communicating, and to “create C.A.L.M.: Comfort, Affirm, Love, Model.

“As a library, we are here for all of the community,” Mr. Eckert said. “After attending Mr. Mesibov’s March program and listening to a community member with autism and their family members, as well as area educators, what I took away from that meeting was there is an urgent need to educate the public about autism. We are now pleased to be able to assist Mr. Mesibov and the Institute for Learning Centered Education in this mission.”

Events will be posted to the PPL website as they are developed at

For further information contact Don Mesibov at

or William Eckert at

Finding Financial Wellness at PPL

Financial Wellness is something that everyone can benefit from, whether it is finding out regardless of income, saving is still possible, learning how to build a credit score, or how to become a homeowner. That’s why, starting this Thursday, PPL will begin hosting a series of discussions led by our newest partner, Key Bank’s Personal Banker Alene Dishman.

At 3:30PM, Thursday, May 12, in the PPL mezzanine classroom, Ms. Dishman and Key Bank Branch Manager Richard Gum will facilitate Introduction to Financial Wellness, and hour-long, free discussion group that will address the question, what is financial wellness, and outline the importance and impact it has on individuals and all aspects and members of their lives.

Registration is free and can be done at

This discussion will be focused on defining financial wellness for the everyday individual no matter where they find themselves personally, professionally or financially, as well as sharing and developing some best practices and methods of thinking. For this discussion Alene will come prepared with information on Key Bank’s checking, savings and credit products as these are typically the foundational products to developing financial wellbeing.

Since starting at the Potsdam branch of Key Bank, located at 17 Elm Street, Alene said she has been driven to get the word out about Key Bank’s mission to help communities develop Financial Wellbeing and to teach the practices and skills that can make this possible for every individual. 

“The most common objective I face from clients on a daily basis is ‘I don’t make enough money to save,’” Alene said. “This simply is not the case. I want to help open the door to the possibility of financial stability for all members of our community but also to the understanding that financial wellness is based on consistent decisions rather than flow or amount of income.”

Thursday’s discussion group is going to be a platform to continue bringing community members together to discuss other aspects of financial wellbeing. Alene said the range of potential future discussion groups is wide, but that she wants to allow it to be created by the needs of community members. She is currently developing future talks on:

  • Credit and How to Build It, 
  • Banking Products (Checking, Savings, CD’s, Lines of Credit, Credit Cards, Personal Loans, Mortgages, HELOCS, Auto Loans, etc.) their uses, the environment currently surrounding them, and how to know the right product for you, 
  • Fraud Prevention, and
  • Steps to Becoming a Homeowner.

“I want to help simplify it and make it understandable, less intimidating and more manageable for the everyday person, no matter what their financial situation is,” she said. “I’ve always had a deep passion for inspiring and empowering individuals to do and be more, whatever that means for them.

“My experience with clients has taught that I am far from the only adult in our geographical area that was unprepared for the unforgiving nature of the long term commitments we can be lured into entering adulthood,” she added. “I have this knowledge now of the financial industry and if it can help someone I just want to be proactive in sharing it.”

Information is key

Hello again, everyone,

A few weeks back, one of our wonderful PPL trustees, David Bradford, reached out with some programming ideas that we all agreed could be beneficial to the public.

David is both the volunteer Energy Navigator with Cornell Cooperative Extension as well as a New York State of Health certified navigator with the St. Lawrence Health Initiative.

On April 7, PPL hosted an “Insure New York” virtual conversation and presentation with David, in his capacity with the St. Lawrence Health Initiative, about affordable health insurance in a time where insurance has seen mandated changes due to Covid 19. Watch that presentation below.

David also talked about the increased financial assistance available with President Biden’s March 11 signing of the American Rescue Plan signed into law, making health insurance more affordable for both those that still need health insurance and those who already have plans.

More information can be found at, or by calling toll-free at 855-355-5777. David can be reached at (315)261-2338 or at

Insure NY, with David Bradford

PPL hosted a second talk with David on April 21 in his capacity as Energy Navigator. During that presentation, David promoted ways folks can make energy efficiency and cost-saving improvements to their homes, leading to ways homeowners can participate in incentive programs through NYSERDA, and potentially get a free “energy audit”.

That presentation, which can be viewed below, resulted in some questions, including whether non-profit organizations’ buildings are able to receive an energy audit?

Energy Navigator’s Informational Series, with David Bradford

Nick Hamilton-Honey, the CCE of SLC Natural Resources & Energy Educator covering St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, said community energy advisors vary depending on your county. Jefferson and Lewis counties are covered by Katie Ripstein at CCE of Jefferson County; Clinton, Essex, and Hamilton counties are covered by Annie Arnold at ANCA. More information, including contact info, can be found at Smart Energy Choices North Country

Throughout the presentation, Nick provided links in the chat that can help with finding energy-efficient products (, and, as well as where folks can find locally-produced hydropower through Northern Power & Light at