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A true “friend” of the library

Connie Elliott enjoys stories. She loves reading books, and she loves hearing people tell her their life story. Since it opened its doors in 2010, Elliott has volunteered for Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District at the High Prairie Library in Falcon.Elliottís life story began in Dover, N.H; however, when she was 16 years old, her family moved to a warmer climate. ìMy father wanted to go to Florida because he was so sick and tired of the aches and pains of the cold weather in New Hampshire,î she said. Elliott finished high school at South Broward High School in Hollywood, Fla., in 1963.After graduation, Elliott attended Florida Atlantic University to study humanities ñ she is lighthearted about her humanities degree. ìThat and 25 cents could get you a cup of coffee,î she said.Elliott received her bachelorís degree in 1967 and became a social studies teacher at a middle school in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. ìThere was a very innovative school just starting up in Fort Lauderdale that took a chance on me with no education degree,î she said. ìI did a long-term substitute in social studies.î She took a couple classes to receive her teaching certification before teaching seventh grade social studies, sticking with that job for five years. ìThe thing that I loved most about it was when the kids came to me before class, after class and during lunch and poured their hearts out to me,î she said.After her teaching experience, Elliott returned to Florida Atlantic University to obtain a masterís degree in guidance and counseling. She graduated in 1973. That same year, Elliott landed a job as an elementary school guidance counselor at Lake Forest Elementary in Hollywood, Fla. ìI was there for six years,î she said. ìI loved it. I really fell in love with little kids.î And it was through her job organizing career week that she fell in love with something else, too. ìEvery year, I had to put on career week, and I would invite people representing tons of occupations and professions from the community to talk to each grade level,î she said. ìThe Coast Guard was one of the groups I called, and they sent this handsome, young lieutenant.î That lieutenant was her future husband, Dave Elliott. The couple married in 1978.Elliott eventually quit her job to stay home with her first child, Scott, who was born in 1980. Two months later, her husband received orders to go to Cape Cod, Mass., where, in 1981, a second child, Patricia, was born. They stayed in Massachusetts for the next 10 years, until Dave Elliott was transferred to NORAD at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. ìI never thought Iíd like to live somewhere where the ocean was not 20 minutes away,î Elliott said. ìWe were house hunting, and we just fell in love with the climate and the geography. We both did.îHer husband retired from the Coast Guard in 1994. ìBut even after you retire, you still need a job,î Elliott said. So Dave Elliott began flying corporate jets and watching traffic for local media. To help with his commute, in 1999, the family moved from Colorado Springs to Falcon, so Dave could be closer to Meadow Lake Airport. ìThey were just moving dirt to build the Safeway,î she said. ìAnd I have loved seeing everything grow commercially. I love it. I just think we have the best of everything out here in Falcon.îJust as the Elliotts were adjusting to their new home in Falcon, their lives changed forever. In the early hours of April 11, 2001, they learned their daughter had been murdered in her apartment in Colorado Springs. ìYou find out things you donít want to find out ñ the double life your child has been living,î she said. ìShe (Patricia) was a lovely blonde; holding down a job at Olive Garden; going to school, but she was burning the candle at both ends.îThe Elliotts were shocked to find out that while attending the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, their daughter had been dealing drugs. Three drug dealers murdered Patricia. ìWe were always told (by the police), ëwe know who did it but we donít have enough (evidence), but someday,íî she said. ìThere was no statute of limitations.î The case went cold for the next five years.In 2006, a Springs detective contacted Elliott and said he had taken over the case and was ready to make some arrests. In 2008, three men responsible for Patriciaís murder went to trial ñ two were convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole; the third person was convicted of accessory to murder and sentenced to four years in prison. ìYour life just changes. Just like that.î she said. ìNo one can plan for anything. You never know whatís going to happen to you.îAfter the trial, Elliott found some comfort through a support group called M.O.M.Y (Mothers of Murdered Youth. ìYou surely gain awareness that you are not alone,î she said. Elliott also found comfort in books. ìBooks are my passion,î she said. ìI love being around books, and I love being in the company of people who feel the same way.î In April, Elliott said she has logged almost 99 volunteer hours at the High Prairie Library. ìI love to wallow in books and here I have an opportunity to do it and turn them into money for the library.îMoney raised through the Friends program goes to various items for each library within the library district. Elliott said one of the biggest contributions the Friends organization makes each year is helping to support the libraryís summer reading program. ìHigh Prairie Friends donates money for all the prizes for all the volunteers,î she said. ìAnd Friends gives money to the district for the overall cost of the summer reading program and the end-of-the year party.îBesides being surrounded by books, Elliott said she enjoys the people she meets while volunteering at the library. ìPeople come and talk to me. The most interesting people,î she said. ìYou donít have to be in a big, glamorous city to be surrounded by interesting people.îIn her spare time, she, of course, reads. ìWhen I get my chores done here (at the library), I like to pull a chair over and read,î Elliott said. ìIf I were home, there are too many distractions.îElliottís plans for the future are simple. ìIím happy with the little things,î she said. ìThere is value in just doing the things I want to do all day long. And before you know it, the time is gone.î

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