Puddles leads a pretty social life for a duck.
Her most recent adventure is appearing in the pages of a new book — “A Duck Named Puddles” — by two Emporium natives, Susie Singer, who is the duck’s owner, and Cathy Ostrum Swarmer. The women were high school classmates and graduated together.
The book is for children ages 3 to 8.
The title character is not only “part of the family” for Singer, but also part of the community. The American pekin has made visits to nursing homes, schools and daycares, and people can meet Puddles on Monday when she makes an appearance at the Cameron County Fair.
A portion of the proceeds will go to Hometown Mentors Inc. (HMI), a non-profit corporation that Swarmer founded a few years ago in Emporium.
According to Swarmer, the book is an example of the goodness she and Singer want their fellow Cameron County friends to experience.
She explained, “The one thing I want to stress for people is that there is still a world of fun, kindness and love out there. Susie always says that she just likes bringing smiles to faces of people, young and old.”
The HMI website shows photographs of Puddles and friends and tells the story of how Singer and Puddles first got acquainted through their present life together.
Swarmer, who serves as Hometown Mentors’ volunteer executive director, said the organization started from her passion for her hometown.
HMI has united people who set and work toward goals to improve the Emporium community.
Projects by the organization have included sponsoring a reunion tribute concert in 2013. The concert brought together 90 former Cameron County High School choir members to sing with their former music teacher and mentor Sue Ann Beveridge. Alumni traveled not only from across Pennsylvania but also California, Alaska, Texas and Florida to take part.
“It was a wonderful weekend showing love to (Beveridge),” said Swarmer, who noted that the former music teacher died last year.
In 2014, HMI helped rebuild the Prospect Park playground in Cameron County. The organization worked with kaboom.org, and they received private and community donations, along with a $10,000 equipment grant from Dr. Pepper and Snapple.
“We also have sponsored the Hometown Hall of Fame since 2014 through 2019 for Cameron County High School,” said Swarmer. She explained the Hall of Fame “brings home heroes and heroines from high school days to honor their lifetime careers in sports.”
Hometown Mentors is currently run by all volunteers.
Also, “We are reorganizing and looking for board members with a passion for their hometown,” she said.
Swarmer believes Puddles’ popularity shows that people are looking for optimistic experiences this year, which has brought new difficulties for everyone.
“The success of the book is wonderful and crazy all at the same time,” she said. “I think people are hungry to see a duck.... who takes them away from the fear of COVID and riots and just helps them think about home and love and fancy... even if it’s just a little while.”