Called "A Dream for Kim," the mural was painted by artist and East Rockaway resident Diana Corvelle at the request of Kim's parents, Marie and Peter Forgach, after their only daughter died unexpectedly in May 2004.
Rendered in vivid colors, Kim is the focus of the mural, a larger-than-life figure surrounded by what she loved most - her beloved English springer spaniel, Monty, and her books, including her favorite, the classic "Anne of Green Gables."
The Forgaches didn't know how many people to expect when Kim's Corner was formally dedicated on Saturday, but they were astounded when more than 100 people, including family, friends and neighbors, came to pay tribute to Kim and to them.
When Kim died, the Forgaches realized that people would want to buy flowers or make donations in her memory. They didn't want money spent on elaborate floral arrangements, and although they liked the idea of contributions, they were looking for something that would be more personal than money going to national or international charities. Since Kim was such an avid reader and the Forgaches are longtime residents of Rockville Centre, they decided that a room devoted to teens at the library would be the most meaningful way to honor Kim's memory.
Peter Forgach served on the library's board as a trustee for six years, and Kim was poised for a run of her own before she became ill last year.
Corvelle, who was filled with emotion as people admired her work, graduated from South Side High School with Kim in 1999. She said that the Forgaches were instrumental in deciding what to include in the mural, and that she wanted to paint a "fantastical, beautiful" work in memory of her friend. "I call it 'A Dream for Kim' because this is my dream for her," Corvelle said through tears.
"We wanted to know what the library needed," said Peter Forgach, who said that he and his wife worked closely with Gretchen Browne, the library's director, and her staff. The project took about nine months to complete, and the room, which accommodates up to 25 people, will be used primarily by young adults and reading groups, but is open to people of all ages. "I worked with the Forgaches to fine-tune everything," said Browne. "It all pulled together. People are going to fight over who gets to use the room. They've helped to create the most beautiful room in the library."
A composed Peter Forgach addressed the crowd, thanking the library's trustees for making Kim's Corner a reality. He said that Kim, a graduate of Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania who was thinking about going to law school, was initially unsure about making a bid for a library board position, but "thought it would look good on law school applications," her father said. "Kim was no dummy," he added, and the appreciative crowd responded with laughter. Forgach said that Kim was an absolutely avid reader who enjoyed the "masters," including Nora Roberts. "She personally put Nora Roberts on the best-seller list," her father said.
Millie Sena, a cousin of Kim's from North Bellmore, was among the relatives who were on hand for the dedication. "The mural is just so riveting you can't stop looking at it," said Sena.
In addition to the mural, Kim's Corner is filled with other artwork, some of which came from current South Side High School juniors and seniors. One piece was created by Brian Plunger, an art student who graduated from high school with Kim. Keith Gamache, an IB art teacher at the school, selected all the artwork for the space, but said his real pleasure was being able to teach Diana and Kim for four years.
Marie Forgach was extremely pleased with the room, which is set up like a living room. "Diana is amazing," she said. "She exceeded our expectations."
"This is not about Kim," her husband said in his closing remarks to the audience. "It's about you - the community, the friends that we all have."
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