Building a sense of community one piece at a time

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By Renee Plant, Contributing Writer

Marlborough – Life is a lot like a puzzle: there are many pieces that need to be put together before you can see exactly how it’s meant to look.

For Marlborough resident Marta Burbeck, connecting the pieces hasn’t always been easy. Burbeck now runs the puzzle shop, Piecefully Yours, but originally came to the United States feeling well, puzzled, about what to do next.

“I began pondering what to do with my life,” she said. “I was a lawyer in Hungary for 10 years, and did charity work in England for another [decade]. What I realized in England was that community mattered, so I wanted to find a way to bring people together in their communities.”

Marta Burbeck (far left) with members of the Puzzle Club at Stow Library
Marta Burbeck (far left) with members of the Puzzle Club at Stow Library
Photo/submitted

Burbeck began using her love of puzzles not to connect pieces, but people. According to Burbeck, puzzles are a great way of getting different groups together because anyone who is interested can get involved.

“Puzzles don’t require any special skills,” she said. “They can bring people together regardless of age, experience or stage of life. It’s a natural way to get people into doing something together while having good conversation.”

In what could be considered a serendipitous turn of events, Burbeck’s plans aligned with someone else’s idea at just the right time, which lead to the formation of a weekly puzzle club at the Randall Library in Stow in April.

“I became intrigued with the idea of having a weekly activity for adults here at the library that might form a multigenerational bond,” said Library Director Melissa Fournier. “Forming a puzzle club seemed like the perfect solution [as a] quiet activity for the library [with] spaces available to spread out. Oddly enough, shortly after I’d decided to pursue the idea of a puzzle club, [Marta] contacted the library since she had decided a library puzzle club might be a good idea herself.”

Club member Ann Sadler, a recent retiree, said the idea of a puzzle club first appealed to her because it was a way to get together with others while keeping her mind focused.

“To me, the puzzle club is an escape I look forward to each week,” she said. “It is a treat I allow myself, and I find it very therapeutic. It is a very mindful activity, and it allows me to forget about everything else that is going on and focus on the puzzle itself.”
Fournier said she originally planned to use the library’s jigsaw puzzles for the club, but Burbeck proposed using her own Wentworth puzzles, which are composed of wooden pieces. This design has been beneficial, Fournier said, because the quality of the puzzles means they can easily withstand multiple uses.

“[Marta] has these great puzzle boards, which allow people to work on the same puzzle over a period of time, since they ‘lock’ the pieces down and can be stored and reopened,” she said. “This way, patron[s] can continue to work on the same puzzle for as long as it takes to finish. The puzzles are beautiful, and patrons love them.”

Burbeck, who has brought her puzzles everywhere from schools to rehabilitation centers, said she hopes to continue to spark a passion for puzzles in people who are looking for a meaningful activity.

She said: “My goal is to continue to coordinate group activities in different venues that will help get people together to do something with their time and energy while also getting to know each other.”