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Alumni Spotlight: Heidi Parker Paulette's Community Puzzle Shed

Last spring, Heidi Parker Paulette ’92 found herself looking for ways to pass the time at home. Like many, she enjoyed the stress relief of working on puzzles, but a shortage at stores made it more difficult than usual to find new options to complete. After encountering several posts on Facebook from people trying to make arrangements to borrow and swap, she had an idea. “It would be much easier if there was a location where people could go at their leisure to borrow and swap puzzles... [like those] little lending libraries.”

Community has always been important to Heidi, especially during her time at TA. As a student, she found connection and camaraderie on the soccer, track, cross country, and softball teams. She also played in the Marching and Jazz Bands, and helped start the school publication, Carpe Diem. Years later, as a mom, she’s enjoyed watching her sons (Jacob ’16, Dylan ’18, and Andrew ’23) benefit from the same rich community that shaped her at TA. So, putting her plan into action in order to bring people together was a natural next step.

Having recently started her own woodworking business, Heidi decided to draw up a plan and try her hand at constructing a small shed to house community puzzles. After a bit of trial and error, and with the help of her sons, the shed was ready. She created a Facebook group for like-minded puzzlers, encouraging folks to post pictures of their final product. “I put a handful in the shed and within a couple of weeks it was full!”

Heidi’s Facebook group has grown to more than 250 members, and each day people visit the puzzle shed to swap and trade. She also noticed the neighbors along her relatively busy street stopping by to peek and take part in the swap, oftentimes pausing to chat.

The Puzzle Shed gives neighbors an excuse to pause and chat and provides a fun activity for families and others in the community.

“The best part of the puzzle swap has been the people I have met and spoken with every day...I see children on bicycles stopping by, Moms with children searching in the shed together...the staff at residential homes, even picking up puzzles for seniors who can’t leave their rooms.”

Heidi’s community puzzle shed has been featured on local news and radio stations, and the story has been shared across the country and even in Canada. “We’ve created bonds, much like a puzzle, that connect us all. We are all just one piece of the puzzle, but together we create something beautiful, and that’s something to be proud of.

Are you a puzzler? If so, you may want to check out Heidi's Puzzle Swap Facebook group!