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Volunteer Spotlight: Rachelle Namak

by Katie R - 0 Comment(s)

Rachelle is a recently-retired Calgary Public Library staff member and is one of Calgary Public Library’s wonderful volunteers! Rachelle volunteers with “Conversations in English”, a program helping to develop the speaking skills of a library staff member on a one-on-one, volunteer-to-staff basis. Rachelle was instrumental in the creation of the program and has been an amazing advocate since the first matches began in December 2013!

Rachelle’s experience as an educator coupled with her warm personality and wonderful sense of humour make her an ideal candidate to bring out the best in her matches. She uses a wide variety of techniques to get her matches talking, helping them become comfortable in every topic under the sun, from work to movies to everyday life in Calgary. Rachelle has gone above and beyond the call of duty, taking on several matches at two different libraries!

One of Rachelle’s matches has this to say: "Rachelle has helped my English since January this year. She is very smart and patient. I brought up the topics to discuss each time. Talk to her seems to talk to an old friend. She is very kind person and generous. She encourages me to learn from my mistakes. I am so happy to be her student and her friend as well."

Another one of Rachelle’s matches said this: :Rachelle is a very nice lady. She is always positive and enthusiastic, and a true friend. I have learned a lot from her. She has taught me far more than English in our sessions. Every time after our meeting, I have become more confident in my social skills which has helped me integrate into Canadian society. I am so thankful to her not only as my English tutor, but as my liaison to Canadian society. I really appreciate all the time and support she gives to me. Thank you, Rachelle."

Rachelle has proven time and time again her commitment to English language learners, and her impact on the lives of those she works with is so important.

Thank you Rachelle for everything you do!

2014 Volunteer Recognition Event

by Katie R - 0 Comment(s)

On April 11, 2014 we held our annual Volunteer Recognition Event at the Central Library. Over 500 volunteers, guests and staff attended this year and enjoyed an awards ceremony and reception with food, cupcakes, and music. This special evening celebrates the amazing contribution Calgary Public Library volunteers make to library programs.

This year we also celebrated 40 years of our Homebound Readers volunteer program! Congratulations to our own "Famous Five" — Carolyn Arrell, Nellie Befus, Phyllis Gale, Norma High, and Becky Lathrop have been volunteering with the program since its inception 40 years ago.

Thanks to everyone that helped make it a fantastic night, and thanks to all Calgary Public Library volunteers!

 

22 Books in a Single Bound

by Katie R - 1 Comment(s)

Gisela has been volunteering with the Libraries in Residence program for over 10 years and is well known by staff from the Central Library all the way up to the Nosehill Library. Through the Libraries in Residence Program, library staff select and deliver “mini libraries” to continuing care centres and seniors’ residences. Volunteers host the in-residence libraries or provide “room service” via book trolleys. Volunteers have an opportunity to meet and discuss reading with seniors and people with disabilities who share a passion for reading. Volunteers may be residents of the facility, or individuals who visit the facility on a regular basis.

Library staff remark that Gisela is a regular visitor, ordering books for Bethany residents and has been known to deliver as many as 22 large print books to a single person! Gisela doesn’t volunteer for the glory or the recognition. “If it makes people’s lives a little better, it’s a worthwhile endeavor" is how Gisela puts it.

One Bethany resident said that if Gisela ever left, she would have to follow her, wherever that may be. Fellow Bethany volunteers describe Gisela as unforgettable and Library staff would certainly agree. Thank you Gisela!

"Super-Nanny" to the Rescue!

by Katie R - 1 Comment(s)

‘Super-Nanny’. That’s how Vivian, age 11 and currently in Gr. 6, and her parents, Daniel and Sandra, refer to Eileen, the volunteer who’s been working with Vivian in the TD Read With Me program since February 2009. For an hour a week during most weeks since then, Vivian and Eileen have met at a Library branch and shared reading in order to help Vivian develop her English literacy skills.

Vivian’s parents Sandra and Daniel are originally from South America and their first language is Spanish. When Vivian first started learning to read in English at school, they were a bit concerned as they felt they couldn’t provide as much help to her at home as they would have liked in this area. They decided to seek extra support for her through the Library's TD Read With Me program.

Enter Eileen and her dedicated, kind and patient help. Daniel explains: "Each week, we met with Eileen and saw Vivian progressing and becoming more confident. We started to notice how much help she was providing to Vivian and even to us, as parents. Vivian is now so confident – she corrects us on our pronunciation in English and sometimes serves as our ‘personal translator’. She also shows a special love for books and a love of learning in general. We feel this development is not only from the school environment, but also because of the friendship with Eileen. This is not just a reading program to us. We have developed a strong relationship with Eileen and we’re grateful for her time and knowledge. It’s more like a family relationship with her, for the whole family." Hence, ‘Super-Nanny’.

Vivian provided her own feedback about working with Eileen in the program:‘"I like being with her because I get a bit of social life with her and I enjoy reading with her. We read books on lots of topics. I like the program of the Library. It’s actually very good. I learned so much from Eileen’s experiences and all the words she’s taught me. It’s helped me in school. Eileen’s really nice and kind and when I don’t get something, she explains it until I get it and she’s a great person."

The feelings are mutual, as Eileen shares: "I've thoroughly enjoyed working with Vivian and her family. She’s kind of filled a gap for me because my grandchildren are all grown-up. I’ve always loved reading. We have fun."

Eileen and Vivian currently comprise the longest-standing match in the program, and they will have been working together for 5 years as of February 2014. What an amazing feat - to build such a strong and enduring bond! Thank you, Eileen, for all the time and energy you have dedicated to volunteering with Calgary Public Library! And best of luck to you, Vivian, in Junior High next fall!

Meet Our Volunteer Ricky!

by Katie R - 0 Comment(s)

Say Hi to Ricky!

Ricky is one of our superstar Reading Buddies volunteers. Not only has he volunteered for two years with the program, but he was also a Reading Buddies participant when he was younger. "I loved it so much that I came back!"

The Calgary Public Library's Reading Buddies program pairs youth volunteers with children in grades 1-3 to help them develop a life-long love of reading and confidence in their literacy skills.

Ricky enjoys volunteering for Reading Buddies because it is an entertaining and enriching program. As an aspiring teacher this program allows him to work with children and develop their reading abilities. Ricky takes time and care with each of his little buddies, knowing each child is unique in their strengths and interests.

He believes that volunteering is valuable not only for yourself but for your community. "Every volunteer has a meaningful impact on the community, creating a network of support and strengthening the structures of a community each time they decide to give up a bit of their time."

Without volunteers like Ricky, the Reading Buddies program would not be as successful as it is now. Thank you so much for giving up a bit of your time every week. Your hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm make you a valuable member of Calgary Public Library’s volunteer team!

To learn more about becoming a Reading Buddies volunteer please call Jody Watson at 403-221-2062.

A Match Made in Canada

by Katie R - 0 Comment(s)

'I really liked working with Sharon because she helped me a lot if I had trouble and helped me sound words out. She’s nice.’

Strong praise from Brian, a Grade 6 student and recent graduate of the TD Read With Me program. He was speaking of Sharon Dun, the volunteer with whom he has worked in the program since December 2009. As of his graduation date in mid-June, Sharon and Brian comprised the 4th longest-standing match in the program. Matches in the TD Read With Me program meet one-on-one in a Library branch for an hour per week, so the participants can receive support around building their literacy skills from the volunteers, and it is a rare (and kindred) match that stays together for 3.5 years!

Sharon started with the program in February 2009 and worked for about six months with another young reader before she met Brian and his family. She is a kind, caring and fun individual with a wonderful sense of humour and she works hard to connect with and engage her young students in their sessions together each week.

Sharon relates:‘It’s been a great experience for me…I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been very rewarding, in many aspects. Brian’s family has been so involved, supportive and encouraging of Brian. I’ve felt really appreciated. I’m impressed with how much Brian has improved with his reading and self-confidence. It’s been really neat to watch him grow and learn.’

Inju and Kang Chul, Brian’s parents, wanted to voice their esteem for Sharon as well:‘We really appreciate Sharon coming every week and helping Brian. He enjoys the Library sessions with her because she makes things fun. We feel it’s really great that Sharon volunteers her time- it’s not the case as much [that people volunteer] in Korea, where we’re from, so it’s really incredible and we’re thankful.’

Thank you, Sharon, for all the amazing help you’ve provided to Brian in the TD Read With Me program! Best of luck to you in junior high, Brian!

Pictured above: Volunteer Sharon Dun, Learner Brian, and parents Inju and Kang Chul

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