Library System Volunteers of the Year
Every year, each of our twenty-five branches and units selects a volunteer they want to acknowledge as their Volunteer of the Year. From these nominees, one volunteer is selected for system-wide recognition as San José Public Library’s Volunteer of the Year. This year, we had a tie for the top honor! Join us in congratulating the 2015 SJPL System Volunteers of the Year—Nikita Takru from the Evergreen Branch Library’s CodeUCan program and Kathy Dart, the Computer Lab Coordinator for Partners in Reading adult literacy program!
Evergreen Branch Library - Nikita Takru
Nikita Takru came to the Evergreen Branch as a volunteer in January 2014. In the summer of that year Nikita launched the incredibly popular CodeUCan Camp, where she taught children ages 9-12 the basics of coding. Originally focusing on HTML, the program returned in the fall to cover JAVA. Since the initial summer launch of CodeUCan, the program has reached close to 100 students and expanded to two additional branches with more planned in the near future. Nikita has also taken the time to find and train two additional tutors, who continue to facilitate the original Evergreen program. Nikita has volunteered over 200 hours in the past year and is also a Girls Who Code Ambassador at the Evergreen Branch. Nikita is not just an amazing single branch volunteer, but really a system wide volunteer reaching children throughout the community to inspire a love of computers and coding.
Partners in Reading - Kathy Dart
Kathy is a thoughtful, patient, caring volunteer whose dedication to adult literacy has had a profound impact on Partners in Reading (PAR). As PAR’s Computer Lab Coordinator, Kathy occupies a key leadership position working at least eight hours a week developing learning opportunities for low literate adults and managing a cadre of volunteer instructors. In addition to exceeding all expectations as PAR’s Lab Coordinator, Kathy is always willing to walk the extra mile. Collaborating with staff and another volunteer, she recently edited, updated and customized PAR’s favorite computer links list. The images in the new list are much easier for low literate learners to navigate. The result is a user-friendly, organized resource that benefits PAR learners, instructors and customers at the Family Learning Centers. Kathy has volunteered over 600 hours in the last 18 months and genuinely cares about adult literacy.
Branch Volunteers of the Year
San José Public Library salutes all of the Volunteers of the Year who have made such positive contributions to our community. We are truly grateful that you choose to volunteer with the Library!
Almaden Branch Library - Nancy Koppel
Nancy Koppel is an outstanding volunteer that Almaden Branch is very fortunate to have. Nancy was an officer with the Friends of the Almaden Library for six year. Nancy does an amazing job of volunteering nearly every day at the Library. She and the other Friends volunteers empty the donation bins, sort the materials, and stock the ongoing Book Sale. The ongoing Book Sale is a real benefit to Almaden Branch as it brings in an average of $1000 per month to the Friends Gift Trust Fund. Nancy has also been heavily involved in promoting, organizing, and managing the two yearly Giant Book Sales that the Friends provide in the Community Center’s large Community Room.
Alviso Branch Library and East Carnegie Branch Library - Margaret Fitch
In 1967, Margaret started her library career as a PT page at the San Jose main library while attending SJSU. After she retired in 2004, as a Children’s librarian, she continued her service by becoming a member of the Friends of the Library. Margaret’s responsibilities during her volunteer career for the San Jose Public Library have included serving as President of the Alviso Friends of the Library since 2005, serving as a Reading to Children volunteer, and performing puppet shows at San Jose library branch locations. Margaret’s dedication and commitment to volunteerism is a boon to the Alviso Branch Library.
For several years, Margaret Fitch has been a dedicated member of the Friends of East San José Carnegie Library. As a retired San José Public librarian, she is aware of the importance of the public library to the community it serves. In the book sale events, Margaret is instrumental in raising funds for library programs and services. Margaret is a great example of what it means to give back to the community that we live in.
Alum Rock Branch Library - Denise Stephens
Denise Stephens has been making a difference in the lives of innumerable children and their families for the last five years at the Alum Rock Branch Library as a Scholastic Supervisor and as a Friend of the Alum Rock Branch Library. Her ability to juggle many students over a wide range of grade levels and subjects stems from her work in public education, first as a teacher, then as an administrator and principal for over 34 years. As a Friend of the Alum Rock Branch, Denise puts in countless hours on most days managing the constant influx of donated books in preparation for the Friends’ book sales. The Alum Rock Branch Library benefits greatly from Denise’s commitment to serve as well as her desire to give back to the community.
Bascom Branch Library - Ron Nagahara
Ron Nagahara has been volunteering at the Bascom Branch Library as a Tech Mentor every Wednesday since the library opened two years ago. As a Tech Mentor, Ron has shared his technology skills with our customers. He has also agreed to be a judge at the upcoming Tech Challenge - a multi-agency program. Drawing on his years of experience in the tech field, Ron has an impact on the Library every week.
In talking with Ron he expressed that he finds this nomination “quite an honor”. Actually, the honor is all ours sir! Thank you so much for your service and community spirit!
Berryessa Branch Library - Alicia Martinez and Cecilia Fiamengo
Alicia and Cecilia have been members of the Friends of the Berryessa Branch Library for a little over 3 years. During this relatively short period of time, Alicia and Cecilia brought their amazing organizational skills and passion for helping the library to the existing Berryessa Friends group. Their positive energy and leadership skills re-energized this dedicated team of volunteers. Cecilia’s talent came to the surface when she took on the responsibility of managing the Friends’ finances as Treasurer. This dynamic pair has contributed their time, skills, experience and wisdom and they serve as our champions and help other Friends to focus on the future and to move forward. Without their support, the Berryessa library customers would not have the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of library programs.
Biblioteca Latinoamericana - Erik Petersen
Erik Petersen has been a dedicated ESL Conversation Club Facilitator at the Biblioteca Latinoamericana Branch since February 2012 and has served over 180 volunteer hours. After learning the German language from good patient teachers while studying abroad in Germany, Erik wanted to give back by teaching others English. As a Linguistic and Foreign Language major, Erik has found it rewarding to teach his ESL Conversation Club participants by sharing his natural curiosity and analytical approach to languages. His experience as ESL Conversation Club Facilitator has given him the opportunity to learn from his students, as well. Erik has proven to be a valuable volunteer at the Biblioteca Latinoamericana, exemplifying what it means to give back to the community.
Cambrian Branch Libray - Connie Springer
Connie has been a tremendous help to the Friends of the Cambrian Library for the past five years. She helps manage the huge Friends of the Cambrian Library Book Sale twice a year. Her responsibilities include sorting and evaluating the donations as well as maintaining the year-round “Book Nook.” The proceeds from the book sale are used to bring popular programs to the community, to supplement the materials budget, and to sponsor the popular Silicon Valley Reads program. It is always a pleasure to see the smiling faces of Connie and her husband, Walt, in the branch as they help us out with the donations.
Calabazas Branch Library - Brian Qin
In early 2014, Brian stepped up to assume the ESL Conversation Club Facilitator position when the current facilitator was no longer available. His willingness to take over on short notice was greatly appreciated, and it proved to be a seamless transition. Brian has demonstrated week in, week out that he possesses the skills to manage the class, bring creative solutions when required, and develop varied curriculum based on different English proficiencies. His pleasant personality, sense of humor, and calm demeanor serve as a welcome to members both new and old.
Edenvale Branch Library - Friends of the Edenvale Library
Our Friends of the Edenvale Library have been invaluable in their continued support of the branch since its opening in November 2007. The group is a cornerstone for raising funds through quarterly book sales that support educational and cultural programming that enrich the lives of our library customers. In addition to sponsoring twice monthly paid programs, the Friends of the Edenvale Library generously support the very popular annual Santa Visit and Silicon Valley Reads author visits. Judy serves as President and is active in planning the quarterly Book Sales, and recruiting teen helpers for each event. Joe and Jim are among the most active members, each visiting the branch several times per week and processing book donations. The Friends of the Edenvale Library are a wonderful asset to the Edenvale community.
Educational Park Branch Library - Juli Bautista
Juli Bautista has amazed the Library staff with her dedicated commitment to the library. She has spent many hours decorating the library festively for various holidays and has contributed to our teensReach group with creative ideas and suggestions. She is always very prompt and reliable and her smile is a welcome addition to our volunteer cadre. Juli also volunteered during last Summer’s Reading Celebration at the Hillview Library where she shined as an unofficial lead volunteer. Her outgoing personality helped to attract more families to the Summer Reading table where she signed up a lot of new customers and where she explained instructions thoroughly. Juli’s service has showed initiative, commitment and passion.
Hillview Branch Library - Jasper Huang
Jasper Huang has been volunteering as a Chess Leader at the Hillview Branch Library since October 2013. He is very reliable, punctual, and cordial. Jasper teaches children at different age and skill levels how to become better chess players. He is very patient and always uses different approaches with his chess tactics to inspire and challenge the young participants. Jasper is a wonderful volunteer who truly has a passion for his role as the Chess Leader. Our staff and customers really appreciate his commitment and dedication.
Joyce Ellington Branch Library - Maria Card
Maria has been a volunteer in our library since October 3, 2013. During that time she donated 196 hours of service. Maria has been an enthusiastic volunteer. Her assignment as a Homework Club Coordinator includes tutoring basic Math, English, Writing and Reading to children ages 6-12 years of age. She always brings a positive attitude when she volunteers, and has built constructive relationships with her students and staff. She is definitely an asset to the community and SJPL!
King Library Youth Services - Julia Macias
In 2013 Julia volunteered as a Homework Coach for our Homework Club because she needed to complete 20 hours as a requirement for her Childhood and Adolescent Development class. She was a fantastic coach working very well with the students. When our Homework Club started up again in September of 2014 Julia asked to return as a Homework Club Coordinator because of the great experience she had working with children. Without Julia we would not be able to provide the Homework Club three days a week. She is reliable, responsible, works well with our young students and also with our San Jose State student volunteers. She arrives early to get the room and supplies ready and always has a smile for everyone.
King Public Reference and Resources - Diana Poteete
Diana Poteete is a Tech Mentor on the third floor of King Library. She meets individually with all who ask for her computer expertise, two hours a day, twice weekly. She has kept this schedule since February of 2014, providing a huge community service. When asked what makes a good Tech Mentor, Diana responded, "Commitment, patience, blindness to outward appearances, and the ability to interact. You have to want to help people." For this attitude, which sums up Diana, she was chosen as the KPRR volunteer of the year.
Pearl Avenue Branch Library - Lillie Ikeda
Lillie volunteers for the Friends for four to six hours a week. She has also been the treasurer for the Pearl Friends since 2010. She spends significant time searching Amazon books to sell special items and replenishes the petty cash fund when needed. Lillie knows many of the regular customers and often helps select books or saves books for them. Lillie has been an important part of the Pearl Avenue Friends for the last five years. She is a great supporter of the Library and the Friends. We are very lucky to have her as a dedicated volunteer.
Rose Garden Branch Library - Lorraine Pedretti
Lorraine has been the facilitator for the ESL Conversation Club at Rose Garden Library for over a year. The goal of the ESL Conversation Club program is to create an opportunity for English language learners to practice English conversation skills. Lorraine is completely professional in carrying out her responsibilities and is great at working independently. Those who work with her have a great deal of respect for her.
Santa Teresa - Ellie Guo and Jing Liao
Ellie Guo and Jing Liao provide an invaluable service as teachers in our Mandarin Language and Culture Class. Ellie and Jing approached the branch with the idea of offering an introductory level class for children to learn the Mandarin Chinese language through song and play. The goal was for children to learn a different language, culture and to broaden their horizons. Since the first class in November of 2013, Ellie and Jing have met this goal and exceeded expectations. Ellie and Jing possess the true volunteer spirit and they are a delight to have as members of our volunteer team.
Seven Trees Branch Library - Jasmine Shone
Jasmine Shone is the leader of our Seven Trees Board Game program (the Game Zone!). Jasmine comes in each Friday for the program, puts out a selection of games for the children to play and she makes popcorn. Jasmine merits special recognition because of her reliability, her commitment, and the great attitude she brings with her to the library. Her program serves as a great place for kids to interact, make friends, and learn new games. The impact of Jasmine’s work is considerable.
Tully Branch Library - Citizenship Class Leaders
The Tully Community Branch 2015 Volunteer of the Year is awarded to the Citizenship Class volunteers: Cathy Nguyen, Thoa Tran, Rafael Avalos-Hernandez and Charlie Wilson. The Citizenship Class volunteers deserve special recognition due to their consistency and dedication. Since the class’s inception in 2007, it has never been cancelled due to lack of volunteers. From leading participants through 100 civics questions to conducting mock interviews, the quartet works together harmoniously every Wednesday evening helping more than 50 people learn English, U.S. history and government in preparation for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Naturalization Interview.
Vineland Branch Library - Margaret Burnham
Margaret Burnham has been a member of the Friends of the Vineland Library for many years. She works in the Book Nook, helping to sort and display the books. She also is now in her fifth year as serving on the Board as the "Member-At-Large", attending all Board meetings and voting on all issues, breaking ties if needed. In addition to her other duties, this past year Margaret has taken on the responsibility of managing the monthly Mini Lobby Sales, held on the fourth Tuesdays of most months. We are so grateful for all the time and energy Margaret donates to the Vineland Library.
West Valley Branch Library- Patty Hanford
Patty is West Valley’s coordinator of LEGO® Club. This program, from its inception, has been an unqualified success. Each Friday afternoon, Patty opens the Community Room to an anxious group of children and parents/caregivers who can’t wait to use imaginations to assemble creations of their own design. She has participated and supported related programs, and is open to any and all suggestions. Patty is encouraging, supportive, patient, and welcoming. Her consistency, independence, and positive attitude continue to contribute to the success of this program.
Willow Glen Branch Library - Maureen McMullen
Maureen has been a long-time, dedicated member of the Willow Glen Friends group. She is the treasurer, and in this role issues checks for programs, tracks receipts, and conducts the banking for the group. In addition she is involved with stocking materials in the Friends’ area. Along with other volunteers, she sets up, attends, and takes down each quarterly Friends’ Book Sale. We enjoy Maureen's good humor and look forward to her weekly visits.