The 2016 Volunteers of the Year
Library System Volunteers of the Year
Every year, each of our twenty-four 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. As always we recognize the great contributions and efforts of all our winners! Join us in congratulating the 2016 SJPL System Volunteers of the Year—Jinwoo Park from the Santa Teresa Branch Library’s CodeUCan program and teenReach member working with the Friends of the Library.
Santa Teresa Branch Library - Jinwoo Park
Since becoming a teenReach member in 2013, Jinwoo has been an engaged volunteer and leader with the library. Jinwoo helps with the Summer Reading Challenges and various crafts and programs. Bringing confidence and leadership skills to he's duties, Jinwoo is a highly self-driven volunteer taking on a number of responsibilities, including training incoming teens on library procedures and volunteer activities. He is a reliable teensReach member, but also an exceptional helper for the Friends of the Library, having received a special recognition from our Friend’s group for his leadership skills during their book sales. In June 2015, Jinwoo became a Program Leader at the library, working with CodeUCan founder Nikita Takru to bring CodeUCan programming classes to Santa Teresa, engaging with the community and teaching children much needed skills. This weekly program is filling a need in the community and is highly appreciated..
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 - Eric Wang
Eric Wang is the Almaden branch’s "Math Tutor" who helps K-12 students one-on-one every week with any of their mathematics challenges. Eric started before the 2014 school year. He deserves special recognition due to his merits in versatility, dedication, and management skills. Eric is a versatile tutor who helps in math subjects ranging from elementary to upper high school. Eric’s pleasant personality makes customers of all ages feel at ease. The fact that in two years of volunteering he has missed only two sessions shows how dedicated he is. Eric even offers tutoring year-round, during summers and other times when the schools are off. Eric recruits and selects other teen volunteers to assist in this tutoring program to expand the number of customers helped.
Alviso Branch Library - Anil Mangla
Anil is volunteering as a Yoga instructor at the Alviso Branch Library since September 2013. He is dedicated to his students and consistently demonstrates patience, kindness, sensitivity, and concern while also promoting personal well-being. Anil offers a creative, physical, and mental yoga experience for families who desire a healthy approach to living. While providing service for two yoga classes a week. He teaches a variety of yoga positions concentrating on form, balance, and breathing techniques in a comfortable environment for all age groups. Anil's hard work made his yoga class one of the most popular programs at the Alviso library.
Dr. Alberto Cruz - Alum Rock Branch Library - Thu Nguyen
Thu is the current president of Alum Rock's teensReach, and is an excellent and consistent leader. Thu proactively grows and organizes teensReach with regularly planning group activities, coordinating with members online, and spreading enthusiasm through local schools. She successfully motivates and organizes local teens to put on many spectacular events including a six-week summer enrichment program, Battle the Summer Slide, and annual carnivals during Halloween and Christmas. Additionally, through a partnership with the Alum Rock Educational Foundation, these programs reached hundreds of families and successfully distributed new books to them. While balancing school and other commitments, Thu always makes teensReach and service to the community a top priority.
Bascom Branch Library - Tracy Owen
Tracy brings the gift of music to elementary school aged children at the Bascom Branch Library. For the past one and a half years, Tracy's recorder class continues to meet weekly. The program began with one class for beginning students and has expanded to accommodate three levels of ability. Tracy's ;professionalism and dedication to students is demonstrated by the number of students that have advanced in their abilities. She also contributes to the success of our Santa program, selecting holiday songs appropriate for each of the groups’ expertise. Tracy has brought unique and valuable skills to the children of our community.
Berryessa Branch Library - Camille DaRocha
Camille is a volunteer at the Berryessa Branch who helps to grow and maintain one of the library’s popular attractions: The Seed Library. Camille spends several hours a week researching correct planting times, calling attention to areas that need improvement, and brainstorming how to better educate and encourage patrons. Camille works with the Santa Clara County Master Gardener’s to create a Plant Swap at their monthly meetings, and co-created a Seed & Plant Swap event with the library. Her dedication extends further: Camille also donates plants to the Seed Garden, created a "guerilla" poppy garden in front of the library, and uses spare time at home to create pre-packaged seed envelopes.
Biblioteca Latinoamericana Branch Library - Calero Post Senior Program
Since 2013, the Calero Post Senior Program regularly volunteers at the Biblioteca Latinoamericana Branch. They assist in cleaning tables, chairs, computers, and sweeping the patio area. They provide a valuable service by helping to maintain the library's clean and welcoming environment. The Calero Post Senior Program shows its dedication to the library by volunteering to help improve it for everyone.
Calabazas Branch Library - Kimberly Su
When Kimberly came to the Calabazas Branch Library to volunteer in the summer of 2013, she quickly completed her Reading to Children training and became a staff and customer favorite! Regular attendees come because Kimberly has a ready smile, an engaging personality, a pleasing reading style, and a willingness to serve her small customers and their parents. Rarely absent, Kimberly's service also merits special recognition because: she recruited her own future replacement as she goes off to college and made sure that the transition would be as seamless as possible!
Cambrian Branch Library - Alyne Hazard
Alyne has been an outstanding ESL coordinator at the Cambrian Branch Library for over two years. Our program was very small when she began volunteering and has grown to an impressive size due to her efforts. Alyne always prepares interesting topics for discussion. She works with participants from different cultures and levels of English proficiency. What really keeps students returning, though, is her warm and welcoming personality. This Thanksgiving, Alyne held a delightful dinner for the members of the ESL group and a branch librarian at home. In addition to preparing a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, she explained the different traditions associated with the holiday. A wonderful time was had by everyone!
East Carnegie Branch Library - Remedio "Rem" Norita
Rem is a Scholastic Supervisor at the East Carnegie Branch Library. She volunteers with the Homework Club, tutoring children of different ages and helping them with their homework. Rem also supervises students from San Jose State University who volunteer as homework coaches. She and the homework coaches help children understand their school subjects. Rem also volunteers teaching French to children. She organizes the French lesson plans, and the children enjoy learning a new language, which for them is a second or even third language! In addition to being friendly, reliable and creative, Rem is a good role model for the elementary and middle school students, as well as the students from San Jose State University who also help the students with their homework.
Edenvale Branch Library - Sergio Morales
Sergio began volunteering for Edenvale Branch Library in the ‘Reading to Children’ program in August, 2014, reading stories to children in Spanish. Sergio shares his unparalleled enthusiasm for storytelling every Monday afternoon with over 300 Spanish speaking youngsters and their families, developing a devoted following. His weekly 'Reading to Children' shift is much like watching a special performance of stories, songs and rhymes! Sergio continues to spread the joy of reading to Edenvale's Spanish speaking youngsters. He also creates and presents a variety of Spanish-language holiday programming throughout the year, including a Spanish-language Christmas story time.
Educational Park Branch Library - David Vargas
In July of 2014, David joined Educational Park Branch Library's teensReach group and now serves as president. During the last year and a half, David led many programs, served as a tutor with Read Write Discover, helped readers as part of our Reading Buddies program, and spent many hours manning our Summer Reading table, signing up participants and awarding prizes. His service to our community has been a shining example to other teens. David recently became one our valued Library Services Volunteers. In February 2015, he was honored for exemplary volunteer service with a President’s Volunteer Service Award!
Evergreen Branch Library - Diana Yost
Since 2012, Diana has been the fearless and dedicated ESL Conversation Club facilitator at Evergreen Branch Library. Every week, rain or shine, 1 student or 10, Diana is at the Evergreen Library providing a welcoming and encouraging environment where members of the community can come to practice and improve his/her English skills. Diana consistently goes above and beyond for her students, and even provides activities and crafts that help individuals understand the customs and culture in America. Diana's passion for her students is evident, and we are very lucky to have Diana so generously share her time, knowledge and skills with the Evergreen community every week.
Hillview Branch Library - Jillian Peterson
Jillian serves as a Level 1 ESL Conversation Club Facilitator at Hillview Branch Library for the past nine months. In that time she has been selfless in helping patrons practice their English speaking. Every Saturday Jillian supervises a dedicated group that attend to practice with her. She is also instrumental in attracting new participants. Jillian recommended another prospective volunteer to the library staff with interest in facilitating another conversation club. As a result, Hillview Library has an additional Level 2 Conversation Club which occurs every Tuesday night. Jillian's positive impact in helping others learn English is felt in our library and in the surrounding community.
Instruction and Programming Services - Nikhil Cheerla and Vineet Kosaraju
As founders of the non-profit organization MathandCoding, Nikhil Cheerla (left) and Vineet Kosaraju (right) have led a team of volunteers to provide more than forty computer programming workshops in San José Public Libraries.These workshops have included a range of offerings, including "Coding for Kids," "Introductory Java," "HTML/CSS," and "Web Design." These workshops have been intensive, multi-session classes and have required a high level of commitment from teen volunteers. As MathandCoding founders Nikhil and Vineet have taken on the challenge of developing the curriculum for the workshops, recruiting and training volunteers and, in several instances, leading the workshops.
Joyce Ellington Branch Library - Malissa Magallanez
Malissa has been a member of the Friends of Joyce Ellington Library for over four years. During the past year Malissa worked a weekly shift at a local farmer's market during the summer selling books for our Friend's group and helping to raise funds to support library programs and activities. By reporting back to her employer the amount of time she spent volunteering for the library she was able to secure a donation to the Friends for over a $1000 at the end of 2015. The donation will allow library staff to provide more summer program activities for our community. Malissa is a strong library advocate, always promoting our services through Nextdoor.com and other local events. She also supports our library by attending programs with her family, regularly attending Joyce's Friend's meeting, and promoting friend's activities at local schools.
Partners In Reading - Michael Yuen
Michael is a patient, humble, retiree whose passion for adult literacy is contagious. In addition to being a phenomenal volunteer tutor; he is a generous mentor and stellar example for tutors and a dedicated advocate for his learners. Michael created innovative mini lessons that enhance the Partners In Reading curriculum. "Mike’s Mini Lessons” are a valuable tool shared with many tutors. Since 2008 he is involved in every aspect of tutoring and his work has become an essential part of the adult literacy program. Michael has empowered and dramatically improved the quality of life for adult learners from five different countries. His encouragement and support helped them to become more independent, boosted confidence, and enabled them to overcome daily challenges: two learners were able to obtain a driver’s license; one acquired the language skills necessary to participate in the Census; three created resumes; and two secured new jobs!
Pearl Avenue Branch Library - Michelle Yee
Michelle is a quiet presence in the Pearl Avenue Branch Library, who does far more than expected. Frequently, we see her wheeling books from one end of the library to the other. But behind the scenes, Michelle sorts the books that have been donated, determining which are good enough to keep, which should be stored for book sales, which should be displayed, and which should be advertised on eBay. Michelle boxes, stacks, moves, stores, wheels … all very efficiently and effectively. She gracefully leaps in to lend a hand when extra help is needed. Michelle is also gracious and friendly with all of the staff here at Pearl Avenue. We are tremendously proud of Michelle and her achievements, and glad that we can always count on her.
Reference/KPRR - Jeremy Belisario
Jeremy is an ESL Conversation Club facilitator at King Library. With a welcoming demeanor, patience and broad smiled humor throughout his sessions, he puts all of his club's participants at ease and bolsters their courage to engage in conversation, over the topics he has thoughtfully prepared for each session. Jeremy took on the mantle of responsibility for coordinating the orientation and training of ESL facilitators from throughout the San José Public Librarysystem. Jeremy is greatly valued for his abilities and his implementation of new approaches and methods of instruction. Jeremy is highly skilled, dedicated and dependable and respected by both participants and library staff members.
Rosegarden Avenue Branch Library - Michelle Boor
Michelle offers the popular "Signing with Babies and Kids" program at Rosegarden Branch Library twice each month. As a mother Michelle learned sign language to use as a communication tool with her children before they were able to speak and has faithfully delivered the program for over one and a half years. Staff and participants commend her for professionalism and engaging interaction with kids. Michelle's sessions are regularly attended by upwards of 60 participants who gain an extensive array of vocabulary that enables them to communicate with babies to supplement speech. Participants report that they learn a lot and have fun too!
Seven Trees Branch Library - Calvin Nguyen
Calvin has been volunteering at Seven Trees Branch Library almost since the time that the library reopened in 2013. He teaches a citizenship class every Saturday. Calvin’s longstanding commitment and dedication in serving the community is truly inspiring. He embodies the best aspects of a volunteer: passion, enthusiasm, and tenacity. The few times of the year Calvin is not available, he makes sure all the students are aware of his absence and makes extra arrangements on his own personal time to assist those that have an upcoming test or interview.
Tully Community Branch Library - Carolyn and Melvin Johnson
The Johnsons are a husband and wife team who volunteers at the Tully Community Branch Library for the Friends of the Library. They have been volunteering for more than four years. The Johnsons have graciously given countless hours of their time on a weekly basis sorting books, helping with book sales, and assisting at various activities. The Johnsons facilitated several events at the library, at least one of them is always present working at a fast pace serving customers with refreshments, crafts, or free books, always with a welcoming smile.
Vineland Branch Library - Kathie Pankratz
Kathie is a member of Vineland Branch Library's Friends of the Library organization since 2012. She served on the board as Vice President for two years, and currently serves as Treasurer. She attends all meetings, often accompanied with her delightful snicker doodle treats! She is an essential part of the Friends group, serving in many capacities and covering any duties that need attention. She works in the Book Nook helping to sort and display the books. She helps several days a week to sort and shelve, and is the main sorter of our children’s books. Kathie keeps the work room organized and makes improvements where needed and does it all with a big smile and a cheerful attitude.
West Valley Branch Library - Atsuko Dokko and Hiromi Kojima
Atsuko and Hiromi co-manage a weekly Japanese/English storytime at West Valley Branch Library. They both travel some distance to volunteer, arriving early to prep for this fun and well-received bilingual storytime. During 2015 their attendance numbers have grown substantially, currently averaging 40-50 attendees. The storytimes are relaxed, creative, organized, appropriate for their designated audience (toddlers), and very fun! As the only Japanese/English storytime offered in the San José Public Library system, this program has attracted Japanese families from near and far, offering each family a chance to freely converse and network with each other. Atsuko and Hiromi bring positive energy, welcoming smiles, and creativity to their weekly program.
Willow Glen Branch Library - Amy Fowler
Amy is the leader of Willow Glen Branch Library’s ESL Conversation Club. Meeting on Thursday afternoon for three years running; the Club is one of Willow Glen Library’s longest running volunteer programs. Amy’s students come from different backgrounds and she has a steady stream of new attendees showing up. Amy uses cards, games, maps and real world simulations to increase Conversation Club member’s English language familiarity. The club meets in the Group Study Room where they are engaged and occasionally chuckling at some funny story one of the participants or Amy has told. The attendees understand the Library’s function better and seem to be better prepared to participate in the vigorous professional atmosphere in San Jose.
Youth Services - Manju Shahi
Manju started volunteering in the Children’s Room in April of 2015 as an Adult Maintenance Volunteer. She was assigned shelf reading of the Juvenile 500s, which is one of the most popular Dewey numbers for children to browse so, of course, it is always in disarray. Manju took the assignment to heart and diligently shelf reads it each week. Manju hardly misses a shift, and if she does, she always makes time up on another day. She now does the 500s and 600s! Manju expressed an interest in our Reading to Children Program. She ran a school in her native country and missed teaching children. Manju is now one of our best Reading to Children volunteers, reading to children on Saturdays. Manju’s love of books is so apparent and enjoys reading to the children and they enjoy her story times.