The 2018 Volunteers of the Year

Volunteers of the Year

Every year, each of our 24 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 2018 SJPL System Volunteer of the Year — Kathy Boyd nominated by two of the library branches she volunteers with, the Tully Community Branch and the Youth Services unit at the King Library.

Library System Volunteer of the Year

Kathy Boyd standing in front of book shelves.

King Library Youth Services - Kathy Boyd

Kathy has been volunteering with San José Public Library since April of 2009. At the King Library she is known as a Youth Services rock star, and shares her extensive knowledge of children’s literature and programming with librarians and staff alike. As a Reading to Children volunteer, she is enthusiastic and entertains and educates children with her unique and captivating style of reading. Kathy has repeatedly answered the call to volunteer for special programs, such as the Dr. Seuss Celebration. We are richer for having her in our midst.

At Tully Community Branch, she is responsible for the Tuesday evening storytime. Even after her retirement, Kathy has remained a constant in the library and continued to serve our community. Her unwavering dedication to the library over the years is visible in her reliability and consistently pleasant spirit. We appreciate that Kathy shares her joy of reading with the children and families at Tully to help inspire young readers.

King Library Youth Services and the Tully Community Branch are so proud to choose Kathy Boyd as our Volunteer of the Year.

Get to know Kathy Boyd

  • As a child...
    I read a lot of books (even though I was a very slow reader) and built my imagination.
  • My first job...
    Was helping at a department store during the Christmas break from college.
  • My fondest memory...
    Was my mother reading books to me.
  • I am most proud of...
    Seeing the kids who used to attend my storytimes come back and express how much they love books and reading.
  • My biggest challenge...
    Is finding the time to balance my personal life and my volunteer life.
  • My role models...
    Were my parents.
  • My community...
    Is important to me and I want to support it and help it develop.
  • Libraries are...
    The best thing since sliced bread (and even better!). I wish more of the public knew what a great deal libraries are. Lots of stuff to read, and do, and learn and all for free.
  • My favorite book, movie, or song...
    Although I have had many through the years, right now my favorites are probably the Elephant and Piggie easy reader books by Mo Willems which are great for storytimes.
  • I volunteer...
    Because I want to create a love for books and reading for the children who attend my storytimes.
  • If I wasn't volunteering, I'd be...
    Reading, writing, and petting my cats.

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.

Headshot of Laura Randall

Almaden Branch Library - Laura Randall

Laura Randall is a dedicated Friends of the Library volunteer whose primary role is serving as the Sorting Room Manager.  Laura manages the book donation sorting processes as well as overseeing the training and scheduling of sorting volunteers. This year-round work is critical to the success of the Friends of the Almaden Library book sales. Laura is always willing to serve in other ways as well, most recently substituting as an ESL Conversation Club Facilitator.

Get to know Laura Randall

  • As a child...
    Growing up in Richmond (California), I walked to the library every two weeks to return and checkout books. My grandmother gave me a new book every Christmas.
  • I am most proud of...
    My teaching career.
  • Libraries are...
    The great treasure of any society! Libraries contain the seeds of our society.

Headshot of Suma Manasa Ponnamaneni

Alviso Branch Library - Suma Manasa Ponnamaneni

Suma has been volunteering with the Friends of the Alviso Branch Library for nearly two years. In that time, she has stepped up in many ways. Most notably, Suma spearheaded two successful book sales. One being Alviso’s quarterly Friends book sale and the other at a large, local festival. With little notice, Suma tackled the project with her usual positive energy and initiative. She also provides training for new Alviso Friends’ volunteers.

Get to know Suma Manasa Ponnamaneni

  • My first job...
    Was, coincidentally, arranging books at my college bookstore! I did this as a part time  job while pursuing my degree.  
  • My fondest memory...
    The view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel tower. It was mesmerizing.
  • My role model...
    My dad. I have grown up seeing him and I try everyday to be like him.  

Headshot of Reverend Layne Kulwin

Bascom Branch Library - Reverend Layne Kulwin

Reverend Layne Kulwin sadly passed away on Jan. 28, 2018. His husband Steve Kline was interviewed and provided us with a statement on Layne's commitment to the San José community.

Layne believed in a life of service, in being good to other people and being kind to other people. He was a founding member of the Friends of Bascom Library and volunteered as Santa for the 4 years Bascom Library has hosted it's annual Santa, Cookies, and Books program, bringing joy to families. He was a great advocate for Bascom Library making sure Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Association provided support to the library and Friends of the Bascom Library in different ways from financial to program supply contributions. Layne provided humor to everyone around him, and his advocating on behalf of the library resulted in donations for program supplies and resources to beautify the library's exterior. 

Get to know Reverend Layne Kulwin

  • As a child...
    Born in Chicago, IL
  • I am most proud of...
    Being an advocate for the library and community members. 
  • My biggest challenge...
    Hearing some of the needs requested of Santa from families.

Berryessa Branch Library - John Prindiville

John began by leading just one of our ESL Conversation Clubs, until he recognized a need that staff did not. He chose to fill that need by creating a second Conversation Club designed for beginners. The chatter and smiles filtering out of our small study room as the students practice, is all thanks to John’s passion and dedication. 

Get to know John Prindiville

  • My first job...
    Day camp counselor in San Francisco 
  • My fondest memory...
    As a best man for my twin  brother's wedding, I asked the Maid of Honor to go on a date with me to practice our dancing for the big day. That was my first date with my wife, and one of my fondest memories. 
  • My community...
    Is my neighborhood. Is people treating each other like neighbors and looking out for one another.

Headshot of Cristopher Ruiz Martinez

Biblioteca Latinoamericana Branch Library - Cristopher Ruiz Martinez

Cristopher has been a volunteer with BLA for over a year. He originally came for a service day event, but later returned to be part of our TeensReach group. He is an active LSV volunteer, homework club volunteer and teensReach volunteer. His dedication and passion for helping others have made it him a well loved member of our community. He is a mentor to other volunteers as well as to the young children he tutors.

Get to know Cristopher Ruiz Martinez

  • As a child...
    I was convinced the moon followed me around at night. 
  • My am most proud of...
    Being a first generation college student. I will make my parents proud and help continue their legacy of hard work and determination as well as their aspirations for having a better life.
  • My role models...
    Are my parents. They overcame poverty and had goals set from the very beginning and high aspirations. They wanted better educational opportunities, better lives and they always stressed the importance of school to my brother and I. I am very grateful to them. 

Headshot of Susan Haag

Calabazas Branch Library - Susan Haag

Susan has been wonderful as our branch's ESL Conversation Club facilitator volunteer. She regularly contributes her time, notified staff if she needs to be absent, and is always pleasant, patient, and kind to staff and the members of her weekly ESL group. Through Susan's efforts, Calabazas is able to host a regular ESL Conversation Club for our community, which includes many ESL speakers and immigrants, and bring a valuable and well-received program to our branch. New attendees are always welcomed as the club is a drop-in one and staff has seen regular attendees week after week. Susan also helps our small staff by taking on the facilitator role, allowing staff to concentrate on other duties/issues as they arise. We appreciate her and value her contributions to the library.

Get to know Susan Haag

  • My first job...
    Was as an A&W car hop.
  • Libraries are...
    A golden resource, a treasure.
  • My favorite book, movie, or song...
    Catcher in the Rye by Salinger.

Headshot of Philip Curtis

Cambrian Branch Library - Philip Curtis

Phil has been a wonderful and helpful Tech Mentor at the Cambrian Branch for the past 2.5 years. He has helped many of our technically challenged volunteers fill out employment applications. The combination of Phil's knowledge as a retired Intel employee, his reliability and his good nature has made him a welcome addition to our branch. Our customers are always telling us what an asset Phil is to the branch.

Get to know Philip Curtis

  • My fondest memory...
    Camping with my family all over the country. 
  • I am most proud of...
    My kids.
  • My biggest challenge...
    Is deciding what I want to do when I grow up.

Headshot of Milton Alexander

Dr. Roberto Cruz - Alum Rock Branch Library - Milton Alexander

As a basic computer help volunteer, Milton works one-on-one with patrons who need advanced computer assistance. He approaches his volunteer service with patience, kindness, and empathy making a real impact in the day-to-day lives of the Alum Rock community. This program is invaluable to library staff as it often bridges a gap in service allowing for longer, personalized interactions with those who are confronted with new and overwhelming tech challenges.

Get to know Milton Alexander

  • As a child...
    I was fascinated with music, playing and writing it. Mostly old-school 70's music like Gladys Knight and the Pips.
  • My fondest memory...
    I'm fortunate to have so many, but the fondest one would have to be making the decision to marry my wife.
  • My biggest challenge...
    Not being discouraged by the current events going on in the world.

East San José Carnegie Branch Library - Miranda Long

Miranda Long leads the Summer Math program at the East San José Carnegie Branch Library. She trained other teens as well as adult volunteer Meghna to help out with the program. Miranda chooses math worksheets to be printed out for the students, according to their grade level. This popular program helps elementary school students and middle school students improve their math skills, as well as to meet other students and make new friends. Miranda is very friendly, and gets along well with other volunteers and with library staff.  

Get to know Miranda Long

  • My first job...
    Was tutoring two kids in English on Saturdays. I got the job after their parents had seen me volunteering at the Summer Math Workshop and wanted to know if I could assist their children in reading and writing as well.
  • My fondest memory...
    Going to the East Coast with my best friends as an 8th grade end-of-year trip. I loved being in Times Square.
  • If I wasn't volunteering, I'd be...
    Having a low-key summer with my friends or attending a summer college program.  

Headshot of Tina M. Flores

Edenvale Branch Library - Tina M. Flores

Edenvale nominates Tina M. Flores for 2018 Volunteer of the Year. She has been assisting our branch as a U.S. citizenship instructor and library services volunteer for more than a year. Tina offers a unique blend of personal, creative, patience and educational experiences for students in her citizenship class. Here, she teaches a variety of knowledge and skills useful toward completing the overall naturalization process, including eligibility requirements, interview expectations and an understanding of key U.S. history, civics and government topics. Tina also regularly demonstrates timeliness, consistency, thoroughness and an orderly manner in her library services volunteer work, in particular the children's area which often commands much of her attention and dedication.    

Get to know Tina M. Flores

  • My fondest memory...
    Is growing up in Humboldt County among the redwoods.
  • Libraries are...
    So important historically and socially as a key place that ties together a community. Also important for kids' education and having a safe place to go, as well as local literacy efforts.
  • I volunteer...
    As a citizenship instructor as a way to protest against current immigration policies on the federal level. This is my way of doing something besides signing a petition and it makes a real difference in this community.   

Headshot of Theresa Ngo

Educational Park Branch Library - Theresa Ngo

Theresa’s responsibilities consist of shelving, sorting and inspecting items. She also does special projects for the branch which are discards, replace media cases, clean children computers, weed/clean picture books, In-active list. Theresa does a lot to help out the branch, she helps out the librarians with crafts and programs, she worked at the summer reading table. Her activities merit special recognition cause when she is given a job or task she follows thru with it and does the job to the best of her knowledge. She always shows up on time and very reliable. The impact she has contributed to the branch is very noticeable cause she does the job right so there is no need to go back and fix things. Our collection is also very organized and up to date since she works on weeding projects. 

Get to know Theresa Ngo

  • I am most proud of...
    All my achievements that I have accomplish throughout my life. I am proud that I was able to get over the hardships in order to be where I am today. 
  • My role model...
    Is my mother. She works two jobs in order to support my family. She does not complain about the work she does. She taught me how to be strong and brave. 
  • My community...
    Is filled with different cultures and allows everyone to unite as one. My community has provided me with opportunities to grow and has taught me a lot about myself. Many of us come from different background and we can all be tied in with the community we live in. 

Headshot of Carol and Thom Chivers

Evergreen Branch Library - Carol and Thom Chivers

Evergreen nominates Carol and Thom Chivers, for Volunteer of the Year. They both have been dedicated, hardworking members of the Friends of the Evergreen Library for the last few years. They have spent the most hours out of all the Friends members working at the book sales and sorting/organizing donations. They cheerfully greet staff members and make positive connections with new volunteers. Both have also assisted with other library programs. Additionally, Carol has been a wonderful Reader to Children volunteer thanks to her teaching background. 

Get to know Carol and Thom Chivers

  • As a child...
    • Carol - I read every book in my elementary school library and was very excited when the librarian let me preview the new books.
    • Thom - My 1st grade teacher said that I was "a cheerful little gentleman".
  • My first job...
    • Carol - Babysitting.
    • Thom - Playing records at a ballroom dance class (8th grade).
  • I volunteer...
    • Carol - because I like being with people and I love to read to kids.
    • Thom - to help provide organization and manpower for Friends book sales.

Headshot of Isabel Campuzano

Hillview Branch Library - Isabel Campuzano

Isabel Campuzano is the President of the teensReach Volunteers group. She facilitates meetings, assigns tasks and plans popular programs/events for the Hillview community with her group of volunteers. Isabel’s dedication and passion for community has enabled Hillview Branch to present safer and well attended programs to the public. Isabel is driven, hardworking, compassionate, flexible, responsible, punctual and a fast learner. Isabel’s efforts have resulted in creating a vibrant, highly engaged and fun teensReach group.

Get to know Isabel Campuzano

  • As a child...
    I played with dirt a lot.
  • I am most proud of...
    teensReach because they are always active and willing to work together to create fun programs and plan future events.
  • Libraries are...
    Full of wonders and unknown mysteries.

Joyce Ellington Branch Library - HOPE Services EMCC Group

Julie Cramer is the leader of the HOPE Services EMCC Group. Julie and her group have come to volunteer at Joyce Ellington Branch for over 1 year. Julie is very attentive to the group and very detailed oriented in everything that she and her group do. Julie has a pleasant smile and always says that she is glad that she and her group can give something back to the community every time we thank the group for their hard work.

Get to know Julie Kleis-Cramer of HOPE Services EMCC Group

  • My first job...
    Community volunteer/workshop fulfillment jobs.
  • My fondest memory...
    Is to assist the HOPE group by teaching the member new skill sets.
  • I am most proud of...
    The group is proud of when they are finished a well done job.  Particularly they know that they are giving something back for the community.

Headshot of Hong Wendy Xiou

King Public Reference Resources - Hong Wendy Xiao

Congratulations to Wendy Hong Xiou, who has been selected as KPRR’s 2018 Volunteer of the Year! Wendy has served as a volunteer Tech Mentor for four hours every week, on King Library’s third floor, every Tuesday and Sunday,  since April of 2015. During this time period Wendy has contributed 478 hours of service and has assisted almost 650 library customers. This month marks her third anniversary! Wendy is dedicated, conscientious and expert in providing instruction and assistance to customers of all ages, but seniors are her specialty. Possessing the ability to communicate in both Mandarin and English, Hong has been an exceptional mentor to Mandarin speaking seniors needing guidance on public computers, tablets and laptops. Wendy truly enjoys her work with the community at King Library. Her welcoming smile tells it all.

Get to know Hong Wendy Xiou

  • My first job...
    I was 19 years old and had just graduated from high school. I got a job in a textile mill in Beijing, repairing the machinery and making certain that all ran smoothly. I stayed in this job for three years.
  • My fondest memory...
    Scoring second or third in mathematics in my class of over 200 students. I was able to solve difficult problems in mathematics.
  • I volunteer...
    Because my Mother volunteers at a citizenship class at John XXlll, on 5th Street. She helps with registration, passes out material, etc. I am a volunteer because my Mother encouraged me to do so.

Headshot of Cecilia De La Mothe

Partners in Reading - Cecilia De La Mothe

Cecilia De La Mothe has been volunteering with Partners in Reading (PAR) since 2013. After completing 15 hours of tutor training, Cecilia began meeting in October of that year with her learner, who is retired and needed to start at the very beginning to learn letter names and sounds and how to blend them to form words. This pair has continued to meet for almost 900 hours to work on the basics. Cecilia has assisted her learner in increasing at least 3 grade levels during this time. She is also becoming much more confident. Thanks to Cecilia, they are partnering together to reach new heights. We all appreciate her dedication and her gift of service to her learner.

Get to know Cecilia De La Mothe

  • My first job...
    Was a receptionist at a law school.
  • Libraries are...
    A wonderful place to learn.
  • I volunteer...
    Because I enjoy helping people to read and grow.

Pearl Avenue Branch Library - Connie Scatchard

Connie started as a Merchandizer. It’s obvious when she puts things in order. Now, she also does shifting, weeding, and shelving. Connie started 2.5 years ago, but she is so dedicated, that she even came in once when she was sick. It impressed me that she loved the library enough to volunteer, even when she really shouldn't have. She is always cheerful, and friendly. We know that we can count on her to do a great job.

Get to know Connie Scatchard

  • As a child...
    I loved to read. Most of my summers were spent at the library, picking out books and reading.
  • My fondest memory...
    Traveling. We like to travel, my husband and I, seeing new places and things. We've even returned to Italy and to Paris more than once.
  • My favorite book, movie, or song...
    I have too many favorites to list. I have been reading a Louise Penny mystery. I always look forward to her books.

Headshot of Sunny Friedman

Rose Garden Branch Library - Sunny Friedman

Sunny has been volunteering for the Rose Garden Branch Library since November, 2009. She has been a huge help to the branch and to the Friends of the Library by carting countless boxes of donations up and down our stairs over the years. In addition to that, she also has helped with many book sales which helps fund the various family friendly events that the library hosts during the year. She's also great with helping our teen volunteers get their community service hours by delegating tasks for them during the book sales. Sunny's nearly ten years dedication to the Rose Garden Branch is seen throughout the library. That is why Sunny is our 2018 Volunteer of the Year.

Get to know Sunny Friedman

  • My fondest memory...
    Was taking trips with my family during the summer.  We would go to Gettysburg. 
  • Libraries are...
    Fun. They're a great source of information, and I like to borrow books and DVDs. There are also wonderful programs for children and the book sales.  
  • My favorite book, movie, or song...
    My favorite book is Jane Eyre and my favorite song is " I Did It My Way" by Frank Sinatra.

Headshot of Library Services Volunteers

Santa Teresa Branch Library - Library Services Volunteer group

Santa Teresa Branch staff is excited to announce our Library Services Volunteers group as our 2018 Volunteers of the Year. Santa Teresa Branch’s community loves their library, checking out over 590k items last year. We have been so fortunate to have 31 amazing Library Service Volunteers to help us shelve these items so they are available to the public in a timely manner. Not only do Library Service Volunteers help us with much needed shelving duties, they also help us to make sure items on our shelves are in order. This enables our customers and staff to find the items they are looking for quickly. Their hard work also frees staff to work on other important tasks such as assisting library members with their questions at our Info Desk, developing and providing programs to the community, and maintaining our library collection. Thanks to their help, we can increase the level of services and programming we offer. We value their presence immensely and all that they do for us here at the Library.

Get to know the Santa Teresa Library Services Volunteer group

  • As a child...
    • Kiran - I remember going to the library and looking for interesting books for my classes, and I appreciated the resources that the library could provide.
    • Walt - I was the son of a civil engineer. At age 6, my father went to work on a Saturday and asked if I'd like to join him. The place he was working turned out to be a sewage treatment plant, and in 1946 the stench almost knocked me out. I decided then to become a different engineer, an electrical engineer.
  • Libraries are...
    • Andrew - centers of education. The most important thing for young children is to read a lot. Children who read a lot have a big advantage at school. Libraries are a boost to everyone because they make information convenient and accessible to everyone.
  • My favorite book, movie, or song...
    • Jinsung - My favorite movie is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and my favorite book is The Lightning Thief.
    • Kyle - My favorite movie is Rush Hour, my favorite book is Kindred, and my favorite song is anything classical.

Seven Trees Branch Library - Agnes Mak

Seven Trees Library is extremely proud to nominate Sui (Agnes) Mak as Volunteer of the Year 2018, in recognition of her wonderful support of the library and the community. Agnes has been our Homework Club Supervisor for 2 years, helping young children in their studies and education. She is very kind, patient, and has earned the respect of the employees, her fellow volunteers, and the students she coaches on a weekly basis. The library, community members, and students could not ask for a more dedicated and passionate volunteer. It is for these reasons we want to recognize Agnes and show her how much she is appreciated by everyone here at Seven Trees Library.

Get to know Agnes Mak

  • As a child...
    I grew up without the opportunity to learn a lot of different skills like art, dancing, or music. It is nice that children can have all these resources at the community centers and libraries. 
  • I volunteer because..
    Helping children is the best thing we can do for the community. The effect of putting children on the right track will last for a lifetime.
  • If I wasn't volunteering, I'd be...
    Taking care of my family. It is also good for the community because families are the basic unity of any society.

Headshot of Ann YuHeadshot of Cindy Luger

Village Square Branch Library - Ann Yu and Cindy Luger

Ann is responsible for planning, preparing, and implementing our program ‘ESL for Beginners’. She trains facilitator, suggested additional curriculum, and increases the community’s awareness about library’s services, programs, and resources.  Ann always makes sure that her topic to be taught are organized and well prepared. She comes to library a day before to print and prepare the ‘practice sheets’. She has excellent leadership and communication skills. She stands out in her commitment.   A large number of people are able to learn, and practice their verbal communication skills here at our branch. Ann brought much-needed service to library customers and created a positive impact on the library and the community. 

Cindy is responsible for facilitating our Basic ESL Club. She offers opportunity for the English Language Learners to practice and improve their verbal skills needed in daily life. Cindy leads our ‘Reading to Children’ twice a week. She brings joy of reading aloud to small groups of children.  Over the period of time she has evolved her ‘regular’ group of young participants. In addition, Cindy is actively participated in conducting the book sales on regular basis.  Cindy is gifted with the love of her community. She started as a member of Friends of Library, later she joined our ‘Reading to Children’ team and took initiative to enhance the library services to English Learners by facilitating our Basic ESL Club. She is also our substitute Homework Club Coordinator.   Cindy’s help and her time allocated as our adult volunteer made a big difference. A large majority of ESL Club participants practiced and improve their verbal skills. Children enjoyed and developed interest in reading and listening to stories. Library patrons found and bought books, cd’s, and dvd’s at our book sales. All these attributes contributed to have her achieve special recognition.  

Get to know Ann Yu and Cindy Luger

  • My first job...
    • Ann -  I was pre-school teacher and later became elementary school teacher.
    • Cindy - I was a junior program leader at YMCA.
  • My fondest memory...
    • Ann - Of an article written by my students in local Chinese newspaper about my teaching style and how much it helped them in their learning process.
    • Cindy - Friday night dinners with my family eating fried chicken and potato pancakes.
  • If I wasn't volunteering, I'd be...
    • Ann - Exploring areas of learning.
    • Cindy - Reading all day...I love to be at the library.

Headshot of Pat SasscerHeadshot of Patrick Pizzo

Vineland Branch Library - Pat Sasscer and Patrick Pizzo

Pat Sasscer joined the Friends of the Vineland Library in 2011 and has served on the Board as Member-At-Large since 2016. She comes in several days a week, always with a smile and a cheerful attitude, to check the donations bin, sort and shelve. She is responsible for many improvements, such as redesigning the price lists and tally sheets to make record keeping easier at book sales. She is a vital and vibrant Friends member. 

Patrick Pizzo has been instrumental in the creation and running of two of Vineland's most popular book clubs. For years Pat has given his time and dedication to facilitating the History and the Mystery Book Clubs, bringing more of the community inside the library and sharing their love of books and reading. Pat takes complete ownership of both programs and is so responsive and helpful that being able to present these programs is an absolute delight.

Get to know Pat Sasscer and Patrick Pizzo

  • As a child...
    • Pat - I grew up in New Jersey.  My Mom read to me all the time and as a result I skipped kindergarten.
    • Patrick - I was introduced to gardening by my Dad, my uncles and my neighbor, Mr. Luff. I used to, every summer, read many, many books to get ‘to the castle’ in an annual summer reading contest.  Preferred Rock and mineral books and books about birds of prey.
  • I am most proud of...
    • Pat - Working for 43 years at the same company, ESL.
    • Patrick - My wife… she keeps me grounded (not confined to my room)
  • Libraries are...
    • Pat - Very important! I’m amazed at the diversification found in libraries now.  They are no longer silent and the additions of children’s areas is a welcome change.
    • Patrick - Sanctuary.

Headshot of Bob PedrettiHeadshot of Saroja Gopalan

West Valley Branch Library - Bob Pedretti and Saroja Gopalan

Bob has volunteered as an ESL instructor at West Valley Library for over 4 years. From time to time he gets new ESL students and the old ones go away, but he never has less than 10 people in his group during an ESL session. Some of his sessions have as many as 20 students. His students love his creative classes and the variety of tools he uses during each class. He challenges students by putting them in pairs, so they can sit in front of each other and have a nice and interesting conversation. He is always prepared with instructions and always on time for his students. Bob is a very dedicated volunteer and the West Valley community really appreciates his hard work.

Saroja is a great ESL instructor, who started to volunteer at West Valley Library back in 2011. After a brief intermission she started to teach again. She is trying to invent new ways of exposing her ESL students to realities of life in the USA. Currently she suggested to give her students a tour to a local Fire Station and such visit was arranged with the help of West Valley librarians. Saroja is fun to talk to and to work with. She is a very knowledgeable teacher and at the same time has a curious and open personality.

Get to know Bob Pedretti and Saroja Gopalan

  • My first job...
    • Bob - My first job was packing groceries.
    • Sarola - Was when I became a doctor in India after completing my medical degree and examinations.
  • I am most proud of...
    • Bob - Projects I did in various jobs.
    • Sarola - Rather than pride, I feel deep gratitude for the education that I was able to receive in my life and for all the support I have received from my parents and family.
  • My favorite book, movie, or song...
    • Bob - Too many books to count, movies I've seen and songs I've sung.
    • Sarola - It is hard to pick just one favorite book, but I liked  The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, and, more recently - Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult.

Headshot of Marian Suhama

Willow Glen Branch Library - Marian Suhama

Marian shelves library DVDs and CDs. She also keeps those collections looking tidy. Marian deserves special recognition because she is friendly, reliable, and enthusiastic. Marian saves the staff time by doing her volunteer tasks. Her contribution enables customers to have quick access to the materials.

Get to know Marian Suhama

  • My fondest memory...
    Are family vacations
  • I volunteer...
    Because it's a happy place and I enjoy being helpful.
  • If I wasn't volunteering, I'd be...


When I was growing up in upstate NY my parents worked second jobs to help support their family of six daughters. Dad was a custodian at the Town Hall and Mom (an RN) cleaned the library. My sisters and I loved dusting the tables and chairs while Mom mopped. We loved having first chance at the discard pile! I would like to volunteer at the library in any capacity needed. P.S. I am a retired nurse. Thanks! Tammy Meyer

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