Community Engagement: The Power of Kindness, Resilience, and Hope

people talking at a table

At San José Public Library we are committed to hearing from you and providing the public with free supportive programs, resources and services. Since 2018, SJPL has been hosting Community Conversations each quarter to gather community feedback, concerns and programming suggestions. Over the years, we’ve heard from dozens of community members whose ideas have shaped our Library service model.

Beginning late 2020, SJPL modified its Community Conversations format to focus on particular themes and emerging issues. Each quarter, SJPL staff will work in district groupings to facilitate conversations, including occasional guest presenters. As part of our equity approach, the Library will also host separate sessions for Spanish-only and Vietnamese-only speakers. This is a Volunteer Away Your Fines event.

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Kindness, Resilience, and Hope (Winter 2022)

All 5 district Winter Community Conversations tied into this year's Silicon Valley Reads Program theme of kindness, resilience, and hope. If you are not familiar with this annual reading event, it is a "community engagement program that features books and an annual theme to bring people together by providing more than 100 free, public events each year in February and March."

Conversation Snap Shots

A total of 51 participants joined one of 5 San Jose City district conversations to learn from guest speakers and each other. Below is a brief summary of each districts event and a few things learned about each communities concerns and interests.

Districts 1 & 6 (3/18/2022)

Speaker: Denise Davis from the Alzheimer’s Association’s Northern California and Northern Nevada chapter

Take aways:

The presenter shared with us the Alzheimer Association’s online resources (at for finding information on the disease, contacting a helpline, determining a diagnosis, finding a support group, and finding resources for caregivers’ own self-care.

Questions about finances were asked and discussed was the issue of how to pay for care and support when one’s financial circumstances are difficult.

Denise discussed the range of solutions available: assistance by family, friends, and neighbors; savings; insurance; pensions; and applying for Medi-Cal financial support and/or VA Aid and Attendance, if eligible. (Financial preparation is another reason for the importance of early diagnosis.)


Districts 2 & 8 (3/22/2022)

Speaker: Sylvia Mau, Program Coordinator at Regional Medical Center

Take aways:

Sylvia conducts outreach to educate the public on the devastating effects of strokes through fall prevention programming. She introduced attendees to a Stroke app for iOS and Android that incorporates all the symptoms and quick dial to 911 and emergency contacts.  People can use the app in case of a suspected stroke emergency.

A lengthy question and answer period was hosted.  Some questions included:

"How long can the recovery be?"

Answered by the guest speaker: That depends on how long the stroke lasted, i.e. how long was the brain lacking in oxygen. That is why Time = Brain. In 1 minute during stroke, 1.9 million neurons or 3 weeks of memory is lost. In 1 hour of a stroke, 120 million neurons or 3.6 years of memory is lost.

"Are hot/code sweats and cramps in the legs things to be concerned about? Are they symptoms of stroke or heart conditions?"

Answered by the guest speaker: Pain in the legs are more indicative of heart conditions, not stroke.


Districts 3 & 4 (3/23/2022)

Speaker: Joanne Santner from 13th Street Cat Rescue

Take aways:

Joanne discussed the on-going work her non-profit is doing to rescue stray cats.  Anyone interested in learning more about 13th Street Cat rescue can visit their website,  They have resources and volunteers that help with the trapping, spaying and neutering, and returning of cats back to their neighborhoods.  A process known as TNR.


Districts 5 & 7 (3/17/2022)

Speaker: Lina Sath and Bikcee Du from Mekong Community Center

Take aways:

Lina Sath and Bikcee Du spoke about the resources and services the Mekong Community Center, located between the Tully Community Library and Eastridge Mall, have to offer the community with regards to preventing mental health issues and supporting the community.

Throughout the presentation, both Lina and Bikcee related anecdotes about individuals they had helped recently through the Mekong Community Center.

Shared attendee thoughts:

  • Asian cultures in the past have found mental health issues to be taboo and therefore not talked about openly and with understanding. Older Asian generations find it difficult to talk about mental health issues even though, individually, they may struggle.
  • Older Asian generations can struggle to understand younger generations’ needs to work on and talk about mental health.
  • Having conversations about mental health issues and providing resources can reduce the stigma associated with these issues.
  • Threats and violence towards the AAPI community is still present. By having open conversations across communities can lead to understanding, kindness, and peace.
  • We shouldn’t be afraid to talk with those closest to us about how they’re doing.
  • “It is important to keep having these conversations. Keeping quiet won’t help anyone. It is hard to open up. What is keeping us from progressing is not having conversations. I hope people can do more and bring peace by learning from each other.”


Districts 9 & 10 (3/17/2022)

Speaker: Humane Society Silicon Valley

Take aways:

Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) is the world’s first model shelter, accomplished by meeting the guidelines put forth by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians. Established in 1929, the organization offers quality adoptions, affordable spaying/neutering, vaccinations and microchipping services, pet care services and education programs to enhance the human-animal bond. HSSV operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are also the first animal community center in the nation to receive Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.


bird in a tree

Spring 2022 Conversations

District Community Conversations are continuing into the year with our next theme focusing on climate change.  You can find upcoming conversations, submit a survey to express your concerns and interests about your own community, and register to attend any future district conversations through the community conversations webpage on the library's website.


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