2024 Volunteers of the Year – Branches A-B

Almaden Branch Library – Jane Clear

Jane Clear began volunteering at the original Almaden Branch in 2003. During construction of the new building, Almaden Branch staff were reassigned to Vineland and Jane moved along with them. She volunteered at several locations before returning to the new Almaden Branch in 2014 where she has helped with a wide variety of projects. Her attention to detail and reliability has meant that the Almaden Branch staff could depend on her for many things. Jane is departing because her husband has retired, and they are returning to England to be with family.

Get to know a little about Jane:

  • My first job… was working for the university in a physics laboratory.
  • My biggest challenge… was growing up in England and dealing with the peculiarities of language and life in the US for the past 25 years.
  • My favorite books… are the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat books.

Alviso Branch Library – Shaurya Sharma

Shaurya Sharma is a high school sophomore who is passionate about sharing his knowledge of computer hardware and software; in the form of a popular program titled Computer Hardware Workshop: Basics of A Computer and How to Build One! Shaurya facilitates the workshop and provides the equipment for hands-on learning. Shaurya’s program has been one of the best program offerings Alviso has had in the past year and young participants look forward to learning more!

Get to know a little about Shaurya :

  • My role model... is my older sister who did a similar program in high school as well as supporting/tutoring students with debate and college applications, focusing on students in the Alviso area. She inspires me to help our community.
  • My community... in the Alviso area is a great place to connect with kids, students, and like-minded individuals where people feel safe to ask questions and be curious.
  • Libraries are... hubs for community members with different interests. I brought my program to the library to help cultivate and inspire an interest in how computers work. The library felt like a great place to meet people who were interested in this topic.

Bascom Branch Library – Nik Gohain

Nikhil’s dedication to the Bascom community is unmatched. Throughout the past year, Nik has become a recognizable friendly face not only to the people who seek his guidance, but also library regulars and staff. As a tech tutor, Nik has empowered people to become more comfortable with technology through both one-on-one tech assistance and Digital Skill Building classes. Nik’s flexibility, thoughtfulness, and ongoing commitment create various opportunities for patrons to grow their computer skills and learn to navigate online spaces in ways that better meet the needs of an increasingly diverse digital world. The Bascom community and Bascom Library staff are thankful for Nik’s contribution and his invaluable service to the community.

Get to know a little about Nik:

  • As a child... I was shy and had difficulties speaking in public. Over the years I have overcome this fear and my parents have played an important part in shaping my personality.
  • If I had a superpower, it would be... teleportation. As I am a long way from home, moving to different geographical locations in seconds will be handy.
  • I volunteer... to help people and to make the best use of my free time. It is something I look forward to and will be continuing moving forward.

Berryessa Branch Library – Prasanna Vengadam

Berryessa Branch Library nominates Prasanna Vengadam for Volunteer of the Year. She first joined their Friends of the Library group in 2018, and shortly after, started volunteering as an ELL Conversation Club Facilitator in 2019. She continuously displays patience, empathy, and adaptability while maintaining a welcoming and respectful environment for her learners. She is also dependable and always comes into the library with a smile on her face. Prasanna has made such a positive impact in the Berryessa community, and we are so proud to have her as a volunteer.

Get to know a little about Prasanna :

  • My fondest memory... I have happy memories from when I first volunteered with Boy Scouts of America’s Exploring Program in Boston decades ago. It was fun to inspire young people about life goals. That lit up the spirit of volunteering in me, and I’ve never stopped since.
  • My community... starts with my family and grows larger to include my temple, great neighbors, awesome people I work with, all the lovely people I get to serve, and everyone who makes my city a great place to live.
  • Libraries are... like a bus station, train station, and airport put together. They’re a hub where children journey into their childhood, tweenhood, and adolescence. Everybody is trying to get somewhere with the help of the library!

Biblioteca Latinoamericana Branch Library – Tatiana Avila

Tatiana is responsible for facilitating Biblioteca Latinoamericana’s Preparación Para Examen de Ciudadanía program. Tatiana creates the study material and keeps it up to date. She also cultivates and fosters relationships with patrons who trust and confide in her. Citizenship can be a sensitive topic, so Tatiana’s ability to maintain good rapport with patrons is vital to the success of her program. A program like this was something that the community had been asking for. Because of Tatiana, Biblioteca Latinoamericana is able to offer this program to their predominately Spanish- speaking community, especially to the senior citizens, as they are the target demographic.

Get to know a little about Tatiana:

  • As a child... I grew up in Colombia with parents who always gave me a loving and caring environment. Very close to my mom, who I think definitely shaped the person who I am. I’m also very close to my sister, we are just two years apart, so we were and to this day are best friends.
  • I am most proud of... what I’ve been doing with my kids. Taking the time off, a sidestep from my professional life to dedicate my full time to them in their very first years of life. I’ve been very lucky to do that and I’m also proud that I decided to do it, offering all I have to them.
  • If I had a superpower, it would be... to actually make every human on earth become a truly compassionate individual. I feel that compassion and really feeling for others, changes so many things in how you relate to people from different communities, countries, religions, thoughts, etc. I think the most sad and difficult things in the world happen because people do not understand where the other is coming from.