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Volunteers praised for dedication

Key is keeping libraries staff

POSTED: April 24, 2013 12:27 a.m.
Alyssa LaRenzie/

Library volunteer Bunny Salter makes a plate at the volunteer appreciation breakfast.

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As Bunny Salter watched the Hampton Park library construction, she knew she wanted to do whatever she could “to get it up and running.”

The Forsyth County retiree was surprised to learn in early 2010 that the library system didn’t have a volunteer program.

“But I kept going back and being persistent,” she said, “and finally they said they were going to start one.”

In February 2010, a month before Hampton Park opened, the library asked for volunteers to help offset funding reductions and respond to requests of eager residents like Salter.

More than three years later, the system celebrates nearly 15,000 hours donated through that program at its three branches.

Tuesday, the staff thanked the volunteers during an appreciation breakfast, with pastries provided by library employees.

Mary Helen McGruder, who chairs the library board, said the panel initially questioned whether to start the program, but she’s so thankful it did.

“In these trying economic times, as you all know, it’s been hard work trying to keep the library open,” McGruder said. “Volunteers are what has made that possible. We could not be open the hours we are without the volunteers.”

The library has 10 active volunteers and, last year, had 29 people who volunteered at some point.

Materials director Linda Kelly has six people, including Salter, who help behind the scenes on rotating shifts five days per week.

“They do so much work,” Kelly said. “We have always loved our volunteers and consider them part of our department.”

Each of the three branches also has loyal helpers to sort, shelve and help visitors.

At Sharon Forks, Cristie Edmondson said the staff is “grateful” to the work of volunteers like Connie Amero.

“Since day one, she has been absolutely wonderful,” Edmondson said. “She comes in two days a week, eager to learn and do whatever is asked.”

Amero accepted her certificate of appreciation, and was surprised to find that she had put in 148 hours since starting in October.

The process of becoming a volunteer includes interviews, skills testing and background checks, which Amero said was “very thorough” but well worth it.

The library system expects to recruit more volunteers to help out with the opening of its fourth branch, on Post Road, in July. Older teen volunteers will also be needed for the summer reading program.

 

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