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Library Employees Recognize Volunteers for Selfless Service

By: Marcey Evans

Guests sign in for "Celebrate Service 2013," an annual volunteer recognition ceremony held at the Central Library.Webster defines “volunteer” as someone who renders a service, but the Memphis Public Library and Information Center defines our volunteers as kind-hearted and selfless individuals who take time to give back, individuals deserving of recognition.

On Sunday, April 21, 2013 Library employees and friends recognized and thanked all volunteers Library system wide, a total of 590 individuals who volunteered more than 34,000 hours. Director of Libraries Keenon McCloy opened the program with a word of gratitude: “You come on Christmas. You come if it’s snowing. We know our volunteers will be here. Today is our day to celebrate you.”

The program, entitled “Celebrate Service,” began with the melodious tunes of Grammy-nominated producer and musician Kurt “KC” Clayton, who played the piano throughout the evening. Following Director McCloy, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton shared his sentiments about Library volunteers, stating that they help to “enlighten” society. “Volunteers are the folks who make you feel right at home,” Wharton said. “They say, ‘Ask me. There’s no such thing as a stupid question. I’m here – not because of a check – but I’m here to help,’” he added.

Mayor Wharton talks to Library volunteers at the annual volunteer recognition program. Among them is 95-year-old former Library volunteer Angela Astor.This help and commitment to service during 2012 had a monetary value of more than $750,000, a figure printed in the event’s program. “The numbers are important, but you cannot put a number on the value of our volunteers,” Wharton commented, while encouraging all citizens to invest in the Library. “A good Library is not a luxury. It is not an option,” he said.

This attitude was exactly what attracted 95-year-old Angela Astor to volunteer at Central Library, since the day it opened in 2001. “When I passed by the big hole where Central would be built, I said, ‘I’m going to adopt it (Central) as my Library.’ And, I loved my job at the welcome desk,” she said. Astor, who attended Sunday’s event, volunteered at Central Library until she could no longer drive. “I would have stayed forever. I’m a professional volunteer,” she laughed.

Keynote speaker for the evening Fox 13 News anchor Mearl Purvis spoke about people like Astor, calling them a “rarified group of people who have found happiness”. “Every volunteer must be made to feel their value,” Purvis said. “Regardless of what we don’t have, we all have the ability to serve. Library volunteers help to change human existence,” she said.

For more information on how to volunteer at your local Library, call (901) 415-2700 or visit http://www.memphislibrary.org/about/support/volunteer to complete a volunteer application.