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Shout-outs from Staff to our Volunteers

From George Mason Regional Library Staff . . .

George Cody, PhD, has been leading the monthly Current Issues Discussion Group at GM since June of 2018 when he volunteered to organize and run the program. In September 2019 he started a second group at Great Falls. 

George spends hours each month preparing for these discussions; he researches a theme, writes a background article, provides discussion questions and moderates the meetings. His warm and engaging style encourages all participants to share their ideas.

George's exceptional commitment to the Current Issues Discussion Group is the reason for its success. When the library closed to the public due to the COVID pandemic, George asked to keep the group meeting virtually. He quickly learned Zoom and we held the first virtual meeting on April 8th, 2020.

Over the past year the virtual monthly meetings became a regular place for attendees to check in with one another as well as discuss current events. The new format helped us reach new participants who could not join the group for in person meetings. Thank you, George, for keeping the Current Issues Discussion Group going in this difficult time.

From Pohick Regional Library Staff . . .

Karen Kutch has been volunteering at Pohick Library since August of 2018 as a Pick List volunteer. She also volunteered to join the Library Buddies program since its inception in May 2019. This program links library volunteers with partners from various Fairfax County Assisted Community group homes supporting individuals with developmental disabilities. Since that time, Karen has met with a rotating group of 3 residents at the library once per week.

When the library closed on account of COVID, Karen volunteered to work with library staff to continue these meetings via Zoom. She has continued meeting with one resident in particular for the past year. Each week Karen, working with library staff, researched various topics of interest to this individual and brought that material to her weekly meetings - to the delight of her buddy! This research included a visual / Zoom show and tell from her own home with relevant objects of mutual interest. Karen worked through various technical challenges with our own staff and County staff at the partner group home to connect with this resident. Through it all, Karen constantly showed good spirit, community commitment, creativity, and perseverance. She is an outstanding volunteer and a leader and model for this program.

From Access Services Library Staff . . .

While the pandemic affected everyone, creating hardships we had no easy solution to, the low vision community was more affected than most. Finding reliable, timely information about safety, best practices, resources and testing for COVID became a challenge for us all and most especially for those with low vision who often could not see details of the provider of pieces of information and determine if the sources were reliable.

The Reston Vison Impaired Persons (VIP) group leader, Sandy Neuzil, stepped up with her team of fellow VIP veterans, to provide a lifeline to the low vision community not just in Fairfax, but across the country. Sandy lined up guest presenters, coordinated Zoom presentations, provided a forum for conversation and sent out regular links to the low vision community to allow them to be informed and supported as they navigated the world of the pandemic.

Working on average 13 hours a month, Sandy acted as the scout for the low vision community, finding resources and connecting our community to them. She has been tireless in her efforts and presents everything she finds in a cheerful, encouraging manor that engaged people across a wide range of demographics. The low vision community of Fairfax would not be as well informed, buoyed and championed without Sandy's continuous efforts.

From Patrick Henry Library Staff . . .

As we all pivoted to provide programming to the community on Zoom last spring, two of Patrick Henry Library's hosts for our Friday English Language Learners (ELL) Conversation Group stepped up to volunteer so we could continue this popular program. Since May 8, 2020, they have gracefully, reliably, and enthusiastically led our weekly group meeting with 9-10 participants. The program fills up as soon as it opens for registration. It has attracted participants who relocated from the area during the pandemic but continue to attend this lively group. In some weeks, they have prepared a handout, distributed in advance, to address topics of current interest and related grammar or vocabulary. We are very grateful for their good cheer, their moderating skills, and their stamina!

From Centreville Regional Library Staff . . .

Sue Tarakemeh is one of our longest-serving volunteers. A retired librarian, Sue was leading an ELL (English Language Learner) Book Club, using the library's meeting room, on her own for at least ten years before the library took her in as an official volunteer. 

During the pandemic, Sue was the first volunteer to step forward and offer to lead an English Conversation group via Zoom. Sue is unfailingly warm, cheerful, and empathetic. She has a multi-cultural family, which makes her very interested in people from all cultures and languages. She brings up creative subjects for discussion that engage the participants and form bonds among them. All the students really enjoy Sue's groups. We are very lucky to have Sue to lead our ELL conversation group, and the students think so, too.

From John Marshall Library staff . . .

Donald Ward has been one of John Marshall's bright points during the pandemic: he was our first volunteer to come back and brave the stacks, eager to help in any way we needed.

Don started volunteering for Fairfax County Public Library in November 2018 when John Marshall reopened after renovation. He credits his love of books and reading for his interest in volunteering at John Marshall. He and his wife have books in every room of their house. Don has spent his time pulling items from our unusually long hold list, hunting for missing items and jumping in for other tasks that have come up. Don has been committed to visiting us five days a week and says he counts his time at JM as a blessing. Not only is Don a huge help each morning, but he always comes in with cheery hellos & enthusiasm for our library. We cannot say thank you enough to Don for all that he does for John Marshall.

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