Judy began volunteering for Dayton Metro Library about 12 years ago, after her son graduated from high school. She started out at the Wilmington-Stroop Branch, and soon Chris Corba, Volunteer Coordinator at the time, asked her to serve on the Friends of the Library Executive Board. Judy calls her fellow board members “dedicated and passionate.” The Friends’ fundraising projects, most notably their book sales, provide support for Dayton Metro Library initiatives and programs.
A native of northwest Dayton, Judy grew up visiting the Ft. McKinley Branch every Saturday with her dad. She shared her father’s love of reading, and was especially fond of Nancy Drew novels. Judy retired a little over a year ago from her work as a computer engineer, but has stayed busy. I was excited to learn that in December, she traveled to the Cerro Pelon monarch butterfly sanctuary in Manchero, Mexico, to see tremendous numbers of monarch butterflies overwintering. She even showed me photos! The journey involved a great deal of hiking, which she enjoys both abroad and at home. She claims to like all the Five Rivers MetroParks equally, and her favorite author is fellow hiker Bill Bryson. She is currently taking a class at the University of Dayton called “Mystery Novels International,” which is introducing her to mystery authors from around the world.
If you can believe it, Judy also volunteers for the MetroParks, Heartland Hospice, and the Kettering Noon Optimists Club. She says volunteering is something she feels fortunate to be able to do, and she has an imperative for potential volunteers: “Try it, you’ll like it!” Some of her favorite things about volunteering for the Dayton Metro Library are meeting great people, experiencing all the exciting things the Library is doing, and seeing the joy on book sale customer’s faces when they say, “All this for $5!”
The next Friends of the Library’s sale will be a combined book and furniture sale, April 3-4 at the old Trotwood Branch Library building, 651 E. Main Street. (The new Trotwood Branch Library, located nearby at 855 E. Main Street, will be open by then.)
It isn’t easy to find Daunte Sanford at the Northwest Branch, because as a General Library Helper he could be nearly anywhere! I finally locate him in the Staff Area, cleaning audiobooks by the Automated Materials Handling System. A General Library Helper’s duties include shelf-reading, shelving, and cleaning.
“I enjoy volunteering,” Daunte says. “It makes me be a better person.”
Daunte is in 10th grade at Dayton Early College Academy, which allows students to earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree simultaneously. He started volunteering at Dayton Metro Library in July, 2019, to fulfill DECA’s required 100 volunteer hours for the school year. He thinks this kind of stipulation is a good thing.
“It gives you time to be involved in the community,” he says. He chose to volunteer at the Library because he thought it would be an interesting and positive experience.
Daunte enjoys listening to music, including R&B and rap. He recently started appreciating jazz after studying the Jazz Age in a college African-American History course. He plans on seeking employment when he turns 16, and one day would like to be a CEO or a lawyer.
“I just like arguing,” he explains. “It’s interesting to see things from other points of view.”
Northwest Branch Manager Sharon Taste says, “It is our hope that Daunte is acquiring skills and knowledge that he can not only apply at school but in everyday life.”
I ask Daunte what he’s learned by volunteering at the Library. Recalling difficult interactions with patrons, his reply is quick and astute: “I’ve learned to be kind.”
When Raveena Parikh moved to Dayton from Mumbai, India, in January 2019, she wasted no time getting involved in the community as a Dayton Metro Library volunteer. Since beginning her volunteering adventure at the Main Library, Raveena has “branched” out to Southeast, Huber Heights, Kettering-Moraine, Electra C. Doren, and West Carrollton. She’s performed a variety of roles such as Greeter, Reading Buddy, General Library Helper, and Special Events Volunteer. She has the most fun when she gets to work with children, but she also enjoyed assembling goodie bags and making buttons for Rock Your Homework.
“I like organizing and production,” she says. “My background is in event management.”
Raveena says that India doesn’t have public libraries, and its academic libraries don’t cater to children. Spending time with kids is one of her favorite aspects of volunteering for Dayton Metro Library, and she is impressed with the children’s programming.
“Here, there are activities and books for children, and small rewards. It gets them interested in learning when they are young, which helps them when they are adults.”
Raveena began volunteering for DML in order to help people, but also to “get a feel for” life in the United States. She advocates for volunteer work in general, and says that volunteering opens doors. She mentions the practical benefits of volunteering, such as working on job skills and filling resume gaps.
The population of Mumbai is roughly 23 times that of the Dayton metro area. Raveena likes the size of Dayton, commenting on the good work/life balance, the nice people, and how peaceful it is. What’s her favorite Indian restaurant in the area? She recommends Heavenly, a recently-opened kosher and vegetarian restaurant in Miamisburg.
Raveena is recently married and lives near the Main Library. When she is not volunteering, she is a full-time MBA student at the University of Dayton. She enjoys dancing because it has “a lot of positive energy,” and thinks it would be fun to teach traditional Indian dance to children as a Library program.
We appreciate Raveena’s positive energy at the Dayton Metro Library!
Since May of 2018, Union resident John Wiltshire has traveled all the way to the Main Library on Monday evenings to be a Conversation Partner for the Talk Tables program. Talk Tables provide an opportunity for non-native speakers of English to practice speaking and listening in a laid-back, friendly environment, and are just one of the resources Dayton Metro Library offers to new Americans.
John’s weekly Talk Table usually has 1-3 drop-in participants. Most of them learned to read and write English in grade school but need to work on their listening skills, which is why Talk Tables are so valuable. John prefers to facilitate rather than lead the conversation when he can, and conversation topics are open.
“One of the most common topics is food,” he says. Participants also ask him about aspects of American culture that confuse them, such as non-Christians mailing and receiving Christmas cards. He generally tries to steer the conversation away from politics, but he admits, "sometimes, that is impossible." For example, participants recently wanted to discuss firearm laws after the tragic shooting in the nearby Oregon District.
John retired from the WPAFB fire department and was also a part-time Methodist pastor in Union. He is a volunteer GED tutor at the Brunner Literacy Center, and also enjoys gardening. Thanks to Talk Tables, he’s picked up a new hobby.
“When I first started, it took about a month for people to start showing up. I’m set up near the Main Library's genealogy area, so while I was waiting I started looking at all the resources and got interested in genealogy.”
John’s favorite part about being a Talk Table volunteer is meeting new people and learning about their background. Many of the participants are from Mexico; some of the other countries routinely represented are China, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Columbia, and even Madagascar.
“There’s a lot of rhetoric out there,” he says, “but when you sit and talk with people, they’re just like you.”
Jade is an 18-year-old high school student who lives in West Carrollton. Her Chinese-American father grew up in Shanghai, while her mother is white and grew up in the Dayton area. In the fall, Jade begins her senior year at Miami Valley Career Technology Center. Her focus is on computer coding and web application, and she would like to be a computer programmer.
Miami Valley Career Technology Center set a goal for each senior to complete 30 hours of community service, and as of our interview, Jade had already clocked 32 hours! Although she will need to cut back her hours once school starts, she plans on continuing her volunteer work at DML. She chose the Library for her volunteer requirement because she loves to read, she loves to help people, and she loved going to the West Carrollton branch as a kid.
“I always liked to do the Summer Challenge,” she recalls. “It engaged me to read even more!”
Jade volunteers at three of DML’s southern branches. She does Reading Buddies at Kettering-Moraine, Talk Tables at West Carrollton, and is a facilitator/greeter at Wilmington-Stroop. She truly enjoys meeting and helping people. “It’s been a great experience,” she says.
One of Jade’s hobbies is playing guitar. She usually just plays for herself, but on a family road trip to Florida she fortuitously found an audience at a Georgia rest stop. “There was a guitar just sitting there, so I picked it up and started playing The White Stripes. People clapped!”
Jade takes her education seriously. “For me, school comes before anything – except family,” she says. “When I get home from school, I start on homework right away.”
It’s obvious that Jade’s dedication extends beyond her schoolwork, and Dayton Metro Library is lucky to have her!