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Imagination Library
Winter 2022 Magazine
DML Careers
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Thank you to our Volunteers

Our volunteers are Wonderful! Meet just a few of the many amazing volunteers that gathered to celebrate during the annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon! Want to volunteer at DML? Apply online today!

Volunteer Spotlight: Holly Wehmeyer

Holly Wehmeyer moved to the Dayton area in the summer of 2019 from the Capital District in upstate New York. She and her partner signed up for Library cards right away at the Kettering-Moraine Branch, which is where she discovered the Talk Tables program and thought of it as good a volunteer opportunity.

Volunteer, Holly WehmeyerAs an ESL teacher at a local university, Holly wanted to get involved in the community and work with international students. She led a Talk Table for several months before the pandemic and was eager to volunteer again when the program was offered virtually in January 2021. Holly was ahead of the curve because she already had a good home office setup and worked remotely for her job.

The new virtual interface for Talk Tables allowed people to connect from home and use breakout rooms for one-on-one conversations, but Holly is still looking forward to resuming in-person meetings in January 2022. She emphasizes that most Talk Tables Volunteers are not teachers and that working with ESL college students is different. The Library’s Talk Tables program is not a class with expectations of attendance or coursework. Participants are more interested in navigating the post office than academic English. Holly calls Talk Tables “chatting with a purpose,” and she enjoys the unstructured, friendly environment. “I love volunteering with Talk Tables because it’s a way for me to give back and help new members of the community make connections and start their new life,” she says.

After working in publishing and marketing for many years, Holly went back to school to get an MA in TESOL. “I wanted to do something more service-oriented instead of primarily helping other people make money. I really do love helping students,” Holly explains.

She has enjoyed returning to in-person classes this fall, but she’s also glad that the holiday break has begun – it leaves her time to finally read a stack of books. She reads mostly mysteries and some speculative fiction, including a fantasy novel she just started called Black Sun. It’s by award-winning Native American author Rebecca Roanhorse, and it’s about a matriarchal society inspired by pre-Columbian mythology.

Accustomed to the Adirondacks, Holly was pleasantly surprised to find so many hiking opportunities in the Dayton area. She spent time during the pandemic exploring the Five Rivers MetroParks and gives them a glowing endorsement. Based on her experience of moving someplace new, the best way she can sum up her volunteer time with Talk Tables is like this: “Sometimes, the best person to help new Americans navigate their new home is a newcomer herself!

Holly shared this selfie she posted on December 2, 2019, promoting the Talk Tables program. Library Volunteers are some of our biggest champions! Thank you Holly!

Volunteer Spotlight: Tawanna Andrews

tawanna

Some of Dayton Metro Library’s volunteers are hesitant about being in the spotlight. Tawanna Andrews is a self-described “behind-the-scenes kind of girl,” and we were only able to persuade her to participate in this Spotlight after describing how it is also a testimonial as to why people volunteer. In Tawanna’s case, it demonstrates to potential volunteers that volunteering isn’t just for youth who need service hours or retirees with free time. Tawanna sets an example of servant leadership and civic engagement that our communities need, and we are thrilled she agreed to an interview!

Tawanna calls volunteering and caring for others “a passion.” When her children were young, she independently took them to downtown Dayton to hand out homemade meals. It’s only natural that when she started volunteering for Dayton Metro Library, she was drawn to distributing lunches at the Northwest Branch.

Unfortunately, she received a breast cancer diagnosis in 2020 and had to put everything on hold for a while. She credits Sharon (Branch Manager), Gail (another DML volunteer), and Amanda (Volunteer Services Manager) for reaching out to her and being supportive during her treatment. She is now cancer-free, and her loved ones recently surprised her with a one-year survivor party.

Since her return to volunteering in 2021, Tawanna has distributed lunches at her nearby Trotwood Branch and has assembled the popular Take and Make Kits at the DML Operations Center. She enjoys the contrast because one task gives her the opportunity to interact and connect with people, and the other allows her to put in earbuds and work independently. The Library has volunteer options for everyone!

Tawanna has worked at WPAFB for 35 years as a project manager the communications. She was also a model for a couple of decades and occasionally still does it for different boutiques. She has raised three children and one granddaughter and loves to spend time with her six grandchildren. She also loves to watch Bengals football and suggests watching Squid Game.

Tawanna’s cancer was discovered at the earliest stage during a routine mammogram, when many people delayed preventative care because of the pandemic. She passes along this advice: “Remember: you can’t care for others if you don’t take care of yourself!”

Volunteer Spotlight: Jenny Berkshire

Jenny BerkshireIn 2020, Jenny Berkshire retired after over 40 years in the health care administration field in the Dayton area. She had hopes to travel, visit grandchildren, and volunteer in the health care field. Like most best-laid plans, however, all this was complicated by the pandemic, until she found an opportunity at the Burkhardt Branch Library distributing meals for the Children's Hunger Alliance.

When she shares her thoughts about the people she's met volunteering, it's visible how much Jenny truly enjoys connecting with patrons, Library staff, and other volunteers. She recalls one patron who had a family member hospitalized with COVID-19 and ultimately died. Jenny, like all volunteers, is mindful to protect patron privacy and won’t reveal details, but she shared that she and Library staff were able to find helpful resources for this person in their time of need.

“I grew up with the idea that you have to give back,” Jenny states. “I'm very lucky, and I want to share my time and other resources. Volunteering is good for me, too. It's fulfilling.”

Jenny has two children and “soon-to-be-five” grandchildren. She bikes 75 miles a week and roots for Ohio State football as an alumna. She's also been an avid reader and Library patron her entire life. Lately, she's been reading books about natural disasters, such as the Galveston hurricane, the Dust Bowl, and blizzards in the Midwest.

She's made a list of places she wants to visit when the pandemic is confined to hardback.

Thank you, Jenny, for nourishing the community!

Volunteer Spotlight: Danya Ghussin

danyaDanya Ghussin is a senior at Beavercreek High School and plans to major in health science at the University of Cincinnati. In order to fulfill her National Honors Society service project hours, she helped to assemble Take & Make kits at the Operations Center. While making the kits can be repetitive, she says “the time just flew by because I was enjoying myself talking to people!”

Separate from her NHS project, she also participated in the meal and snack program at the Westwood Branch Library, where she also handed out some of the Take and Make Kits to children. She wishes more people knew “how much effort goes into these projects,” and she’s impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of her fellow volunteers.

As a result of her volunteer service with the Take & Make kits, Danya has started getting into crafting and artwork. She also runs track and field for school and likes to read. When she talked about the time she spent at the (Greene County) library growing up, she talked about “reading buddies” – but she wasn’t referring to the DML volunteer Reading Buddies program. She was just an extroverted child who would approach random children and ask to read with them! A book that has really stuck with her is Flowers for Algernon, because it's about what people can experience that not everyone else sees.

“It's very important to be nice to people, because you don't know what they're going through,” she says.

Thanks for all your help at the Dayton Metro Library, Danya! The health science field will be very lucky to have you!

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