Nancy Benner, head librarian at the Potomac Library, says there are many reasons to celebrate library volunteers.
“When I first came here, I used to joke that I couldn’t tell the difference between the people who work here and the volunteers because there are so many of them,” Benner said.
Benner was speaking at an awards ceremony at The Potomac Community Library last Thursday, June 19 honoring four volunteers for outstanding service.
Joan Seitchek, 70 of Potomac, was named “Volunteer of the Year,” and had her name added to the library’s “Volunteer Hall of Fame” plaque.
“Joan comes in every week without fail, and we figure [she] has contributed over 750 hours,” Benner said. “We rely on her every week, and I think Joan is a wonderful example of what makes our volunteers so special.”
Seitchek, who started volunteering at the Potomac library in 1997 said she did not really know why she was chosen to receive the award, other than that she has “put in X number of hours.”
Seitchek has been a Montgomery County resident for 44 years and lived in Bethesda, “where she remembers making a phone call to Rockville used to be a long distance call,” Benner said.
Doris Valis, 66 of Potomac, received the “Outstanding Book Sale Volunteer” award for calling up volunteers every week to help out with the sale. Valis said she has volunteered at the library for about 10 years and has lived in Potomac for 32 years.
Head of the Book Sale Judy Davis estimates that 68 volunteers have contributed more than 1,300 hours over the past year and said that Valis was integral to getting people to donate their time.
“Doris is that voice you hear over the phone every week,” Davis told the audience. “And if you can’t do it that time, don’t worry, she’ll call you again.”
“She’s like Charlie of Charlie’s Angels,” said Davis’s husband John.
“Every penny” of the proceeds from the book sale has gone to support The Potomac Community Library, Davis said, and has helped buy a new rug and a dragon for the children’s Rainbow Reading Room. The sale money was also used to give a donation to the Potomac Garden Club, which has helped make up for budget cuts to the library by providing plants and gardening services.
Denise Tsai, an 18-year-old Wootton High School student, was awarded the Nancy Nathan Award for high school student volunteers.
Nancy Nathan was a special friend to the Potomac library who started the deals on wheels cart that generates around $250 a month for the library among many other contributions, said Karin Currie, chair of the Friends of the Library (FOL), Potomac Chapter. After Nathan died four years ago, friends set up the award to honor outstanding high school volunteers.
Currie also credited Nathan with making the FOL the success that it is today.
Tsai believes she received the award because she has volunteered at the library for a number of years and because, “I guess they know I enjoy the work and the people here,” she said.
Del. Jean Cryor (R-15) thanked Tsai on behalf of the Maryland House of Delegates and told her, “You are now and always will be the Nancy Nathan Award recipient.”
Jack Galuardi received the Mentor of the Year award for his help with the Adult Conversation Club, a group that meets at the library to help non-native English speakers improve their language skills.
“Every time I have to explain to someone what we do at the adult conversation club, I have to say ‘We don’t talk dirty!’” Galuardi joked.