About 30 local residents convened at the Potomac Library on Thursday night for the annual volunteer appreciation party. They socialized, feasted on pizza, salad and ice cream, and heard remarks from local politicians Del. Jean Cryor (R-15) and Sen. Rob Garagiola (D-15).
The library named Caroline Brown “Volunteer of the Year” for her four years of dedicated service. Brown first moved to Potomac in the late 1950s. She relocated to the District for about ten years, but moved back to Potomac again by the mid-70s.
“I volunteered after my husband died four years ago,” said Brown. “It was really a lifesaver for me. I was able to do something worthwhile and get my mind off of myself.”
“Caroline is so faithful and comes every week,” said library manager Nancy Benner. “We look forward to seeing her and having a lot more laughs.”
Gladys Hertzberg was named book sales volunteer of the year, and Andy Zheng, a junior at Mongtomery Blair High School, was named student volunteer of the year. Cryor presented each with a signed certificate from the General Assembly.
“We have wonderful members [in the General Assembly], but none as wonderful as you,” said Cryor to Zheng. “So when you get older, run for office and join us.”
DIANA GREEN AND Jack Galuardi were also honored at the volunteer appreciation party. They received an award from the National Association of Counties several months ago for creating a “Conversation Club” program to help people with basic English fluency improve their language skills. Galuardi said his group of 12-18 students at the Potomac Library includes residents from China, Korea, Japan, Chile, El Salvador, Russia and Ukraine. He noted that some are post-doctorate workers at NIH.
Galuardi, a Potomac resident since 1958, said that the most satisfying part of the work is “helping people out, and having them come back and feel welcome here and welcome to the U.S.”
“I tell them the story of who we are as a country, and how our government is organized,” he continued. “They usually don’t get that in ordinary, everyday conversation.”
With the help of 55 trained volunteers, 82 Conversation Club sessions are now held each month throughout the county, including a class taught by Green and Galuardi at the Potomac Library every Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. The program serves approximately 1,000 people per month.