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Polar vortex holiday party

During an onslaught of snow, wind, and chilly temperatures last week, a group of our amazing volunteers held a warm and cosy holiday party at Central Library for the participants in English Conversation Circles.

English Conversation Circles are a great way for newcomers in the community to practise English in a relaxed, supportive, and informal setting. These groups are run with the support of YMCA Immigrant Services and our incredible volunteers, many of whom are teachers or retired teachers.

Volunteers at Central Library planned a party complete with snacks and drinks, crafts, and gifts for the children – a lovely opportunity to talk about and share holiday traditions from different cultures.

“I’m from Bulgaria, so the tradition there is that children will open the gift on January 1st,” said Diana, who minds the children while their mothers are in the Women’s Social and Conversation Circle.

Thank you to Erin Aquin, Barbara Campbell, Ellen Forrester, Paula Kienapple-Summers, Karen Quehl, Gail Wright, Carol Lee, Diana Mileva, and Salma Sohail at Central Library.

Thank you to Romany Arnold, Marlene Burke, Enoc Chevez, Marilyn Dufresne, Shirley Guo, and Vicky Vilayhong at Forest Heights Community Library.

Thank you to Amy Aldous, Elaine Decleir, Jeff Decleir, Carolyn Pegg, and Marg Reid at Grand River Stanley Park Community Library.

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Big thanks to our enthusiastic volunteers, Paula, Ellen, Barb, baby Audrey, and Erin. 

English Conversation Circles return in January. These classes are FREE and no registration is required to attend. Please share this information with anyone who would like to practise English, or with people who are supporting refugees and newcomers in the community. Need transportation? There are bus tickets available (excluding Mondays at Central).

ENGLISH CONVERSATION CIRCLES

Central Library
Mondays from 1 – 2:30 pm
January 9 – Feb. 27 (no session on Feb. 20)
More info

Grand River Stanley Park
Wednesdays from 7 – 8:30 pm
January 11 – February 22
More info

Forest Heights
Saturdays from 10 – 11:30 am
January 14 – February 25
More info

WOMEN’S SOCIAL AND CONVERSATION CIRCLE

Central Library
Thursdays from 10 – 11:30 am
January 12 – February 23
Child minding available for children ages 2-6.
Register only if you require child minding.
More info

MORE RESOURCES

We’ve got books, magazines, movies, and newspapers in many languages, both for children and adults. Learn more here.

Find out more about resources for English as a Second Language learners.

Meet with a settlement worker at the library, available with these languages: Arabic, Dari, English, Farsi, Kurdish, and Spanish.

Find out more about resources and services offered for refugees and sponsors.

 


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National Volunteer Week: Alison Bullock

We’re celebrating National Volunteer Week, April 10 – 16!

Meet Alison Bullock, an integral part of the team that runs French Immersion Tutors at Forest Heights Community Library.

Bilingual volunteers help French immersion students with their homework every Thursday afternoon from 4 – 5:30 pm.

It’s a volunteer position that’s perfectly suited to Alison, who is a Digital Literacy Support Teacher at Waterloo Region District School Board. That means she’s a technology coach for teachers and students, helping them integrate technology into the curriculum. She has a workload of 25 elementary schools, about half of which are French immersion schools.

Alison Bullock

Alison Bullock

“I’ve always been a huge believer in libraries. I’ve always appreciated that it’s there for me, with free books and community events,” she says.

As a child, Alison went to KW Bilingual School, and took French immersion at Elmira District Secondary School. Volunteering is one way she keeps her language ability strong.

“I have to speak and think in French at least once a week, so that’s good to keep my fluency going, too,” she says.

Alison and the other team members help students with specific homework assignments, or use technology to practise French in a more informal way if there’s no homework to be done. And she’s taking a leadership role by training other volunteers in how to use online games, Tumble Books, and apps such as TFO, to help integrate technology into tutoring.

“We’re morphing and changing how we do things,” she says, noting that it’s not always beneficial for a child who just spent all day at school to come to the library and sit at a table for tutoring. That’s why volunteers make an effort to sit on couches or the floor and use interactive learning tools.

Alison notes that French Immersion Tutors can be particularly helpful for families with parents who speak little or no French. For the students, “just to sit and speak, to think and process in that language can be beneficial,” she says.

Alison has also trained to be a shelf reader. During the summer months, she plans to help us keep our French language resources in good shape on days when rain keeps her from the golf course.

Alison, thank you for all you do to contribute to your community!

FRENCH IMMERSION TUTORS
Thursdays at Forest Heights until May 12
1/2 hour sessions
4 pm, 4:30 pm, and 5 pm
Register for each session you wish to attend

Learn more about language resources at KPL
including books and DVDs in French for children and adults


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National Volunteer Week: Sara Falhaufer

We’re celebrating National Volunteer Week, April 10 – 16!

Meet Sara Falhaufer, who volunteers as a shelf reader at Central Library. She just completed the library technician program at Mohawk College yesterday (congratulations, Sara!) and her education, coupled with her volunteer work here, have helped her to get a job at Waterloo Public Library.

Sara Falhaufer

Sara Falhaufer helps newcomers by keeping ESL resources in order.

“I love public libraries and I love how libraries embrace the community aspect. It’s a place where people can gather together, and it’s creative and engaging,” she says.

Our volunteer shelf readers adopt sections of the stacks and go through them on a regular basis, making sure every item is in its correct spot. It’s a time-consuming task, and one that can seem tedious if you’re not interested in the material.

Sara is responsible for the shelves of resources for ESL learners.

“It’s been interesting to see how well-used it is,” she says. “One of my passions is helping people connect with knowledge and resources. Even though I’m doing what might seem like a small task, I know it’s important for day-to-day operations. And I feel I’m connected to my community.”

Sara values her work in the language-learning section because she knows she’s contributing to the larger community, particularly newcomers to the Kitchener area. She’s done this in another way: by helping out the staff in Children’s and Teen Services when they’ve hosted large groups of Syrian refugee children for afternoons of interactive fun.

“The staff have been so welcoming and there are always other opportunities,” she says. She has also volunteered for larger events such as Kidspark and the Genealogy Fair, which sparked an interest in genealogy and led to her attending the Genealogy Conference of Ontario.

If you’re coming to 85 Queen: An Evening with Kirstine Stewart on Friday, April 15, be sure to say hi to Sara – she’s volunteering at the registration desk!


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We’re thankful for: our volunteers

Thank you pumpkins

It’s Thanksgiving, and we want to take this opportunity to thank an incredible group of people – our volunteers.

On October 7th, we honoured their service at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Night.

Because we have volunteers from such a diverse age range, from teenagers who have just started with us, and up to adults who have volunteered for 35 years (!), the theme of the evening was cross-generational support.

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Volunteer profile: Maddie Fielding, Jill of all trades

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We’re celebrating National Volunteer Week with profiles of some our amazing volunteers!

Maddie Fielding is one amazing teen. She’s been volunteering with us here at the library for more than three years, and cheerfully tackles any task we give her.

If you’ve been to any of our major public events, you’ve probably seen her smiling face: she’s helped out at Kidspark, Family Literacy Day, and the Word on the Street Festival, and our community Kids’ Clubs.

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Volunteer profile: Carlos Benevides, Reading Buddy

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We’re celebrating National Volunteer Week with profiles of our amazing volunteers! 

When he’s not behind the microphone at 91.5 The Beat, Carlos Benevides can often be found at Kitchener Public Library.

The charismatic, energetic radio host has been a Reading Buddy volunteer for about two years. Reading Buddies work one-on-one with children who can read, but need a little more practise.

Carlos found his way to our doors through a zany radio experiment a few years ago: 30 Deeds in 30 Days. He volunteered at a different local organization every day for 30 days in a row, sharing his experiences with radio listeners and writing about it too.

His goal was to highlight how easy it is to make a difference, once you’ve found the right volunteer position among the many opportunities available. It was fellow radio colleague and library board member Mike Farwell who suggested he give Reading Buddies a try.

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Volunteer profile: Maca Suazo, shelf reader

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We’re celebrating National Volunteer week with profiles of just a few of our amazing volunteers!

Maca Suazo has a long and deep connection to libraries and literature. In her native country of Chile, patrons were not allowed to browse, but had to request books that were kept in locked glass cases. Her mother travelled by train to access books to read aloud to Maca.

When she came to Canada in 1998, she was amazed first by the five-storey library at York University, where her husband was a student, and then by the Toronto Public Library, with its thousands of picture books and books in Spanish for her daughters.

She moved to Kitchener seven years ago and now volunteers as a shelf reader at Central Library.

Shelf readers make sure our collection is tidy and that every item is filed in its proper place, so customers can always find what they’re looking for.

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