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National Volunteer Week: Barbara Campbell

After moving around the world for four decades as an ESL teacher and wife of a Canadian diplomat, Barbara Campbell knows how difficult it can be for women to in a foreign country to find time for themselves.

“I know for myself, moving every three or four years, you think of your children first, then your husband, and you think of yourself last – maybe after a year or so,” she says.

That’s why she knew a volunteer opportunity as a leader of an English Conversation Circle for Women was the right place for her.

Barbara is one of the 453 library volunteers who donated 10,585 hours of their time in 2016.

“You see a lot of happiness, you see budding friendships.”

The English Conversation Circle for Women at Central Library was originally created to help Syrian women who came to Waterloo Region in 2016, and includes child-minding services so that mothers can bring their children.

It’s now quite a large group that meets every week, and includes women from lots of different backgrounds, including some who have moved here while their spouses attend school. Some of the women have been here for 14 years, some arrived just a few months ago.

“It’s a large group, with language levels all over,” Barbara says. “You see a lot of happiness, you see budding friendships. People are free to voice their frustrations. They have time to think of themselves and they realize how lonely they are.”

Barbara, who is one of two group leaders who works with three volunteer assistants, says she likes to present a newsworthy or culturally relevant topic, then give the women vocabulary words and common idioms. Recently, they’ve discussed the arrival of spring, maple syrup, Easter, bullying, and the pros and cons of backyard chickens.

Barbara also likes to help the women practise pronunciation, because the English language is driven by emphasis on certain syllables, unlike Japanese or French, for instance. Frustrated by being misunderstood, the women have steadily improved with two or three sessions of learning how to stress syllables.

“I saw a lot of eyes brightening,” she says.

But perhaps more importantly, this is a place where women can connect with others in the community in a friendly, social environment.

“Many of the women have children in school and this is their first opportunity to get out. They call it ‘my time,’ and it’s fun to see,” Barbara says.

We’d like to thank Barbara and the other 452 library volunteers who use their experiences and skills to make our community a stronger place!

Learn more about ESL resources at Kitchener Public Library

Find out about volunteer opportunities


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National Volunteer Week: Allana and Jessa

Allana Villabroza and Jessa Adloc are relatively new to Canada, but they’re already stepping up and making a big difference in our community.

Both of these young women are originally from the Philippines. Allana, 19, moved here two years ago, and Jessa, 17, moved here just nine months ago. Now they volunteer their time at Central Library, working with kids in Grades 4 to 8 who are learning computer science skills with Google CS.

Allana says volunteering has been a learning experience for her as well as for the kids, and has helped her improve her (already excellent) English fluency. She started volunteering as a shelf reader last summer.

“When I first came here, I didn’t really talk to anybody,” she says. “But this really helps me communicate and socialize with others, especially the kids.”

Allana was the one who suggested that Jessa, a fellow student at Eastwood Collegiate Institute, also volunteer at the library.

“I like hearing the kids ask questions and learning new things,” Jessa says.

Emily McLaughlin, senior library assistant and programmer, says Alanna and Jessa are problem solvers and role models in her Google CS programs.

“The girls are new to coding, but that didn’t slow them down,” she says. “To make solving problems easier, Alanna and Jessa asked to have the course code so they could work ahead of the class, and used their phones to compare the code they created in their own projects with the kids’ code to help them debug their work.

“Jessa and Alanna are always there to give the kids applause and high fives, and award them their badge for the week.”

After they graduate from Eastwood, Alanna hopes to go to Conestoga College to become a respiratory therapist, while Jessa wants to attend University of Waterloo for a degree in biochemistry.

They both miss family and the tropical weather back in the Philippines (“I hate snow,” Jessa says) but they’re beginning to feel like Canada is their home.

“I’ll go to the Phillipines for vacation, but I think my life is here now, and my future,” Alanna says.

Thank you both for volunteering with Kitchener Public Library, and making a difference in your community!

Jessa Adloc’s  recommended reads:


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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.

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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.

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New goals for 2016? We can help!

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So it’s a new year, and you’ve got plans and goals, and things you want to do and achieve and BE. Let’s not call them resolutions, because research suggests that only about 8 per cent of people stick to them.

I think you’re perfect just the way you are! But if you want to try something new in 2016, we can help. And remember, all of our resources and programs are free. Here are a few ideas:

LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
In addition to books and CDs, we have an online learning program with grammar and speaking lessons in more than 90 languages. No experience necessary, you just need a library card to sign in. Try Transparent Language Online today.

EXPRESS YOURSELF
Join former artist, poet, and filmmaker Janice Jo Lee for spoken word poetry workshops at Central Library, beginning next week. No experience is necessary; attend one, two, or all three. Learn about storytelling, activism, and performance.

MOVE MORE
Find out if Aquafit is a good fit for you. Take a Curvy Yoga class (yoga is for every body!) in January or February. Bring your baby to yoga. Join us for an Azonto Dance Workshop, part of our Black History Month celebrations.

GET OUTSIDE
Borrow a pedometer and count your steps. Come out with us for a few nights of winter stargazing. Join us for a winter hike at the Huron Natural Area.

MEET NEW PEOPLE
Come out for a fun, no-pressure round of Friend Speed-Dating: it’s like dating, but just to meet potential new friends. Like movies, or reading? Meet and socialize with people who share your interests at Film Club or one of our many book clubs. Or try new games and drink free coffee at Board Game Cafe nights.

VOLUNTEER
Share your talents with your community by volunteering at Kitchener Public Library. Or find out if fostering a pet is right for you; you could help KW Humane Society by caring for pets until they find a forever home.

PRESERVE YOUR PAST
Learn how to write your family story. Save your old film, slides and VHS tapes for free, using our digital conversion tools. Find out the best way to organize your files and photos in this helpful workshop. Or contact Karen Ball-Pyatt, our local history librarian, for a 30 minute one-on-one genealogy coaching session.

BECOME FINANCIALLY FIT
Take care of your money so it can take care of you! Learn about budget and money management basics, effective tax strategies, retirement planning, lines of credit, credit reports, and more. We’ve got a finance class that’s just right for you.

There’s plenty more! Check out our website and take a look at our calendar of programs and events. Whatever your goals and dreams and aspirations are for 2016, we can help make them come true.

 


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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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