It’s April, and time again to thank the nearly 400 volunteers who give their time and talent to the library.
For one volunteer, giving his time to the library has also given him something back that he thought he had lost. When a near-fatal automobile accident in 2003 presented Tim Elmer with long-term rehabilitation challenges, he integrated volunteering into his recovery program. Through his connection with Development Director Jim McHenry, Tim found a volunteer assignment with The Library Foundation and the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery. Tim is just one of the library’s many volunteers sharing his story.
Would you like to spend some extra time at the library creating new experiences? We have a variety of volunteer opportunities available. If research is your thing, try volunteering in our genealogy area. Do you like to be around used books? Helping in the Booktique or at the Friends Annual Book Sale is the ultimate bibliophile experience. The Alice C. Sabatini Gallery offers an art connection, and the Homework Center is always busy after school with students needing help with homework.
If you would like more information on volunteering at the library call 785-580-4490.
“A Library Volunteer Measures His Progress”
For returned Peace Corps volunteer Tim Elmer, volunteering comes naturally. And so, when a near fatal automobile accident in 2003 presented him with long-term rehabilitation challenges, he decided to integrate volunteering into his recovery program.
His initial stint in the offices of the Kansas Rehabilitation Hospital proved successful, and it set the stage for more ambitious volunteer assignments. As Tim recounts: “I decided to talk to an old friend of mine, Jim McHenry, who serves as the Library’s Director of Development. I told him that I was seeking a volunteer assignment that included interaction with library patrons. He suggested I work in two areas: The Library Foundation and the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery.”
In working with the Foundation’s staff team, Tim especially enjoys telephoning library donors to thank them for their charitable gifts. Tim remembers feeling somewhat hesitant at first. “However, after the first few calls, I knew that I could do the work well and effectively…The library donors I call are not only pleased to get a call of thanks but are also somewhat surprised that I do not ask for additional money….Almost without exception, they thank me genuinely for calling to thank them for their donations.”
In addition to interacting with library donors, Tim has taken on research assignments. He has studied different approaches to engaging youth in philanthropy and he has conducted research on library foundation websites around the country to see how the TSCPL Foundation website compares and how it might be improved. His work so pleased his colleagues that they awarded him the title of “Director of Research and Development.” Tim recalls being surprised and pleased by this designation. “It definitely helped my sense of self-confidence and self-esteem,” he adds.
Tim’s work as a library art gallery docent adds other dimensions to his volunteer experience. He welcomes gallery visitors and answers questions they pose about art in the gallery exhibits.
In reviewing his experience over the past year, Tim notes: “It is difficult to convey how devastating a traumatic brain injury can be to one’s sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. Before the accident, I had always been a very capable and skillful person. After the accident, I found myself experiencing new, surprising, and unpleasant feelings.”
“My volunteer work with The Library Foundation and the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery makes me feel good about myself not only because I am doing the work well but also because I finally feel that I am doing work that is truly productive.”
“My KRH therapists can see how beneficial the library volunteer work is for me. My cognitive improvement is apparent to them. That also makes me feel much better about myself.”
“I enjoy volunteering not only because I am interacting with library patrons but also because the library staff members are so pleasant and supportive. They make it clear to me both verbally and non-verbally that they are pleased with my work and really do like me. I, in turn, like them.”
“I also like working at the library because it has become clear to me how dedicated the staff is to providing good service to library patrons. Everything they do is for the benefit of the patrons. It is a great feeling to be contributing to these pervasive positive attitudes and the central goal to provide outstanding service.”
“One of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering at the library is seeing the countless number of parents daily entering the library holding their children’s hands. The children are so full of expectations and eager to enjoy the many benefits of the library. This observation makes me increasingly committed to working at the library to help provide some of the many wonderful services to library patrons.”
Tim’s notable progress in improving his self-confidence and self-esteem has positioned him to look toward the future with more optimism. He believes the volunteer work phase of his recovery has given him much more confidence to consider other work assignments, including work for pay. As you might suspect, his many library friends are banking on his continued progress and success.