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Volunteer Spotlight: Rachelle Namak

by Katie R - 0 Comment(s)

Rachelle is a recently-retired Calgary Public Library staff member and is one of Calgary Public Library’s wonderful volunteers! Rachelle volunteers with “Conversations in English”, a program helping to develop the speaking skills of a library staff member on a one-on-one, volunteer-to-staff basis. Rachelle was instrumental in the creation of the program and has been an amazing advocate since the first matches began in December 2013!

Rachelle’s experience as an educator coupled with her warm personality and wonderful sense of humour make her an ideal candidate to bring out the best in her matches. She uses a wide variety of techniques to get her matches talking, helping them become comfortable in every topic under the sun, from work to movies to everyday life in Calgary. Rachelle has gone above and beyond the call of duty, taking on several matches at two different libraries!

One of Rachelle’s matches has this to say: "Rachelle has helped my English since January this year. She is very smart and patient. I brought up the topics to discuss each time. Talk to her seems to talk to an old friend. She is very kind person and generous. She encourages me to learn from my mistakes. I am so happy to be her student and her friend as well."

Another one of Rachelle’s matches said this: :Rachelle is a very nice lady. She is always positive and enthusiastic, and a true friend. I have learned a lot from her. She has taught me far more than English in our sessions. Every time after our meeting, I have become more confident in my social skills which has helped me integrate into Canadian society. I am so thankful to her not only as my English tutor, but as my liaison to Canadian society. I really appreciate all the time and support she gives to me. Thank you, Rachelle."

Rachelle has proven time and time again her commitment to English language learners, and her impact on the lives of those she works with is so important.

Thank you Rachelle for everything you do!

Kayci graduates from the TD Read With Me program

by Katie R - 4 Comment(s)

“It’s helped me a lot in reading. It’s made me more confident reading in front of people and my reading comprehension is way, way better. I also have the joy of reading now, whereas when I was younger, it was something I had to be forced to do. Now, I can read anything I want, without having to struggle. I feel comfortable with Cheryl. She’s not just a tutor- she’s a friend now too. She’s fun, has good humour, and she puts up with a lot (well, me Smile). She’s patient and will help me through mistakes, and in learning new words.”

Strong, positive (and humourous) feedback offered by Kayci, who’s been working with her volunteer, Cheryl Gibeault, in the TD Read With Me program at Calgary Public Library since March 2009. They currently comprise the longest-standing match in the program. For five years, the pair have met for an hour a week at their community Library, to read together and build Kayci’s literacy skills. Kayci graduated from the program at the end of June 2014.

That’s bittersweet for Kayci’s parents, Corri-Lynn and Brad, who are sad the program doesn’t continue beyond Gr. 6: “This program has been such a blessing and so helpful for our kids. They’ve benefited from good mentorship, found a love of reading, and there’s a genuine connection that forms between the volunteer and child. It’s just been a positive experience for our family.”

Cheryl emphasizes that the benefits flow both ways: “I’ve loved working with Kayci. What’s not to love about her? She’s a sweetheart! We’ve had laughs, and it’s really rewarding to see ‘the light bulb go on’. She’s super-cooperative, and Brad and Corri-Lynn have been very supportive. One-on-one is the ideal teaching situation, in that you can work at the pace of the student.”

Congratulations, Kayci, on all your hard work, over so many years! And thank you, Cheryl, for your commitment and dedication in volunteering with such competence for so long for Calgary Public Library!

2014 Volunteer Recognition Event

by Katie R - 0 Comment(s)

On April 11, 2014 we held our annual Volunteer Recognition Event at the Central Library. Over 500 volunteers, guests and staff attended this year and enjoyed an awards ceremony and reception with food, cupcakes, and music. This special evening celebrates the amazing contribution Calgary Public Library volunteers make to library programs.

This year we also celebrated 40 years of our Homebound Readers volunteer program! Congratulations to our own "Famous Five" — Carolyn Arrell, Nellie Befus, Phyllis Gale, Norma High, and Becky Lathrop have been volunteering with the program since its inception 40 years ago.

Thanks to everyone that helped make it a fantastic night, and thanks to all Calgary Public Library volunteers!

 

A Match Made in Canada

by Katie R - 0 Comment(s)

'I really liked working with Sharon because she helped me a lot if I had trouble and helped me sound words out. She’s nice.’

Strong praise from Brian, a Grade 6 student and recent graduate of the TD Read With Me program. He was speaking of Sharon Dun, the volunteer with whom he has worked in the program since December 2009. As of his graduation date in mid-June, Sharon and Brian comprised the 4th longest-standing match in the program. Matches in the TD Read With Me program meet one-on-one in a Library branch for an hour per week, so the participants can receive support around building their literacy skills from the volunteers, and it is a rare (and kindred) match that stays together for 3.5 years!

Sharon started with the program in February 2009 and worked for about six months with another young reader before she met Brian and his family. She is a kind, caring and fun individual with a wonderful sense of humour and she works hard to connect with and engage her young students in their sessions together each week.

Sharon relates:‘It’s been a great experience for me…I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been very rewarding, in many aspects. Brian’s family has been so involved, supportive and encouraging of Brian. I’ve felt really appreciated. I’m impressed with how much Brian has improved with his reading and self-confidence. It’s been really neat to watch him grow and learn.’

Inju and Kang Chul, Brian’s parents, wanted to voice their esteem for Sharon as well:‘We really appreciate Sharon coming every week and helping Brian. He enjoys the Library sessions with her because she makes things fun. We feel it’s really great that Sharon volunteers her time- it’s not the case as much [that people volunteer] in Korea, where we’re from, so it’s really incredible and we’re thankful.’

Thank you, Sharon, for all the amazing help you’ve provided to Brian in the TD Read With Me program! Best of luck to you in junior high, Brian!

Pictured above: Volunteer Sharon Dun, Learner Brian, and parents Inju and Kang Chul

Learning Advantage and the Gift of Giving

by Katie R - 0 Comment(s)

Volunteers with the Calgary Public Library's Learning Advantage program provided learner Peter Sang with one-on-one coaching to improve his English skills and achieve his goals.

"As an adult learner with low English skills there was a huge gap between what I learned back home and the expectations here in Canada. English was the most difficult subject for me and I never thought I would pass.

After getting one-on-one coaching from Learning Advantage volunteers for almost two and a half years, my English improved significantly. I passed the English 30-1 diploma exam. I am motivated and positive about the future. I’m proud to say that I successfully completed my high school upgrading and I am now eligible to enroll in SAIT and Mount Royal.

My volunteers’ great work inspires me to help people. It is important to help my Canadian community and my people back home. I also want to be a good role model to my children, teaching them the gift of giving. I can’t wait to give back to the country that welcomed me and my family with open arms." - Peter Sang

Pictured: Volunteer Alex Burton and learner Peter Sang

Resume Tips from a Career Coach

by Katie R - 0 Comment(s)

Given that the average Canadian changes jobs a minimum of 8 times in their lifetime, there is always a need to keep resumes sharp and ready to go. Resumes need to be flexible, adaptable, and able to meet the demands of each new opportunity.

This might help explain the steady growth of the Calgary Public Library’s Career Coaching program, now running at five locations throughout the City. The volunteers are a stellar and experienced group, drawing from years of experience in industry and non profits. The Central Library’s Thursday evening sessions have been going for more than 10 years, and I spoke with one of our newest additions to the team and asked Jillian to share her thoughts and a bit of wisdom:

Jillian, you have been volunteering now for over a year with the Library’s Career Coaching program. What attracted you to the position and why did you decide to volunteer?

I initially applied to be a Career Coach in order to find a volunteer opportunity that would utilize my skills in a setting where I could really be hands on. After a few sessions the CPL program quickly became something that I looked forward to on a monthly basis. The program reaches various demographics of customers who are so grateful for the assistance given in finding meaningful employment. The coaches, Library staff and participants are an incredible group of people to work with.

What is the one piece of advice for job searchers who are trying to make their resumes stand out from the rest?

Keep your resume professional and as relevant to the job posting as possible. The screening process isn’t always completed by the direct manager, so it is important to customize your resume to match key skills and words in the job posting. This will give you a better chance of having it selected during the process. If you’re under qualified, try to highlight any transferable skills you’ve attained in previous jobs, school or volunteer positions in your profile.

Jillian, we have had questions from customers about creating YouTube video promotionals or video resumes about themselves, to help showcase who they are. In your role as a Human Relations Generalist with private and public industry experience, have you ever come across this, or would you recommend it?

I’ve come across it a few times and I would only recommend it if the applicant understood that this type of application aligned with the organizations hiring practices. For more creative and progressive companies this style might catch a hiring manager’s interest. It’s important to have your first impression come across as being professional while not relying too heavily on gimmicks to differentiate your application from others.

What one resume book would you recommend to job searchers?

Best Canadian Resumes and Best Canadian Covers Letters is a great series!

Any parting words?

My general advice for all of these activities is to use the services from this program. Having a resume critiqued, going through a mock interview and getting advice from a Coach will give the best feedback customized for that person.

- Jillian was interviewed by Roberta Kuzyk-Burton, the Library’s Community Learning Advocate for Careers at the Central Library

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