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Helping Kids Enjoy Reading

by Christine Pinkney - 0 Comment(s)

Karen Kost is a warm, friendly, kind and patient individual who has been a valued and diligent volunteer at Calgary Public Library since 2006. She explains that ‘I have the time and I enjoy working with kids and giving back to the community. I also truly believe in the Library. I take out books all the time myself and I would likely be in debt if I had to buy all those books myself’.

Karen began volunteering for the TD Read With Me program in June 2007 (she has also volunteered for the Library’s Homebound Readers and Proctoring programs). In the TD Read With Me program, volunteers mentor children one-on-one to help develop their literacy skills and interest in reading. Karen built a strong relationship with her first little buddy, working with him over a two-year period. His parents were very appreciative of Karen’s work with their son: ‘Ms. Kost is an excellent role model. She is a good helper and excellent teacher. She is a very patient and calm lady’.

Karen and her current buddy, Gary, meet once a week at a Library branch to read together for an hour. Gary comments: ‘It’s been really fun working with Karen. We get to read so many books together and the books are really good. We’ve been reading some of the ‘Macdonald Hall’ series by Gordon Korman, as well as ‘Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer’ by John Grisham. Karen’s really nice and she lets me pick the books I want to read.’

Thank you, Karen, for all the wonderful work you have done on behalf of the Library over the past five years! As noted by everyone with whom you’ve worked, it is very much appreciated!

ESL Volunteers...

by Christine Pinkney - 0 Comment(s)

Angie Cormier is an incredibly enthusiastic and dedicated ESL volunteer in Calgary. Her volunteer work for the ESL Conversation Club at Louise Riley and Nose Hill Libraries over the past 7 years has helped hundreds of Calgarians improve their English skills. Angie fosters a culture of caring in the ESL Conversation Club which makes her participants feel at ease and ready to communicate. Angie truly believes in the library and has an intrinsic desire to make a difference in the lives of the participants. She has befriended participants, going so far as to open her home to a couple from Iran when their apartment fire left them homeless. In turn, Angie and her husband ended up travelling to Iran where they visited that very same couple’s family. Angie says of volunteering: “I am passionate both about the library and the settlement and integration of immigrants, so it is really my pleasure and honour to volunteer.”

Thank you Angie for your dedication and caring.

Looking for Work?

by Christine Pinkney - 0 Comment(s)

Meet Janeen, Career Coaching Volunteer

Volunteering has been important part of my life for many years. I have been coaching through the Career Coaching program at the Central library for over 5 years. As an Human Resource Professional this role allows me to use my talents to support Calgarians in their job search. I have met people from all background, professions and demographics. Continually people show me their resiliency and creativity; reinventing themselves. Often times a client will come to the Career Coaching program having been out of work for many months. It is very gratifying to have that client leave with a fresh perspective on their job search.

Many of the people I help stay with me, however there was one women I think of often. This client was in her early 60's and had moved from the Philippines to Canada a few years ago. She had a very successful career in the Philippines as a social worker; a job she loved. She was torn between going back to school to be a social worker in Canada or if she should pursue her love of cooking and get a job in the culinary field. We talked for a while until until I finally said "Whatever you do next does not define you. It won't take away from your 25 years as a successful social worker". With that the tears streamed down her cheeks. She was afraid to leave behind the career she knew. To step into retirement. I don't know what she decided to do, but I believe I helped her see her next chapter in a different way.

Week after week the two hour drop in session is filled with people looking for support, feedback and guidance. The volunteers in the program find individuals ways to reach each client. I believe this service is invaluable to Calgarians looking for work.


Janeen Scott

If you are a career professional and are interested in helping people job search and build resumes please contact Marian Erb at 403-260-2648, or

Great Kids in our Midst

by Christine Pinkney - 0 Comment(s)

It’s not too often that a young Calgarian gets to shake hands with our Premier. At the Fantasyland Hotel Ballroom on October 16th, Aminah Farzana got to do just that.

Aminah was one of 16 recipients from around the province (and one of just four in her age category) to receive a Great Kids Award for 2010. These Awards are given by the Government of Alberta to recognize youth who demonstrate compassion, determination, courage, generosity, and strength of spirit. (You can learn more about the Great Kids Awards here and watch a video of the ceremony here.)

A frequent volunteer with the Calgary Public Library, Aminah was a natural choice for this nomination and we are so pleased she was selected as a winner! She’s made quite an impact on the world around her already.

Aminah came to Canada at the age of seven. Returning to Bangladesh at age ten for a visit, Aminah was struck by the poverty there. "This experience made me thankful to be in Canada, because although my mom was from a middle class family, my dad grew up in a very poor family. My dad managed to break the cycle of poverty through education, and he inspired me to take education more seriously. Now, I'm a firm believer of 'the pen is mightier than the sword' and I hope to engage myself in a profession that will allow me to give back to the society that I am a part of, and that is part of me."

The Library has four programs supported by youth volunteers, and Aminah has volunteered with all four. She has been a technology coach for young children and seniors alike, tailoring lessons to differing ages and skills levels. A self-described "big fan of books", Aminah has shared this fondness with younger readers. More recently, she has led engaging activities for her newcomer peers, encouraging them to develop their spoken English in ESL Teen Talk.

Throughout her volunteer career, Aminah has had a hand in opening the door to new worlds of education, inspiration, and enjoyment.She has found volunteering to be beneficial for herself as well as those she helps. "The hours I put into volunteering give me a sense of fulfillment because I'm doing something productive by helping others."

Aminah's contributions don't stop there. Active in her school community, Aminah is a valued member of the Social Justice Club. Her commitment to thoughtfully living her values, sharing her views respectfully, and hearing others with the same respect, has made an impression on her teachers and fellow students. Her Social Studies teacher has this to say:

“Over the course of the last two years, Aminah has become an active citizen trying to raise awareness and arouse action in relation to her passion for ending discrimination and prejudice. In particular, she spearheaded and spent countless hours on a ‘Safe Classrooms’ campaign in which she designed, created and then posted ceiling-to-floor posters which depict the various religions, ethnicities, gender and sexual identifications represented at our high school. This visible demonstration against the marginalization of minorities got students and teachers alike talking about who makes up our communities and what it means to be a global, engaged citizen.”

Along with a sleek statue for her memento shelf, Aminah received a new IBM ThinkPad laptop, a gift certificate for her and her family to enjoy the attractions at West Edmonton Mall, and other gifts.

Congratulations, Aminah!!

Kung Fu Reading!

by Christine Pinkney - 0 Comment(s)

Meet Paul, TD Read with Me Volunteer

Paul Jassar enjoys working with kids and, according to my pre-teen source, the feeling is mutual. The tall basketball player is easy-going and calm with a good sense of humour. Currently enrolled in the final year of his elementary education degree, Paul volunteers because 'it’s a chance to feel a sense of community and help out those who are a part of it. Volunteering also allows me to network and meet new people and that is important to me’.

Paul began working with Tony, his little buddy in the TD Read With Me program in January 2009. Tony, a cheerful and energetic boy, hasn’t always been the most enthusiastic of readers and had a short attention span for the process when they first began working together.

Tony is a big martial arts fan, so in some sessions when Paul noticed Tony’s focus was starting to wane after they’d read for a while, they would go into the library stacks to find books on martial arts, read about some of the stances or moves and then quietly practice them together. Over time, Tony’s attention span and appreciation for reading have developed and today, he regards himself as a ‘reader’.

Tony had the following comments about Paul in October 2010:

‘I think he’s a really positive person. He’s a good person to work with and a fun person to play with…a good partner. We don’t always read together right away; sometimes we play games or go on the computer. He discusses about something and tries to cheer me up.

He’s helped me a lot. Now I can actually read chapter books and I’ve improved so much. He helped me break the letters up’.

According to Lieu, Tony’s mom, ‘Paul is really trustworthy, a good teacher and person’.

Paul and Tony plan to continue working together for at least the rest of the 2010-2011 school year. While Tony will ‘graduate’ from the TD Read With Me program sometime next year, the legacy and benefits of the fun and learning he’s shared with Paul through the program will last a lifetime.

Reading Advantage 10 year anniversary

by Christine Pinkney - 0 Comment(s)

According to a comprehensive study by Statistics Canada over 40 per cent of Canadian adults do not have strong literacy skills.

This fall the Calgary Public Library’s adult literacy program, Reading Advantage, celebrates its ten year anniversary. Since the program’s inception, volunteers have helped hundreds of Calgarians improve their literacy skills.

Reading Advantage Volunteer Award winner (2009), Danielle, and her learner, Trevor, share the benefits of the program from both the volunteer and the learner perspective:

Trevor and I have been meeting for 5 years. We meet every Saturday at the library and work through various topics of interest. We both feel that the Reading Advantage Program has given us opportunities to grow. Trevor feels like he has enhanced his skills with computers, job searches and reading capabilities. I feel like this program has given me a new perspective of different learners and their needs. As an elementary school teacher, I am grateful to be able to work with a learner with differing needs and I believe this opportunity has improved my teaching skills. We both have a level of trust for one another and look forward to our meetings each week.

If you are interested in learning more about the Reading Advantage program, please contact Emily Robinson Leclair by telephone (403) 260-2729 or email

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