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So Pas Library Lunch Honors Volunteers

More than 100 people attend lunch that highlights dedication
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From left, Keynote speaker John Horn, arts and entertainment host for 89.3 KPCC and “the Frame” as well as a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, was joined at the recognition luncheon by his 87-year-old father, Huston Horn, a longtime sportswriter with Sports Illustrated.

Saying a simple “thank you” oftentimes goes without saying. The contribution is so obvious the appreciation is not voiced because of an underlying belief that thanking a person is unnecessary.

On the other hand, when a contribution is so great that the organization could not function without the help, then it’s not a matter of saying “thank you,” but a matter of how significant that appreciation will be presented.

The Board of Trustees of the South Pasadena Public Library said “thank you” in a big way – as it does every year – during its Volunteer Recognition Day luncheon held Friday in the community room.

The trustees rolled out the red carpet for its approximately 130 volunteers that have worked more than 10,000 volunteer hours every year. They work the desk, behind the scenes, do programs, customer service, the list could be extended ad infinitum, according to library officials.

“That’s six years, 24 hours a day, of volunteer work,” Steve Fjeldsted, director of library, arts and culture, said after the luncheon was over. “These volunteers make our library the success that it is today. We could not do it without them. The time and dedication they bring is amazing.”

Cecilia Schwarz, left, was honored as this year’s Co-Volunteer of the Year by the South Pasadena Public Library Board of Trustees.Cathy Billings, assistant library director, presented the award. Patty Lyons, the other co-volunteer, was unable to attend.

About 100 people attended the luncheon that featured John Horn of “the Frame” on KPCC radio as the keynote speaker. Horn is a former Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, and Orange County Register, arts and entertainment reporter. Horn attended with his 87-year-old dad, Huston Horn, who was a renowned Sports Illustrated reporter before retiring.

The library trustees honored Co-Volunteers-of-the-Year, Cecilia Schwarz and Patty Lyons. The Service Recognition award went to Roby Laurence, while the trustees honored those volunteers that have passed away recently. They were Dorothy Mahoney Cohen, Norma LeValley and Margaret Wallace. Meanwhile, Lawrence Clark Powell was inducted into the South Pasadena’s Library Hall of Famer.

Also, the program listed the 2017 Honored Volunteers by the number of hours they contributed to the library. Kay Rosser topped that list with 300 to 399 hours while several were honored for 25 hours of service followed by a massive list of Special Acknowledgements.

The honorees were shy about the recognition, deferring all praise back to the library. As an example, one honoree remarked that it’s an honor “just to be a volunteer.”

From left, South Pasadena Mayor Dr. Richard D. Schneider; Faith Lee, field representative for the 41st District Assemblemember Chris R. Holden; Christian Daly, assistant field deputy for Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger; Brendan Durrett, library trustee president; and Assistant Library Director Cathy Billings applaud Service Recognition awardee Roby Laurence, holding award certificate, third from the left. Photos by Steve Whitmore

And then that volunteer, Roby Laurence, – after offering brief remarks of gratitude from the podium in front of the 100 or so people attending the lunch – said with an energetic smile, “But I don’t like talking up here so I’m going to get down right now,” Laurence said, drawing a hearty laughter from the assembled crowd, as she bolted from the stage.

The importance of the luncheon was not lost on the dignitaries that came to support the event.

“I love these events,” Dr. Marina Khubersian, South Pasadena mayor pro tem, said after the event was over. “These volunteers and their families make what South Pasadena is all about. They make our small town special.”

In fact, just two days before the volunteer recognition lunch, South Pasadena Mayor Dr. Richard D. Schneider presented a proclamation to Library Trustees Alan Jutzi and Uwins declaring April 20 as Library Volunteer Day in South Pasadena during the city council meeting.

Library trustee David Uwins, 70, echoed those sentiments about the importance of honoring the library volunteers.

“The volunteers make it all work,” Uwins said before the luncheon began. “Their love of this library is incredible, and not only do they put in the hours with their hard work, but they help with the finances. It’s a complete package.”

In a time when libraries are struggling to maintain their position in the fast-evolving world of technology, the South Pasadena Library is thriving, according to library aficionados.

In a story published by the Public Library Association on its website publiclibrariesonline, it summarized the challenges of public libraries in today’s world of technology.

From left, library trustees honored those tireless volunteers who passed away this past year. They were represented by family members. They are, from left to right, Kelly Carlyle Wallace, daughter of the late Margaret Wallace; Lisa LeValley, daughter of the late Norma LeValley; and Cassy Muronaka, daughter of the late Dorothy Mahoney Cohen.

It states that, in part: “…  in an increasingly digital world, we see the role of libraries as community and cultural centers at times undervalued, and occasionally under fire,” according to the published article. “When shrinking municipal budgets combine with the nonstop technological revolution, public library services that focus on building community face-to-face, inspiring and educating patrons about art, literature, and music, and helping patrons engage in civil discourse can seem quaint. But it is precisely those shrinking budgets and the onslaught of technologically mediated life that make public libraries’ cultural and community offerings more important than ever.”

That is most assuredly the case at the South Pasadena Library, according to those in attendance at Friday’s lunch.

In fact, South Pasadena Councilmember Michael A. Cacciotti explained it this way: “I come here on the weekends, and the place is packed. People everywhere, families, young people. And the customer service is incredible. It’s like going into an Apple store. That’s a tribute to the volunteers. Books aren’t dead. Not here.”

Steve Whitmore

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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