Every year Jefferson County Public Library honors one very special individual as our Library Volunteer of the Year. This honor goes far beyond simply coming into JCPL for a volunteer shift — they have also proven over the past year that they stand out as an ambassador for the Library by embodying JCPL's mission, vision and values.
Our Volunteer of the Year for 2022 is Cate — teen volunteer extraordinaire at the Belmar Library!
After Belmar's remodel and grand reopening, the Library's Teen Advisory Board (TAB) had to start anew.
After seeing how much fun her older sister had during her time at TAB, Cate was eager to join as one of the founding members of the newly reformed Belmar TAB as a high school freshman in 2021.
Library TAB groups are responsible for planning teen programs, prepping for programs for kids, teens and adults, and working on other projects to make the Library a more inclusive and welcoming space for teens. Cate has embraced this role as a teen ambassador wholeheartedly and has a knack for making everyone around her feel welcome and included.
"I have noticed that during teen events, Cate will always seek out the teen patrons who attend alone or seem nervous," says Teen Outreach Librarian Tori. "She finds ways to make them feel comfortable and valued. Cate manages to bring out people's authentic selves in a way that is so affirming and inclusive."
"I have never asked her to do this. She just does it because she is a kind person who wants everyone to have a fun time at events," adds Belmar Teen Librarian Jayna. "Several new TAB members have said Cate is a big reason they wanted to join."
Cate's natural ability to find connections with people is part of what makes TAB fun for her. Some of her favorite memories as a volunteer include the friendships she's made with other teens who ended up joining TAB and with teens who've simply attended events and gotten to know her. A few of Cate's favorite events over the past year were the well-attended Pride party in June, and the cynically enjoyable Anti-Valentine's Day party, where she and other teens met after the Library had closed to watch "Encanto" and eat candy.
Cate also has a talent for art and dabbles in many creative outlets, including drawing, origami and creating friendship bracelets and other jewelry. If you visit the Belmar Library, you might notice her artwork gracing the whiteboards in the Teen and Kid's rooms.
"Cate brings color and flair to Belmar, literally, with all her beautiful artwork!" says Belmar PX Associate Elizabeth.
Cate's reading tastes are varied and colorful as well — she enjoys everything from horror to fantasy to manga and always has a recommendation at the ready for each!
Cate is eager to learn and explore something new and relishes becoming an expert in a novel skill over time. And the space to grow and get to know everything there is to know about a certain program or event is something she loves about volunteering at the Library. In addition to TAB, Cate has taken on extra projects, including working as a Summer Challenge volunteer, assisting with setting up Teen After Hours programs and decorating our whiteboard walls to promote upcoming programs. Cate also participated in our Rise Above Mural Project in conjunction with Communities that Care to create murals that will be displayed in our Libraries.
Cate never runs out of projects she is willing to tackle!
You might have already noticed that the staff has no shortage of amazing things to say about Cate! So we'll close with the sentiments of Belmar PX Associate Lynne , who was inspired to write this free-form poem about Cate:
She: Is warm, welcoming
Goes out of her way to greet staff and patrons
Super talented and artistic (witness whiteboards in Teen's and Kid's room)
And generally just a joy to have around.
Congratulations on becoming JCPL's Volunteer of the Year for 2022, Cate! We are lucky to have your kind and thoughtful presence in the Belmar Library!