Volunteer Spotlight: Summer Challenge Volunteers

Volunteer Spotlight for July 2022

The Summer Challenge is JCPL's biggest event of the year. Thousands of patrons log their time spent reading and participating in activities to help the Library reach our community goal of logging 25 million points by the end of the summer. With one point given for one minute of reading… That's a lot of books!! The Challenge also includes a huge number of programs and activities for kids, teens and adults to encourage people of all ages to keep their minds active while school is out of session.

Who helps the Library pull off this enormous undertaking? Our Summer Challenge teen volunteers, of course!

This year, over 150 teens in grades 7 - 12 spent their summer volunteering at the Library, signing patrons up for the Challenge, giving out prizes, helping run events and activities and so much more. Teens have lots of options for things to do over the summer, so why spend their time at the Library?

"I'm a people person; I love talking and interacting with people, and it makes you feel good to help out the community," says teen volunteer Naomi, "And the librarians are super duper nice!" Her fellow volunteer, Finley, adds, "I went to the Library a lot when I was younger and wanted to give back. I really like helping people."

Joselyn and Brielle are twin sisters who often volunteer together. "My favorite thing is when the kids get excited," Joselyn laughs, "We were assembling boxes before one of the kids' programs, and the kids wanted to jump in and help." She also appreciates how welcoming the Library is. "You get to see all sorts of people. It lets you know you can be different and express yourself."

Brielle reflects on the impact of the Pride programs the sisters helped with in June. "The Library is a very accepting community, and it opened eyes for kids in the program."

Some other programs teen volunteers especially enjoyed this year were helping with STEAM programs and Story Time — especially the outdoor events. Teens also play a key role in helping support JCPL's summer camps, which focus on learning new skills and cover a wide spectrum of interests, including mural painting, robotics, fashion design, stop-motion animation and more!

This is an exciting year for the Challenge because it is the first year since the beginning of the pandemic that teens have been able to return to volunteer for the Summer Challenge in person. In the past few years, summer volunteer roles for teens were limited to mostly virtual volunteering. The impact of having teen volunteers back at the Library is profound.

"Without our teen volunteers here, it's more chaotic, and patrons do a lot more waiting," says Lila, patron experience associate. "The teens have been fantastic — everything we need, they are right there."

Teen Librarian Meagan agrees, "We are SO glad to have our teen volunteers back! They make a huge difference in our numbers for the Summer Challenge, encouraging everyone to sign up and win prizes, and the patrons love working with them!"

The next time you are at the Library, take a look around — you'll probably see our hardworking teen volunteers helping families log their reading hours or running around setting up for a program. We couldn't do it without them.

Thank you so much for your help, volunteers!! We appreciate everything you do to support patrons and staff at the Library!