Beth, Columbine Library

JCPL's Volunteer of the Month for June 2024

If you spend time at Columbine Library, chances are you already recognize Beth. 

Beth has become a fixture at the Columbine Library — accumulating over 650 hours of volunteer service since joining the team two years ago. Her normal task is pulling holds for patrons. While volunteer shifts are normally two hours long, Beth often stays beyond her scheduled time to make sure everything on her to-do list is complete. 

"My mom used to make me finish my meal: If you take it, you have to eat it," Beth says with a laugh. "Now, if I take a page of books to pull — or 10 pages of books to pull — I have to finish it!"

Luckily, Beth enjoys her duties at JCPL. 

"I love pulling the books!" she says. "To me, it's just like an adventure park. I have the time, and I love books, so here we are." 

Beth retired from her job as a middle school educator seven years ago. Though she taught many subjects, her favorite was science.

"I had over 2,000 books in my classroom library," Beth recalls, "and that's just the fiction!"

Beth's library and her love of books often inspired her students to read more. They would notice her laughing while reading a passage during quiet study time and ask to borrow the book next.

Before her career in teaching, Beth was in the Air Force. Military service is an integral part of her family history: her great-grandfather, grandfather and father all served in the Air Force. Now, her adult son serves. 

Beth's time in the military gave her an appreciation for her country and the opportunity to travel the world.

"I've been to all 50 states and 49 countries," she says. "Everyone in my family has been a traveler."

It's hard for Beth to narrow down a favorite place she has visited or lived. "Washington State is beautiful — some people complain about the rain, but I'm used to it because I was born in England," Beth explains. "The hiking is wonderful — you can hike everywhere."

Germany and France are two more favorites: "I lived in Germany but would take the train to France and bike all over. People would let us camp in their vineyards, or they would invite us into their homes. We would practice speaking French, and they would practice speaking English. I know seven languages and sometimes would try speaking all of them in our conversations." 

Beth's son shares her adventurous spirit. Though Beth was constantly busy as a single parent with a teacher's schedule, she always found time for them to go on journeys. She recalls looking at a map together to plan a trip to visit family in Bozeman, Montana, when her son was a young teen. 

"While we're there, we might as well visit Canada," her son had said, holding his fingers about an inch apart on the map. "It's only this far away!" 

Always game, Beth added time to their trip to tour several Canadian cities, stopping to watch hockey at each destination.

But Beth's path through life hasn't been easy. She shared another memory from her son's childhood that is etched in her mind: "My son's birthday is in December, and I always planned a big party for him. One year, I was feeling tired and sick and couldn't manage it, so we had pizza at home. I made a doctor's appointment, and the day after Christmas, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given 21 days to live. Twenty-two years later, here I am."

Beth still undergoes treatments for cancer, and it affects her both physically and mentally every day. Despite this, she delights in all the things she is able to do — including her volunteer work at Columbine.

"We always look forward to seeing Beth on the days she volunteers," Columbine page Paula says. "She has a positive attitude and always has something fun to say. We smile a lot when she's around!"

We are so grateful you spend your free time with us, Beth!