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City Scene: Library volunteers save Sundays

By: Kerry Miller
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What a privilege it is to live in a community where residents are so quick to volunteer their time and talent to serve others. We recently spread the word about a need for volunteers to help keep the Folsom Public Library open on Sundays. The response was immediate and overwhelming. Many expressed interest, and 20 willing individuals signed on to form rotating teams of volunteer docents that will assist staff once a month. As a result, the library’s main Georgia Murray building will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays beginning July 11. If these unselfish volunteers had not stepped forward, the library would have been closed on Sundays due to budget constraints. Library Director Katy Curl tells me that the volunteer docents are a diverse and multi-talented group. Some are library school students, one is a Library Commissioner, and others are simply library lovers who want to help preserve an important civic amenity. They join an existing group of about 70 long-term library volunteers who unselfishly donate countless hours year after year. It is important to note that our new library docents are being trained to assist, not take the place of, our valued library staff members. The docents will work under the direction of staff to respond to basic questions and help library patrons use the self-service check-out system, log onto computers and initialize catalog searches. As a frequent library patron, I truly appreciate this wonderful new group of volunteers and our dedicated staff. This is the second time in the last year that local volunteers have stepped up to save a valued amenity that was threatened by budget cutbacks. Last year we reluctantly eliminated staffing for the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary’s education program. Our outstanding zoo docents quickly rallied to save some segments of the program. They created a Zoo Docent Council, elected officers and appointed committee chairs. Since then, they have conducted school tours, organized summer camps for children, and led monthly story time sessions at the library and Karen’s Bakery. They also continue to recruit and train new docents. The zoo currently has 250 active volunteers, including 45 trained docents. Volunteers also play key roles in many other City programs and services. Our 60 Citizens Assisting Public Safety (CAPS) volunteers donate more than 10,000 hours a year to assist with home security checks for vacationing residents, code and parking enforcement, clerical and other duties at the police and fire departments. Additional community-minded volunteers assist with social activities at our Senior Center; build bridges, plant trees and clean-up our recreational trails; perform helpful clerical tasks in our Finance Department; and assist in a myriad of ways during popular community events including Cyclebration, Run with Nature and Eggstravaganza. I am very grateful to all the energetic and committed volunteers who actively contribute to Folsom’s outstanding quality of life. I encourage anyone interested in exploring volunteer opportunities to visit our website, folsom.ca.us, or call Elaine Andersen, 351-3315. We welcome your participation. Folsom City Manager Kerry Miller can be reached at kmiller@folsom.ca.us.