“I have always associated Fridays with libraries,” says Florence Odigie from Arverne. “When I was younger, my mother would take me and my siblings to the Arverne Community Library to check out books for the week. Once I was older, I still continued this tradition and would often visit the library after I got out of school on Friday afternoons.”

When Florence reached tenth grade, she asked if she could volunteer at the Arverne Library. Even though the branch had moved to a cramped trailer due to Hurricane Sandy, she gladly offered her help, following in the footsteps of her sister, who had volunteered at Arverne years earlier.

Later that year, Florence accepted an offer to work as a library page. “To this day, I do not regret that decision,” she says. “What I gained from my two years of working at Arverne is not limited to valuable job experience; it also includes a precious support system and countless words of
wisdom. I previously believed that I would have trouble balancing a job and schoolwork. However, the staff encouraged me and allowed me to work around my school schedule, and understood that my education was worth more than anything to me. I did come to realize that I have the ability to balance a lot of responsibilities successfully.”

“Florence’s pleasant demeanor could always brighten up any customer or staff member’s day,” says
Nicole Gordon, Community Library Manager at Arverne. “Her infectious smile was always inviting, and the children were always drawn to her. No task was ever too big for her and she was always ready and willing to take on more responsibilities. What’s so amazing about her is that she would come in to work only twice a week, but was always able to accomplish so much. When she left for the day, the children’s room always looked like she had waved a magic wand.”

When Florence began to fulfill the promise of her education, she knew she could rely on her library family for help. Staff members—as well as other library customers!—helped her revise her college essay and advised her throughout her college application process. That help paid off in a fantastic way—Florence was accepted at Princeton, Cornell, Harvard, UPenn, and numerous other colleges!

“Without the help of the library’s staff members and patrons, I highly doubt I could have achieved all that I have to this day,” says Florence. “Whenever I had to go to a college interview or visit a college, I always had the utmost support from the staff at Arverne. As I head off to Princeton University, I will always cherish the years I have spent at Arverne Library. The experience I’ve gained from when I was a child to now has definitely enriched my life.”

Thanks to Florence for her dedication—and everyone at Queens Library wishes her good luck this fall!

Photo: Arverne Community Library Manager Nicole Gordon with Florence Odigie.