It’s National Volunteer Week 2018, and we want to celebrate the important role of volunteers at Queens Library!

All this week, we will share stories of our volunteers on our blog. Thank you to them, and to every Queens Library volunteer, for their service!

This year, Queens Library decided to create the Go the Extra Mile (G.E.M.) Volunteer Award to celebrate our volunteers that go above and beyond in their service and embody the library’s mission “to transform lives by cultivating personal and intellectual growth and by building strong communities.”

Three of our volunteers received Fall 2017 G.E.M. Volunteer Awards and three have been recognized as Honorable Mentions.

Today, we’re introducing you to G.E.M. Volunteer Award winner Denise Hairston, an Adult Education ESOL Group Leader at Rochdale Village Community Library.

Denise is somewhat of an unlikely volunteer, but anyone that has been a part of her conversation groups would tell a different story.

After retiring in February 2017, she wasn’t looking to volunteer when she visited Central Library ine day. However, after speaking to members of the Volunteer Services department and asking a few questions, she was encouraged to begin volunteering as an ESOL conversation group leader at the Rochdale Adult Learning Center. Denise found that she enjoyed volunteering and making an impact so much, she began asking for additional opportunities.

In the following months, Denise began volunteering in a variety of roles—from working with the marketing department and assisting with ESOL class registration to running ESOL classes in multiple locations. “I enjoy what I do and extending myself,” she says.

In fact, volunteering as an ESOL group leader inspired Denise to become a certified We Are New York facilitator and to lead the We Are New York ESOL group at Rochdale. "The staff at Rochdale has been exceptional in making me feel welcome,” adds Denise.

"Denise has been a bright light at our Learning Center since she joined us last Spring," says Lori Rodriguez, Manager of the Rochdale Adult Learning Center, pictured with Denise as she received her G.E.M Volunteer Award. "She is an excellent role model for our adult students, as she’s always eager to learn new things and be challenged in new ways."

Congratulations, Denise, and thank you for going above and beyond as you discovered your love of volunteering!