Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Volunteer of the Year

The Library has given our Volunteer of the Year award to Rev. Willis Bloedow, in recognition of his years of service on the Library Board and OWLS Board, his tireless advocacy, his active involvement in trustee education, his fund-raising efforts for the Appleton Library Foundation, and his key role in facilitating the Library's involvement with Project Promise & garnering support for the community read.

The photo shows Mayor Tim Hanna and me making a presentation to Will. Following are remarks made by Will at the Appleton City Council meeting on April 18, 2007:

First, a thank you to the Appleton Public Library staff and the Friends of APL.

Second, thanks to Mayor Hanna for the appointment to serve on the Library Board and to City Council members for supporting the library and its mission in this city.

Third. thank you to my parents and family who taught me the importance of the meaning of community and service and gave me a love for reading. I was nine years old before I entered a library --- a bookmobile ---which was the beginning of my visit to libraries all over the country.

This community is a great place to live. Thirty-three years ago yesterday my wife and our daughters moved to Appleton. To me, there are foundation stones which build up a community. Homes, schools, faith communities, city government and the library. Without any one of these, a community is not whole. There needs to be a creative tension. One cannot exist alone. Together they accomplish greater things. We are celebrating 150 years as a community, 150 years of support and growth.

When I came on the Appleton Library Board, thirteen years ago, I was asked “Why do you want to serve?” I have stood beside and in the Statue of Liberty, toured Ellis Island, been inside the U.S. Capitol, held my hand on my heart and recited The Pledge of Allegiance. But nothing in the world reminds me more of what it means to be an American, living in a free society, as walking through the doors of a public library, which could just as well have Emma Lazarus’ words from the Statue of Liberty written on its doors ... a huge sign saying “everyone is welcome here” with the emphasis on anyone!

With this in mind, it is with a sense of privilege and honor that I accept this award.

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