Solitude governs in most sections of University City Regional Library. The soft taps of computer keys, the gentle flips of pages, and a few occasional coughs are usually as loud as it gets.But a few weeks ago, behind the conference doors near the library’s entrance, the sounds were altogether different as teenagers knotted together squares of fabric to make post-surgery recovery blankets for animals at the Humane Society of Charlotte.As participants of the library’s Teen Community Service Projects series, they laughed and talked while they measured and snipped at the rolls of green, purple, and yellow fleece draped over the worktables in front of them. A few drummed their fingers to Lady Gaga songs thumping from a CD player in the corner.By the end of the afternoon the half-dozen teenagers had made 10 blankets for the Humane Society – and at the same time, received something for themselves along the way.“It lets them give back to their community but more importantly, it lets them feel valued by their community, that they have something of value to give back,” said Tiffany Boeglen of the Teen Library for University City Regional Library.University City Regional Library has set up a few teen community service projects in the past, but Boeglen said she plans to include more in the library’s fall schedule of activities and events.“These kinds of programs are important because they give teens experience outside the educational setting,” she said. “They give them a chance to work with other teens, and to build their leadership skills as well.”It’s not always easy for younger citizens to find opportunities to volunteer in their communities. Safety and legal requirements often limit the kinds of work those under 18 years of age can perform.But studies show it’s worth it to seek out the opportunities when available.Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization that tracks national trends through a variety of government and private sources, shows adolescents who volunteer regularly have stronger work ethics and leadership skills, are more likely to vote, and less likely to engage in risky behaviors. They are also more apt to have empathy and respect for others in the community.“I would definitely want to be comfortable. I would want a blanket,” said Martha Reyes, 15, a rising junior at Vance High School, imagining what life would be like for a dog in the pound.As she measured and cut from a yard of purple fleece, she told others about her own dog, King, who each night sleeps on his own pillow and burrows into his own blanket. “Animals have a special place in my heart,” she said.“It’s so sad what happens to animals today,” said Ebone Hasan, 16, a rising junior at Rocky River High School in Charlotte, who helped straighten the fabric for Reyes. She had just heard the story of a dog tossed out of a moving vehicle on N.C. 73. “I would want to be taken home and to be loved,” she said.For Boeglen, conversations like that make the $80 worth of fleece she picked up on sale with library programming funds worth it, and then some.“Oh yeah, definitely.”
Friday, Jul. 20, 2012
UC library’s teen project helps community
Kids add value through outreach service work
Want to learn more? To learn more about Teen Community Service Projects offered through University City Regional Library, visit www.cmlibrary.org or call 704-416-7200. University City Regional Library is at 301 East W.T. Harris Blvd., Charlotte. Library hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The library is closed on Sundays.