Nearly 700 people, from teens to retirees, give their time and talents as volunteers at Sno-Isle Libraries. Combined, they contributed more than 23,000 hours at community libraries and the administrative service center in 2017.
And no teen-age volunteer gave more time than Vanessa Zelenovic.
The 15-year-old Lynwood High School student logged 103.5 hours over the course of the year. That diligence earned Zelenovic a gold medal in the President’s Volunteer Service awards program.
“Every Sunday I’d go to the Lynnwood Library,” said Zelenovic, who is taking a break from volunteer duties at the moment. “I would process returns like DVDs, children’s books and what-not. Sometimes, I would come in on extra days, like over the holidays when people are on vacation.”
Zelenovic is one of 32 volunteers who qualified for President’s Volunteer Service awards in 2017. Six more volunteers were nominated for the Governor’s Volunteer Service award. That group included another Lynnwood Library volunteer, Bonnie Gerken, who was honored with the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for Education.
“Volunteers help strengthen the connection our libraries have with their communities,” said Marti Anamosa, president of the library district’s Board of Trustees. “Volunteers inspire others to take positive action to change the world.”
Rep Rick Larsen, D-Wash., is also a supporter of volunteerism and the awards.
“I have a deep appreciation for the library volunteers and administrators who keep these important institutions running,” Larsen said. “Congratulations to everyone nominated for this year’s volunteer service awards. Thank you for your work to give folks access to resources they might not otherwise have.”
Zelenovic said she is drawn to the library.
“I have always liked the library,” she said. “I like organizing and making things in the proper order.”
It was more than her affinity for organizing that made Zelenovic valuable, said Nikki Burnett, page supervisor and volunteer coordinator at Lynnwood Library.
“Vanessa’s friendly smile and responsible attitude made her a great choice for our ‘Best Book I Ever Read’” Burnett said of the program that helps third-graders and their families celebrate an interest in reading. “Vanessa’s involvement with FIRST Robotics FRC team and other STEM activities at Lynnwood High School also made a difference at our annual Techtoberfest technology open house.”
Zelenovic was regular library customer before volunteering, too: “It’s like 10 minutes away from my house; I can walk there.” Zelenovic says she like reading just about everything, “except romance and horror.”
“I like the classics; now, I’m reading ‘War and Peace,’” Zelenovic said, adding that she doesn’t know anyone else who has read it or would read it. “Maybe historical fiction is my favorite. My favorite subject in school is AP European History. I love history and learning about the past.”
Her busy academic schedule that also includes honors chemistry means some things have been put on hold.
“I’m planning on doing Running Start at Edmonds Community College. I’ve already registered for English, chemistry and pre-calculus,” Zelenovic said, but then added, “I would like to volunteer again.”
Miranda Blum, a page supervisor and volunteer coordinator at the library, said while Zelenovic would be welcomed back, they understand the demands on her time.
“Vanessa did an amazing job,” Blum said. “Her hard work and adaptability were greatly appreciated by staff, and we’re excited for the opportunities she is sure to have in her future.”