Giving As Well As Giving Back
Giving As Well As Giving Back
The Foundation for San Mateo County Libraries is supported by community members who not only provide financial support to enhance current programs and drive new initiatives, but also donate time. Building a Foundation and supporting the Libraries takes planning, monitoring and the dedication of volunteers. We recently spoke to two Foundation Board members, Kate and Jarrett (our outgoing and incoming Chairs, respectively), about why they are involved and what it means to them to give back to the community.
Why do you volunteer for the Foundation for San Mateo Country Libraries?
Throughout my life, the library has been a special place that enabled my imagination, curiosity and passion for learning. Serving on the Foundation Board has offered me an opportunity to help make this possible for others. The Libraries encourage exploration and the chance to reach our potential, regardless of background or financial means, a mission that resonates deeply with me. Also, my background in marketing and strategy helped me partner with our amazing Executive Director (ED) and fellow Board members to lead some initiatives common in an early-stage organization.
It has been extremely rewarding to see the Foundation grow over the past two years. Essentially, it has been like many other startups; it began with the recognition of a significant community need and mandate to close that gap, and within 24 months our first six-figure distribution to the Libraries was made.
I think a common theme among all Board members is a love of the Libraries. I think that passion starts with the local library and how libraries helped shape our lives. For me, it was growing up in rural Colorado and how it was always a special treat to visit the library since it was about a 25-minute drive from our house. My first memories of the library were car trips to the library where my sister and I would attend children story hours with our friends from school. This evolved into visits for summer read-a-thons trying to check out and read as many books as possible and then on to utilizing the library for researching and writing high school and college reports. The way I used the library evolved through the years but it was always there to meet my needs. That is what I love most about the library and why I am passionate about serving on the Foundation.
What are the future goals of the Foundation?
The Foundation exists to support the Libraries and ensure their success for future generations. We do this by funding county-wide programs, in three critical focus areas:
- Youth and Family Services: giving to the next generation through after school activities and summer camps
- Community Engagement: supporting outreach initiatives such as bookmobile and the upcoming makermobile
- Lifelong Learning: enriching the community through initiatives such as classes and other adult author programs
As a relatively new foundation established in just the past two years, I think our primary goals are to increase awareness of the Foundation and its mission and build our network of supporters. The Libraries’ support of the communities they serve is a great story to tell. The way Libraries have adapted through the COVID-19 pandemic and found ways to serve the rapidly changing needs of the community is inspiring and worthy of support. We need to continue to find ways to tell these stories to as many people as possible and show them why the Foundation is worthy of their support.
How do you see your role adapting to meet these goals?
During my tenure as Chair (partnering closely with the ED and Board), initially my role was to help establish a strong team and a culture of dedication to the Foundation and Libraries. Excellent partnership, open communication and innovative ideas came naturally to the team. Over time, my role shifted to help guide the strategic direction of the Board’s efforts to support the Libraries.
I want to educate the Board on the Foundation’s goals and the impact the Foundation can make. I want to make sure the Board is confident telling the Foundation’s story and how it aligns with their love of libraries.
How do the goals of the Foundation align with your own?
The Libraries offer safe, welcoming places and world-class resources to us all for free. The Foundation and I are passionate about ensuring their growth and preserving them for future generations. It has been an honor to do this through my work with the Foundation.
I think both the Foundation and I love to spread the message of how useful libraries are in serving the many different needs of the people in their communities.
What skills or characteristics help someone thrive on the Foundation’s Board?
I believe a shared passion for the mission, creativity, a commitment to bringing innovative ideas to creation. Adaptability when facing uncertainty have also helped our team succeed and thrive together.
I think a passion for libraries and a desire to contribute to something in its early stages. As a new Foundation and board, we are all learning to grow the organization together. The common trait among all board members is an appreciation of how libraries serve the entire community. They meet the many different needs of many different types of people who utilize the library.
We are always looking for new volunteers. Learn more at: https://investinsmcl.org/volunteer/
If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.