New president of Milford library friends wants to bring people together

Nancy Abbey, assistant director of the Milford Public Library.

Nancy Abbey, assistant director of the Milford Public Library.

Friends of the Milford Library / Contributed photo

MILFORD — For as long as she can remember, the Milford Library has been an integral part of Ashley Volkens’ life. The new Friends of the Milford Library’s 2021 president, Volkens said it was time for the library to take a more leading role in the community at large.

Volkens was named incoming president for 2021 at the Friends of the Milford Library’s virtual Annual Meeting and Thank You Celebration on Sunday, Jan. 24. She has been involved with the group for three years, two years on the board and one as a volunteer for the Party in the Stacks. Her love of books began much earlier, though.

“I have lived in Milford my entire life and my mom would bring me to the library ever since I can remember,” Volkens said. “I love reading and I love what the library represents. It is so much more than just books. It is about bringing people together and bring access to everyone. I’m excited with this opportunity to get new friends involved and bring new opportunities to these friends.”

At the meeting, library staff, and local supporters reflected on 2020 and focus on new things to come in the year ahead. Fundraising has been mostly in-person events (book sales) but the Friends are looking to be more creative. Last year the group’s 423 programs were attended by 7,483 adults, teenagers and children.

“We want to ramp up our advocacy efforts as well,” said Volkens, who served as vice president of special events in 2019 and vice president of public relations in 2020. “There are multiple ways of supporting the library, be it fundraising, advocacy or just getting the word out about how amazing our library is in Milford.”

Several volunteers also received awards at the meeting, including Judy Salemme, who was honored for her commitment to the Little Libraries. Jack Button and Pat Simon were also recognized for their continuing work on the Little Libraries.

“I couldn’t think of a more perfect time to have an impact on your community than now,” Volkens said. “Libraries are essential to building a more educated community, a more aware community, and a more connected community.”

The Friends’ annual High School Book Award recipients for 2020 were Rosalia Navarra (The Academy), Joseph Merly (Jonathan Law), Isabella Ribera (Joseph Foran), Megan Campbell (Platt Tech) and Jiline Cole (Lauralton Hall). The annual scholarship was awarded to two high school seniors - Anna Jani from Foran and Tasbita Ahmed from Jonathan Law.

In addition to Volkens being named president, members voted to elect Pam Pilla as Vice President of Membership. Continuing their terms on the board are Treasurer Kathy Goldbach, Assistant Treasurer Paula Goncalves, and Secretary Arlene Painter.

The Vice President of Public Relations and Vice President of Special Events positions remain vacant.

Friends of the Milford Library stewards for the fifth anniversary of Little Libraries were Lois Barr, Judy Salemme, Rhea Spiegel (Walnut Beach), Ellen Brodell, Bettina Thiel, Lisa Tryon (YMCA), Peggy Bolger, Sandra Fieldsv (Gulf Beach) and Judy Kennedy, Ellie Kopnicky, Marilyn May, Cookie Reshenk (Train Station). Jack Button and Pat Simon handled maintenance and repairs.

Outgoing officer Margaret Downey was thanked for sharing her time and talents while on the board. A book will be donated to the library in her name.

Also recognized were the local businesses that have supported the Friends over the past few years, including Alternate Universe, Archie Moore’s, Bobette’s, Christopher Martins, The Crushed Grape, Good Morning Cupcake, The Milford Bank, Scratch Baking, Shoprite, Stonebridge, Trish Pearson Insurance, LLC, Party People, and Williams Agency.

The Friends of the Milford Public Library is a non-profit, 501(c)3 volunteer organization. All proceeds raised by the Friends are used to fund children and adult programs, museum passes, and expenses not covered by the Milford city budget. For questions or further information about the organization, email Twitter: @blox354