(Jennifer Priest Mitchell is a freelance writer in Beaverton. She can be reached at jnjmitchellyahoo.com.)
The Beaverton City Library is a lot of things to a lot of people - a resource for job searches, a place where children and teens learn and make friends, and a wealth of information about almost anything you could imagine.
A select group of people can also say that they are friends of the library. The reason they can say this is because they've joined the group by the same name, which makes a difference for the library and runs the nearby Book Corner Book Shop.
The New Friends of the Beaverton City Library includes more than 25 volunteers who come in regularly and run the Book Corner Book Shop.
Made up entirely of volunteers who are not city employees nor directly affiliated with the city or the library, this group is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, operating independently of yet on behalf of the library.
'It's simple to join,' said Carol Marshall, as she showed me the form explaining that an annual family membership is a mere $12.00 per year.
Marshall is the president of the New Friends of the Beaverton City Library and an active volunteer with the Book Corner, managed by Ann Koppy.
The latest big news of the Friends is its annual fund-raiser, an auction of themed baskets, which will occur this Sunday, July 16, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Book Corner.
Sue Stimek, now serving her third year as a board member, has worked diligently and applied her auction experience to the organization on this event.
'Oh, it's been fun to plan,' she said with a warm laugh. Stimek's enthusiasm for this event is contagious and inspiring. She said it does not feel like work when you get to collaborate alongside so many wonderful people and for such a terrific cause.
'This will be a great event. While it is a member event, it is very reasonable to join, and we will be accepting new members at the auction. Anyone can come,' she said. 'We will have refreshments and many wonderful people will attend.
'From 3:15 to 4:30, we will have a silent auction of baskets valued between $10 and $35. Then from 4:15 to 5:30, we will have another table open for a second round of the silent auction with higher priced items, such as six hours of architectural design time from the firm that helped redesign the Book Corner.'
Stimek excitedly shared that all proceeds from the auction will go to the Beaverton City Library, which has a running wish list of needed items. In the past, other fund-raisers have supported furniture for the children's area of the library and CD cases.
Stimek said she enjoys auction work and has great experience in that area, but it is clear by talking to her that the Friends and the library hold a special place in her heart.
'I love to be with the people at the bookstore … the patrons and the volunteers. It is such a great group of people,' she explained warmly.
Stimek volunteers at the Book Corner on the first Saturday of each month and has become well-known for the assortment of cookies she bakes at home and brings in to share with others.
She delights in telling people that some of the cookies she bakes are from a cookbook she bought at the bookstore.
The Book Corner has an amazing selection of both fiction and nonfiction books for children and adults. With the exception of a few antique or out-of-print titles, all books sell for $1 for a hardback and 50 cents for a paperback. They also accept donations of used books in a wide array of genres.
In addition to the need for regular volunteers (and regular can be as often as once a week or as seldom as once a month), the Book Corner is currently seeking a volunteer to help with Web site development and maintenance. Please contact them if you or an agency you know of may be able to donate time and services to this project.
When she is not volunteering with the library and its bookstore or baking cookies, Stimek said she enjoys the natural beauty of Oregon.
'I came here 23 years ago,' Stimek said. 'I was born and raised in Chicago and I moved here and have never gone back … only to visit. Where else can you live so close to the mountains, to the ocean, and even to the desert, and have all this beauty so accessible all the time?'
For more information about the New Friends of the Beaverton City Library and the July 16 silent auction, please call 503-643-5188.