First there was love
When I moved to Halifax a handful of years ago, I fell in love. The kind of love that drew me in slowly, left me wanting to know more, and kept me looking forward to coming back again and again. There was always something exciting, dynamic, and fascinating to discover. I was constantly engaged and utterly charmed. I fell in love with Halifax Public Libraries.
I’ve been to many libraries over the years, and was a regular at the library in my hometown. All of them were wonderful in their own ways. But there was something different about this one. Little things, like the free hygiene products in the washrooms, and bigger things, like free lectures from the local universities, combined to show me that something remarkable was happening at the Halifax branches. The more time I spent there, the more I visited the different branches and met different people, the more I loved.
Then a sense of connection
Watching the events and programs happening and seeing what kind of impact the Halifax branches had on our communities, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. It started with some questions to a local librarian: “How do I get involved? How can I help?”
At the time, they told me they were looking for volunteers for the Virtual English Conversation Group. I had no idea if it would be right for me, but I was willing to try. For six months, I got to chat with newcomers, who were practicing their English, and it was the highlight of my weeks. We’d share stories, recipes, jokes, and knowledge. I got so many tips on their favourite restaurants and walks in the city, leading me to visit places in Nova Scotia I hadn’t even heard of in the years I’d already been living here. After all this time, I felt a connection to the community that I didn’t know I was missing.
Passing on skills that lead to success
Since then, I’ve had the chance to facilitate a different program for newcomers and have made the most of my professional experience in employee training. The Up Skills for Work program emphasized soft skills that are most valuable in the Canadian workforce.
Getting the groups’ perspectives on weekly topics always made the sessions fly by, and left me looking at concepts like “Communication” and “Adaptability” in an entirely new light. Though I sometimes worry that I might be getting more out of it than the attendees, being told that someone put into practice the skills we learned in a session and got a job because of it leaves me on cloud nine for… well, I’m still there. I’ll let you know if I ever come down from that feeling.
More than one life changed
My life has changed dramatically in the year since I started volunteering with the Halifax library, and that’s not an exaggeration. I’ve learned more about myself and my community. I’ve met so many wonderful people. And I’ve gained a new confidence in my abilities. This path has led me back to school so I can start a career in public libraries and work in an environment that inspires me.
The greatest loves are the ones that help you grow into a better version of yourself. I’ve found that at Halifax Public Libraries, and I have a feeling it’s a love that will last a lifetime.
Andy Curry's story is one in a series of spotlights made for Volunteer Appreciation Week 2022, called When You Shine. Each story shared is an expression of the Library's appreciation for the many volunteers making our communities better every day.