Written by Brandon Young, content coordinator
It All Comes Back to Mary-Margaret
In the bustling heart of the Halifax Central Library, a lively spirit permeates the air, thanks in large part to the dedicated volunteers who commit their time and talents to making the library a welcoming hub.
One such individual is Mary-Margaret Bennett, a gifted artist and avid food lover who combines her creativity and culinary passions to enrich the library's community. As we observe Volunteer Appreciation Week, let's delve into Mary-Margaret's unique contributions to the Halifax Central Library and explore the ways her artistic and gastronomic expertise have touched the lives of community members.
"I started volunteering about eight months ago because of the incredible programming led by Sarah Gignac (a library employee) at the Lou Duggan Creative Studio," says Mary-Margaret.
Since then, she has actively participated in food-oriented programs, such as the Teen Chef initiative, as well as numerous art events hosted by the Library. Initially volunteering on a weekly basis, she now dedicates her time about twice a month, allowing her to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people from diverse backgrounds.
One of Mary-Margaret's most treasured experiences as a volunteer involved working with Ukrainian refugees during a culinary program.
"It was a fantastic opportunity to listen to their stories and help them feel at home in their new surroundings," she recalls.
Through her volunteer work, Mary-Margaret has not only connected with individuals from various cultures but has also broadened her own food experiences. Having grown up with limited access to diverse foods due to financial constraints, volunteering at the library has enabled her to experiment with new flavours and healthier meal options.
Art has been a driving force in Mary-Margaret's life, with her passion rekindled through the Library's art-focused programs. Consequently, she has held three art exhibitions at the Argyle Fine Art Gallery, even producing a piece inspired by the Library itself.
"The library's volunteers and staff have been instrumental in helping me rediscover my artistic talents and offering me a platform to express my creativity," says Mary-Margaret.
When asked about her favourite aspect of volunteering, Mary-Margaret highlights the relationships she forms with people and the joy of making a positive impact on their lives. She recounts a particularly moving story of a Ukrainian refugee participating in the Teen Chef program, who managed to find comfort and friendship within the Library's community despite facing difficult circumstances.
"Seeing the positive change and the friendships that develop in the library is truly heartwarming," she shares.
As Volunteer Appreciation Week unfolds, Mary-Margaret reflects on her personal growth and the priceless lessons she has gained during her time at the Library.
"From honing my cooking abilities to adopting a healthier lifestyle, volunteering has truly enriched my life," she affirms.
For those contemplating volunteering with the Halifax Public Libraries, Mary-Margaret's message is both clear and motivating: "Just do it." She urges individuals to take the plunge, as the Library provides a flexible and supportive environment in which volunteers can make a genuine difference in their community.
In honour of volunteers like Mary-Margaret Bennett, we recognize the enduring impact they have on the lives of those who frequent the library. Be it through whipping up delectable dishes or crafting stunning works of art, these devoted individuals truly transform our various branches, like Halifax Central Library, into havens of inspiration, education, and connection.
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Inspired to volunteer with Halifax Public Libraries? Learn how here, opens a new window.