2022 Outstanding Volunteer Honoree - Adult Division
As president of Friends of the Library since 2019, Susan Pantages has successfully weathered the responsibilities of the position amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the difficulties of spearheading an organization almost entirely over the internet, she has managed to rack impressive accomplishments for the Friends. But she was not always involved with the organization.
Seven years ago, she became involved with Friends of the Library through a friend’s invitation. Beforehand, she worked for Foster’s Farms for 37 years. Her time as salesperson with the company helped her cultivate an optimistic personality and a mindset geared toward growth. Immediately, members of the Friends took notice.
“There were people [within the Friends organization] who didn’t know me and were like ‘Oh my God, she’s a wild one for sure,’” she quipped about her early volunteering days. One year later, she was elected Vice President of the Friends of the Library’s Board of Directors.
Among her proudest accomplishments during her time as president is the renovation of the library’s garden area where readers can sit down in the refurbished furniture alongside the sprouting flora.
Susan was also inspired to kickstart a purse sale to fundraise for Friends of the Library, making almost $4,000 during the first sale alone. She was asked to speak at Serving with a Purpose – a conference for library volunteers – about the sale, inspiring similar events statewide. “I can’t tell you how many other Friends in California are doing purse sales now,” she recounted excitedly.
One of Susan’s favorite things about being involved in the community is the friendships she has made and the direction in life it gives her. Although her term as president is ending, she has no plans of ending her commitment to the Friends. Not only does it provide her personal satisfaction, she finds the organization’s mission important. Maintaining literacy and keeping kids interested in reading are goals that align with her values.
Susan plans on refocusing her energy towards fundraising for the organization to keep it sustainable and to increase its growth.
“Keep the life of the library going. Keep the institution that’s been with us forever,” she said. “Nothing makes me happier than to come [to the library] on a Saturday and see so many kids.”