Follow your bliss. This philosophy normally reserved for career guidance is what Omaha born-and-raised Cathy Blanchard has applied to volunteering.
Nearly two years ago, Blanchard began assisting book clubs coordinator April Earl once a week at W. Dale Clark (Main) Library downtown. “I was looking to make myself useful [and] downtown has always fascinated me. I like the charm of older buildings,” she said.
Her main duty is filling book club bag orders, a task Blanchard finds incredibly satisfying. The process: reference a list, locate books, and fill and label each bag accordingly. Said Earl, “Cathy is a valuable volunteer because most of all, she is reliable. I can always count on her to be here no matter what the weather is outside or what she has going on in her life. She keeps up with the pace and has developed her own system where she can fill the orders faster, neater and more efficiently.”
Blanchard is also a member of the Fourth Thursday Book Club at Abrahams Branch. “I’ve discovered so many books [here]. I love my job. I do, because I see on the shelf all the books that are available and I think, ‘I hope our group reads this one, I hope our group reads that one.’ I get excited for every Thursday night to see if it’s one that I like.”
She credits her mom for her love of reading. “My mother read lots of books to my brother and me as children. That was our favorite pastime. At school I liked storytime. And, well, it was no fun to go home and do math [laughs]–reading was fun,” she said.
Working at Goodwill also affords Blanchard the ability to build her personal collection at bargain prices. “I’ve got baskets full of books at home yet to read and I’ll never be bored. I’ve got enough books to entertain me for the rest of my lifetime. There’s no reason anybody ever should be bored with this many books in the world and with [the] many libraries we’ve got in town.”
Her work has reach beyond the confines of Main Library. She carries a stack of OPL bookmarks in her purse. Said Blanchard, “When I’m in conversation with someone on the bus or in line at the store, I’ll hand them a bookmark just as advertisement. ‘Give your library a call in your neighborhood and see when their book club meets.’”