Watkins honored with state recognition

Dec. 21, 2012 @ 06:49 PM

Gloria Watkins’ leadership with the Friends of the Library has gained statewide recognition.

The N.C. Public Library Directors Association recently named Watkins as the “Friend of the Year” for 2012. The Henderson resident recently wrapped up her term as president of the local Friends board for Perry Memorial Library and shared credit.

Watkins said she is thankful but pointed to volunteers bringing greater success to Henderson’s library cause as the real reason she was singled out for an award.

“I was really surprised and excited to find out I was nominated and won,” she said.

She is also pressing on to help see a repeat of this year’s achievements.

“This is a working board, not a board in name only: we work hard,” Watkins said. “It is a lot of work moving books in place for a book sale for instance, and we all work through it.”

Jay Stephens, the director for Perry Memorial, said Watkins’ recognition comes on top of a particularly successful year leading local library volunteers. The successful fall book sale raised more than $7,200 in 2011 and nearly that amount again in 2012.

“She was a great president,” Stephens said. “Under her leadership, the Friends of the Library held that extremely successful book sale, enrolled new members and provided support for several library events and programs.”

Watkins characterized the purpose of the Friends group as solving problems, mainly funding problems that leave gaps between what the library has to work with and what the community needs its library to do.

“We try to step in and fill those gaps,” Watkins said, “to provide anything that the library may not have funding for.”

Stephens added that the group as the volunteer arm of the library had more than 450 members during Watkins’ term, describing her impact as one of providing “immense support” for all that the library does.

During her term, volunteers provided purchases of a signboard used to advertise upcoming events and new book carts for the library. They also provided funding for Bright Star Touring Theater’s visit to put on a program for Black History Month and matching funds for a grant through the Library Services and Technology Act.

“Gloria’s leadership, organizational skills and ability to unite people around a common goal proved invaluable,” Stephens said. “She certainly deserved this.”

Watkins said her real award has been the friends she has made since starting with the group about five years ago.

“I was kind of looking for some activity, and started helping with the book sales,” she said. “I have enjoyed it so much. Volunteering has made me feel better, and I have made some of the best of friends. More than anything else, I think this has been helping me.”

Watkins has confidence in Leo Kelly and Susan Faulker, the respective new president and vice president of the Friends board.

“All the friends work together as a team,” Watkins said. “It is a great organization.”

Watkins received her award during a recognition event at Winston-Salem’s Hawthorne Inn banquet hall on Dec. 6. Watkins continues her membership on the Friends board as an emeritus member for the 2012-13 term.

Board memberships are organized every fall.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.