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Founded in 1942, Mosholu Montefiore Community Center provides services and activities for over 20,000 individuals each year at sites located in its main building on Gun Hill Road, in 12 public schools, at the Marble Hill Houses and at its branch in Co-op City.
Helen begins each morning by reading fifty pages. She is not fond of e-readers, which is not surprising since she has spent almost a decade volunteering to organize libraries for nonprofit organizations at 16 locations throughout the city. Before retiring from her job as a school secretary at 61, Helen had never done community service.
“I’m very fortunate because I found my niche when I retired, I was able to use my skills, my organization,” Helen says. She created a classification system which she has used in every setting from hospitals to assisted living facilities to the libraries that she has developed at settlement houses, including five Queens Community House (QCH) sites.
Like many of QCH’s volunteers, Helen was first introduced to the organization by participating in a program. She took an opera class at QCH’s Kew Gardens Community Center where she noticed that bookshelves had been donated but there was no functional library. Soon enough, she was traveling across the borough to set up libraries that serve QCH’s children, teen and adult participants. Every two months, she visits her libraries to do maintenance.
“I don’t mind when the library’s out of order when I return. That means people are using it,” she says.
Helen enjoys working independently, with some interaction with staff. She enjoys volunteering with QCH because the staff and upper management are easy to work with and truly appreciate her contributions. At the end of the day she feels accomplished, and takes pride in leaving her libraries in perfect order.
“I give my time, I give my heart, I don’t look at the clock, I work until it’s finished. I don’t find it boring at all. Everybody’s happy when I walk in,” she says.