Name: Nancy Berla of Wilde Lake Village in Columbia.
Hobbies and other activities: Mrs. Berla has volunteered with the Howard County Library for the past two years. She does computer data entry for many data bases and coordinates two discussion groups at Vantage House and Heartlands. They meet once a month. She helps the groups decide on selections, then collects the books and tries to find enough copies to help with the discussion. She also makes sure she has "talking books" and large print books for those who need it. Then she facilitates the discussion.
Mrs. Berla also volunteers and at the Family Life Center, Voices for Children and in reading programs at two elementary schools.
"My main occupation is working in the field of parent involvement in the schools, and I just published a book, 'Innovations in Parent/Family Involvement,' " Mrs. Berla said. The book is written with William Riouxi. She also does public speaking and training on the subject. She likes to read, swim, knit and play tennis.
Organization's Comments: "Nancy Berla came to the Howard County Volunteer Program after a long history of involvement in the community," said Louise B. Reimer, Coordinator of Special Services with the Howard County Library. "During the interview, she expressed her desire to spend some of her free time in new and interesting ways and the library seemed to be a natural. Since that time in January 1992, she has become one of our many dedicated volunteers who spend many hours helping the library keep pace with the demands of our community," she said.
"She has saved me hundreds of hours," said Sylvia Waters, a library associate. "She has helped me to keep the indexing current. I know that in addition to helping me, she has also been assisting with the book sales. She is a dependable, reliable, conscientious, cheerful person. Nancy was also very instrumental in putting together the current videocassette holdings list."
"The success of the discussion groups depends a large part on Nancy's careful preparation," said Val Fagen, disability services specialist. "She consults with library staff on selection of titles and arranges for books to be available for borrowing. She also takes responsibility for getting the books to readers in time for each scheduled meeting and then facilitates the very lively discussion," Ms. Fagen said. "Nancy's enthusiasm and dedication are greatly appreciated by these avid readers."
Volunteer's Comments: "I really enjoy connecting with other people in the community, and when I retired, I decided to look for avenues that I could be active," Mrs. Berla said.
"I have some motivation to help people and do things I enjoy, and I learn from what I do." In preparing for analytical discussions and looking up material on the author, "I learn very much. Then with the seniors, they are all conscientious readers and they have many interesting things to say. They relate the material to their lives and get into storytelling of their own."
"I learn from the things that I do. Plus, a need to help others who are not as fortunate as I am and to help contribute to them in some way are other reasons."
About Mrs. Berla: She worked with the National Committee for Citizens in Education for more than eight years as an advocate for parents in parent involvement in schools.
Mrs. Berla has been married to Michael Berla for 41 years and has four children and six grandchildren.
To make a nomination or receive a nomination form, call Jill L. Kubatko at 715-2813 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Nominations may be faxed to the office at 715-2816.