Last week, EPL Volunteer Ricki was recognized with the Unsung Hero Award, and we couldn’t be more proud!

Lehigh County Aging and Adult Services bestows the annual honor to 12 people who display exceptional generosity with their time and talents to enhance the lives of others.

EPL Director Maryellen Kanarr shares why Ricki is so deserving of this accolade below — from being a library aide when her kids were young… to teaching ‘adulting’ in prisons… to giving her time and energy to the library, the Friends of the library, and local Kiwanis… Ricki is one in a million!

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[by Maryellen Kanarr] Did you ever meet someone who fits right in, and it feels like you’ve known each other forever? When Ricki Stringfellow first visited the Emmaus Public Library four years ago, her friendly, talkative, and congenial manner prompted a library volunteer to encourage her to volunteer as well. Ricki then applied to become a volunteer at the Emmaus Public Library, beginning in January 2017. She works at the circulation desk with a twinkle in her eye, assisting patrons and staff — checking materials in and out, registering new patrons for library cards, answering questions, and anything else she can help with. She also became an active member in the Friends of the Library.

Ricki has many interests and is engaging to talk to. Her enthusiasm is contagious. She isn’t afraid to jump right into projects or committees and help others. For example, she suggested several successful fundraising ideas and became part of the library’s fundraising committee.

Helping others is important to Ricki, and she is able to fulfill that through participation in mission trips and local organizations (Kiwanis), particularly working with young people. Being active and involved is her philosophy of life, dedicating her abilities to service.

It is nearly impossible to explain the impact libraries have had in her life. Since her introduction as a young child to the amazing world of books, she’s had a love affair with libraries. Schools afforded her the opportunity to become a library aide and absorb any information the librarian was willing to share about her day-to-day responsibilities.

As an adult and a mother, libraries remained a focal point Ricki’s life. When ‘Friends of the Library’ groups began to organize, she saw a way of giving back and became an active member in her former community (Selinsgrove). Her dedication and commitment to libraries remain a vital part of her life.

Professionally, her work life was very varied. Using her degree in Health Education and a major interest in Special Education prompted a lot of work experiences. These included 12 years of teaching at all levels, from preschool through college (at Susquehanna University), and coaching swimming and girls’ basketball.

Ricki’s family then moved to Vineland (NJ), where she and her husband were administrators at American Institute of Mental Studies, responsible for the Residential and Recreation components.

Later on, through her involvement in social services with healthcare facilities and community agencies, she taught ‘adulting’ and GED in county prisons for more than 20 years. One of the things she shared with her students was her love of reading, and she sometimes visited the library two or three times a week to fill their book requests on a wide array of subjects. As one can guess, her memory bank is full of stories and experiences from her professional life.

Reading is and always has been an ongoing interest. Ricki also thoroughly enjoys spending time in the kitchen, creating meals and treats for family and friends…so much so that a partner and Ricki had a catering business for a decade. She also looks forward to the gardening season.

Ricki would classify her favorite genre as mystery; however, she enjoys variety–from historical fiction to sports–and would name The Shell Seekers (Rosamunde Pilcher) and Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Richard Bach) as two of her favorite books. Ricki is a valued member of EPL’s Daytime Book Club. We are glad to have her as part of the team.

Well done Ricki!