Hats off to library volunteers

There is no doubt that the Verde Valley inflates Arizona's national ranking for volunteerism.

It's a way of life for many folks around here.

Elsewhere in the Grand Canyon State, however, selfishness seems to prevail.

An organization called the Corporation for National and Community Service recently came out with its annual rankings for volunteerism among our nation's 50 states and the District of Columbia. Arizona ranks 44th nationally in volunteerism based on three-year averaging. The report states that 24.9 percent of the people in Arizona give of themselves in some volunteer capacity on an annual basis. Utah ranks first in the nation with a 45.9-percent rate. Nevada is last at 17.5 percent.

We are getting better, however, ranking 39th nationally in our volunteer rate change between 1989 and 2006, with an improvement of 5.4 percent.

All of the above makes the gathering Sunday at the Cottonwood Public Safety Building all the more impressive. About 50 people gathered for an appreciation luncheon and some special recognition for their volunteer contributions to the Cottonwood Library.

Among those honored were Ruth Ann Haeney and Thelma Fisher, who collectively have chalked up 85 years of volunteer service to the library. Between the two of them, Haeney and Fischer have more years of service to the library than the number of years Cottonwood has even had a library.

They are in good company. Library Director John O'Neill says as many as 45 people donate their time to library operations each month. Over the course of the year, some 75 local residents volunteer at the library.

In all, O'Neill says local volunteers donate about 8,000 hours, or about $90,000 worth of free labor, to the library each year.

Compared to the rest of the nation, Arizona may not have much to brag about when it comes to volunteerism.

But that's certainly not true for the Verde Valley and the best example you will find of it is at the Cottonwood Public Library.

We have a great library in Cottonwood.

We have a lot of dedicated volunteers to thank for that.

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