PICTURE THE HUB: GIVING TIME
Editor's note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
My name is Peter Meany and the volunteer organization I work with is English as a Second Language out of the Westwood Library. I've been volunteering two years this summer.
We are affiliated with the Literacy Volunteers of the Pascack Valley and the National English as a second language organization. There are branches in each of the libraries in the Pascack Valley. Basically what we try to do is help people who don't speak English very well to communicate better and to understand English language better and to learn about America.
I feel like I've been very fortunate in my life. I felt like I would like to sort of share some of the fortune I had with with others who you know, maybe needed something that I could actually offer. I love to communicate. I love to talk. I love to read.
I have a lady that I work with to help her communicate better and she works actually in an ice cream shop in New York so she needs to communicate with customers. So I try to help her learn the language and I try to help her understand things that might not be obvious to her. What I like to do is give her a topic or I say you pick a topic to learn about. The last one that she picked was Prince Andrew, so she reads up about Prince Andrew, and then she describes to me what she knows about Prince Andrew, and I'll correct her when her language isn't quite right. I found that to be very, very effective. She'll read and she'll listen to books too. And she also tells me about some stories from her culture and so that allows me to actually learn about her culture too. She came over here in the early 1990s so it's been a real avenue for me to learn about her home country and what life is like there now and what life was like when she grew up.
Learning about a different culture is is really rewarding. And just seeing students progress is really is really rewarding.
I think it's really important to volunteer. If you have the time, it's personally rewarding. You have a great impact on others and enables them to be better people and enables you to be a better person. Just be open and friendly and you know, take it as any as any other activity and you know, jump in full, full force. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, keep busy. You learn from the mistakes and just jump all in and give it all you got.
I really love Westwood. I grew up over by Bogert's pond, and I'm actually involved in the Pascack Historical Society. We have a museum there and I'm vice president of that now. So it allows me to communicate more about Westwood to all of the people that come in to the museum and all the people that are associated with them. I handle the marketing and I do a lot of the computer work for the organization. And that enables me to not only communicate more about a place that I really love, which is Westwood, but Pascack Valley, which I love, and I know all the towns around here because I would drive around them and walk around them and I do a lot of walking now.
TO DONATE TO CELEBRATE WESTWOOD FOLLOW THIS LINK: GIVING TIME