Excellence in Volunteerism Award Winner
Orange County Probation Department
Joplin Youth Center
Volunteer In Probation
ACTION: What does the volunteer do?
Joplin Youth Center is a juvenile correctional facility that provides residential treatment for teenage boys ages 13 to 15. Boys sent to Joplin typically have 30 to 90 days remaining on their Juvenile Court commitments.
Beverly Talanian has volunteered at Joplin Youth Center since October 2005 and has contributed more than 2,300 hours of service as the institution’s unofficial "librarian." Each Tuesday, she spends most of the day overseeing library services for approximately 60 youths. She assists the boys in selecting books appropriate for their reading level and takes every opportunity to open their world to more challenging forms of literature, including the classics. In addition, Beverly reviews book reports submitted by the teens and works closely with those who are struggling to complete an assignment, encouraging them along the way and recognizing their efforts. She serves as a liaison with school staff and has been instrumental in making sure that students are properly credited for the work they complete towards high school graduation.
NEED: What community or agency need does the volunteer address?
Funding is not always available to keep the Joplin Youth Center library fully stocked, and Beverly has often purchased books at her own expense. In addition, she takes time to research publications that will further enhance the teens’ library experience and makes recommendations to Joplin’s administration for new purchases, which are made through a special funding source.
IMPACT: What is different as a result of the volunteer's service?
Beverly has made the Joplin Youth Center’s library a reality by stepping in to fill a void created by budget cuts. Several years ago, the Orange County Grand Jury stressed the importance of library access for minors in custody. In keeping with the Grand Jury’s findings, Joplin Youth Center acquired a substantial collection of books and resource material. However, due to budget constraints, the department of education did not fund a teacher to fill the position of librarian. Without hesitation, Beverly assumed that role, serving as a teacher, role model, mentor and friend. She understands the importance of changing the world one person at a time, and through her volunteer efforts, troubled teens move closer to achieving success by advancing their reading skills.
INSPIRATION: What makes the volunteer unique/special?
Due to Beverly’s diligence, Joplin offers teens a quality library program that enriches their lives, opens their world to new possibilities and helps prepare them for future academic endeavors. It’s not uncommon to see minors reading a book during their free time instead of pursuing less-productive activities. In addition, the teens are tapping into library resources to raise their reading levels, often by several grades in a very short period of time.
Developing a love of reading is an important element in turning around a troubled young person’s life. Beverly takes every opportunity to help teens expand their horizons and broaden their knowledge through books. Often, staff will notice that boys who initially demonstrate a minimal interest in reading begin to look forward to their time at the library, eagerly selecting books and discussing what they’ve read with Beverly.
Beverly’s generous spirit, caring nature and willingness to dedicate her time to work with at-risk youths are unique qualities that truly inspire others and are worthy of our highest recognition.
Click here to find out how you can volunteer with the Orange County Probation Department.