Lesia Barnes is no stranger to volunteering, having offered her time to medical centers before transitioning to public schools in the early 2000s. This year, Lesia found a new volunteer home in the Rosa Parks Elementary library. “I’ve always been around books,” described Lesia of her early years, “and the library was my favorite place to be.”
Every week, Lesia joins Rosa Parks librarian Deborah Howe in shelving books, helping students conduct computer searches, and sharing storytime! Howe described Lesia as “an outstanding volunteer” – someone who has established strong rapport with teachers and students alike, and knows how to pitch in when needed.
In addition to supporting the book systems at Rosa Parks, Lesia knows that she is also a role model to the younger generation. “Back when I was in school,” Lesia described, “we had one volunteer who came – maybe just twice- but then not again.” With a powerfully consistent attendance record, Lesia is committed to “showing up” and being “present” each week for the students. And she notices the difference. Students are warming up to her and asking her more often for help. This kind of trust and relationship building – with both students and teachers – is the backbone of the Berkeley Schools Volunteers program.
Yet BSV volunteers don’t just give, they also receive! Lesia to this day cherishes a handmade collection of “heart cards” crafted by some of her former Malcolm X students in her earlier volunteer days. Lesia also delights in the appreciation she feels from the students and staff at Rosa Parks, noting a recent card that reads, “It is a blessing that you are a volunteer!” The feelings of appreciation seem to be mutual.
Thank you, Lesia, for showing up for the young readers of Rosa Parks!