Volunteers make big difference at local library

Avalon Library director Rania Sullivan accepts a donation of $500 from PPG Industries, delivered by volunteer Andrew Halcoussis, Sullivan’s father, on behalf of the PPG GIVE volunteer program. Photo by Nancy Whyte for The Citizen


By donating their time, energy and talents, volunteers play an important role at a variety of local organizations. At the Avalon Library, volunteers perform various duties in assisting the library staff, helping patrons, and in fund-raising activities.

Two of the Avalon Library’s volunteers are particularly well-known to library director Rania Sullivan -- her parents. Both Linda and Andrew Halcoussis enjoy spending numerous hours each year volunteering at the library.

As a retiree of PPG Industries, Andrew Halcoussis is able to participate in the PPG Industries Foundation's GIVE program, which recognizes the importance of volunteerism and encourages current and retired personnel by supporting their organizations with grant contributions.

Thus, Halcoussis recently received from PPG a donation of $500 for the library.

Halcoussis retired from PPG in 1999 after a 40-year career with the company, where he worked in the coatings and paint division. He is a strong supporter of libraries in general and participates in a number of programs offered by several northern Allegheny County libraries. He is often seen volunteering at the Avalon Library.

"My father helps with book sales and with special events. He helps set up and
tear down (chairs and tables) when we have special events out on the lawn during the summer."

Sullivan's mother also volunteers at the library. "My parents 'man' the table at the election day bake sale. Together they help with other library events and participate in events conducted by the Friends of the Avalon Library."

The Avalon Library first opened in 1946, in a small basement room of the Avalon Elementary School and throughout the years has been housed in several different locations. With the assistance of then-state Rep. David Mayernik -- who obtained grant money to purchase, remodel and furnish a former church -- the current site on South Home Avenue opened in June 2002.

Sullivan has worked at the Avalon Library since May, 2009 and served as director since September, 2010. Currently the library has 10 paid employees and several regular volunteers. Sullivan easily acknowledges the role of volunteers.

"The library would not be as strong and vibrant of a place without the help, support and enthusiasm of the volunteers. The staff and I are able to focus on our duties and better help patrons when we know we have reliable volunteers to help us."

The library operates under the instruction of the Avalon Library Board of Directors. Currently, there are two openings on the Avalon library board. A person must live in Avalon to be a member of the board. Additionally, there are openings on the board of the Friends of the Library group, which assists the library in a number of activities that support the library.

Opportunities are available for additional volunteers at the library or individuals who wish to join the Friends of the Library group. According to Sullivan, the Friends of the Library group "is the library’s fundraising arm.

Anyone who is interested in serving on one of the boards or in volunteering is encouraged to contact the Avalon Library.

Avalon Library is part of the Allegheny County Library Association, a federation of libraries that includes the Carnegie Library system in Pittsburgh, which share their collections and expertise throughout Allegheny County.

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