Your Community: Teen shines as Monticello library volunteer

Teen volunteer Mahmood Hassan

Every summer, Johnson County Library provides volunteer opportunities for teens throughout the county. These teen volunteers help shelve materials and assist with Summer Reading programs. This includes not only a chance to work within the Library but also an opportunity to gain real work experience and leadership skills.

Monticello Library had 20 talented teen volunteers this past summer, but one in particular stood out to the Library’s youth information specialist, Julia Belcher. Mahmood Hassan was “exemplary,” according to Belcher, because of his work ethic and his joy on the job. “He is so friendly and always willing to take on any task,” Belcher said. “He’s great with the patrons. He’s always very friendly, very personable. He’s so happy to help.”

Belcher especially appreciated Hassan’s interaction with young children in the Library, helping prepare craft materials for the kids. He also helped locate books placed on hold and shelved books on Saturday mornings, one of the Library’s busiest times.

For Hassan, a precocious 14-year-old who has skipped two grades and is a junior at Olathe North High School, the Library was a great opportunity to give back to the community. “It’s just exciting to work at such a professional and interesting environment,” he said. Hassan moved with his parents to Lenexa from Wisconsin two years ago when his father got a job teaching microbiology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Hassan was home-schooled and taking online classes at the time. At age 12, he wanted more community interaction but there are few volunteer opportunities for young teens. So he and his mother were pleased to learn that Johnson County Library allows volunteers as young as 13. “I wanted to start volunteering because it helps build character. It helps make new experiences,” Hassan recalled. “I thought 13 years old would be a good age to start. You want to get as much volunteering as possible, especially because colleges look at that as well.”

He volunteered at Lackman Library from June 2018 until it closed in April 2019. He sorted books on carts, helped shelve books and cleaned toys in the busy children’s area. Then he joined other volunteer teens at Monticello for the summer 2019 season.

Hassan, who is aiming for a career in the medical field, also kept busy during the summer shadowing a doctor and volunteering at a hospital daycare. Those were also valuable experiences but Hassan says he learned a lot at Monticello Library. “It sharpens general skills like sorting and other cognitive skills,” he said, adding that sorting and shelving require accuracy and precision. “Many practical skills can be honed through volunteering at the Library.” He also learned to follow instructions from his supervisors and appreciated the social engagement with the staff, patrons and other volunteers.

Hassan did well with his online studies but craved a more organized, structured setting. So he enrolled this semester at Olathe North and so far he’s loving it. With a heavy course load that includes anatomy, advanced biotechnology, AP statistics, French, English and history, he has halted his volunteering for the school year. He looks forward to volunteering again next summer, either at Monticello Library or possibly at the new Lenexa City Center Library. “It really makes you feel a sense of community,” he said, “and it helps you feel like you are doing something useful, and improving.”

The Johnson County Library summer teen volunteer program is very popular and fills up fast. Volunteers must be 13 years old before June 1. If you would like to know more about this volunteer opportunity, call Johnson County Library at 913.826.4600 and ask to speak with a Youth Services Librarian.

Johnson County Library – Nurturing the Community’s Collective Wisdom