What a fitting celebration for librarian Naomi Balla-Boudreau last night at the library in McBride. There was a real hodgepodge of people in attendance, a true representation of our community and a testament to Naomi’s gift of connecting with others. She is a perfect example of what it means to be “welcoming” – a smile, a hug, her warm and inviting nature and always a willingness to listen and encourage.
Naomi is preparing to return to Ontario where she will take on the Directorship of the Library in her home community of Deep River. And many are left wondering how can we continue without her!? In the true spirit of community literacy let’s reflect on what we have learned from Naomi and what it means for our community as we envision a future without her.
Naomi models collaborative relationships in a manner unprecedented in our community. She has successfully worked with many individuals, groups and organizations for the benefit of the whole community. Where competing for resources, building up organizations and working in isolation can be the norm in small communities, Naomi has demonstrated another way. In addition to consistently showing up for her staff and Board, she attends many meetings and events hosted by other groups. She listens and consults. We know this has meant countless volunteer hours for a part-time manager in an understaffed and underfunded organization.
I have an image of her, arms loaded with craft supplies and books, dropping into an event, supporting youth to pitch in, giving a senior a hug, stirring a pot of soup and then rushing off to another meeting. Her cameo appearances have helped to create a sense of belonging and value for every community member who crosses her path. She has extended the boundaries of the library to include the whole community, indeed Dome Creek and Dunster as well!
Naomi does not speak negatively about other people. She is non-judgemental and aspires to solve problems by distinguishing the issue from the people involved.
She is a true leader and a model for all of us.
Now Naomi is leaving and we are staying with the knowledge that there is another way to be in community. Let’s continue a conversation that motivates us to engage in ways that have been influenced by her amazing leadership.