Turlock residents Susie Van Foeken and Marie Voltzke enjoy talking about their travels, they like reading Christian fiction and they each have a particular fondness for black jellybeans. These are the markers of their friendship — a friendship that has been growing for the last four years and blossomed through the Stanislaus County Library’s Home Delivery Service.
The Home Delivery Service is a program that allows homebound individuals, whether through age, disability or illness, the opportunity to checkout library materials and have them delivered to their residence by one of the program’s volunteers.
Currently, the program serves about 130 people and has a growing waiting list, which is why the library is in need of more volunteers, said Lauren Hall, the library’s community service coordinator.
For the people on the receiving end of the service, the program is much more than just a book delivery service.
“For some, it’s companionship and gives them a lifeline to the community,” Hall said.
Voltzke couldn’t agree more with that sentiment.
“I look forward to her visit each month and the conversations we have,” said the 94-year-old Voltzke, a World War II veteran and current resident of Cypress of Emanuel assisted-living facility.
An avid reader who goes through about 15 to 20 books each month, Voltzke said she is grateful for the service that keeps her supplied with stories.
“I like to read them for the entertainment, the knowledge and it helps your vocabulary, so if you play Scrabble you have a better chance of winning,” Voltzke summarizes while Van Foeken lets out a burst of laughter at her friend’s joke.
Yvonne Caton can appreciate the friendship between Van Foeken and Voltzke. As a long-standing volunteer for the library’s program, she says the people she has met have become more than patrons.
“They become good friends. I’ve gone just to visit or take them to the store. The idea of helping someone out is what keeps me involved,” Caton said.
The burgeoning friendships are just one of the benefits the volunteers reap.
“It’s really a rewarding experience for me,” Van Foeken said. “It’s like having more grandparents. I just feel really lucky that I’m in a position to volunteer.”
The library program used to be manned by library employees, but budget cuts have left them relying on volunteers.
“We wouldn’t have this service without the volunteers,” Hall said. “They are the life-blood of the service.”
The volunteers are responsible for selecting library materials, checking out library materials, delivering them, and returning the materials for the home borrower at least once a month.
Applicants undergo a background check and a brief training before starting deliveries. Those interested in volunteering can contact the Modesto Library Outreach Office at 558-7817.