Montana State University Billings student, Justin Pallo, has taken his bilingual ability and brought positivity to the community through his volunteer service at Billings Public Library.
This fall, Pallo began his volunteer work at the Billings Public Library reading children’s books in Spanish after connecting to the library through MSUB’s Virtual Volunteer program. Since the library has been closed due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, Pallo has been recording and uploading videos to the library’s YouTube page which is accessible to any interested viewers.
“A bilingual Story Time has been on our wish list for several years and we are so thankful that Justin reached out to us to volunteer,” states Children’s Librarian Allynne Ellis. “We would love for this program to continue once we open and begin to offer in person programming. This program is just the first in what we hope will be many other programs that support and celebrate our diverse community.”
The hope for Spanish Story Time is to continue in person after COVID-19 guidelines are lifted. Both Pallo and Ellis find value in reading to children directly rather than virtually. Pallo hopes to continue his role in this volunteer position as long as he remains in Billings. He reciprocates the gratitude of volunteering, “I have found that volunteering can easily become the highlight of your week.”
Volunteers are a valuable resource for the Billings Public Library. They help expand the library’s mission of providing patrons with knowledge and information that supports lifelong learning and expands and enhances the Billings community. Volunteers perform many services that cannot be funded out of the library’s regular operating budget and are essential to maintaining quality services. Each volunteer brings a special gift to the library. Because they are here regularly and see the library from a different perspective than a user, they understand just how much libraries contribute to the community and can share that with community members.
“Some volunteers, like Justin, use their special talents to boost our programming, while others are happy shelving books and leading tours,” shares Ellis.
A senior at MSU Billings, Pallo is currently pursuing a biology degree with a chemistry minor, in hopes of going to medical school. He gained his Spanish-speaking abilities while living in Argentina for two years and continued the practice as a medical translator at a local clinic in Utah.
“It is a beautiful thing to speak to people in their own tongue,” comments Pallo. “You gain compassion for others as you strive to learn their language.”
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