Ben Statham is President of the Friends of the Alpharetta Library, a nonprofit volunteer organization, who has been volunteering with the Atlanta-Fulton Library System for more than 20 years.
Many years ago, an annual book sale was organized by the Friends to raise money for the Alpharetta Library. The sheer volume of the books donated and the extreme popularity of the sales caused it to burgeon into a monthly event. These monthly book sales have now occurred for about fifteen years, with Ben at its helm. Ben, strictly as a volunteer, has created a hard working team of about thirty other dedicated volunteers who work throughout the month to collect, categorize, stock shelves, price books, research books on the internet, and then work at the Saturday sales. The volunteers include all ages of individuals from high school students to two 80+ year old women. Many of the volunteers have been working at the sales since the sales first started.
Ben has been in charge of the logistics of the sales since their inception, a job that includes collecting book donations from various sources (including a recycling center that currently yields an entire pickup truck load of books every single day), sorting countless boxes of books by genre, moving those boxes to a storage facility, and working the monthly sales which includes set up during the week before the sales and clean up after the sales. Each sale day is a grueling 12 hour day which he actually finds “relaxing.” He tirelessly volunteers an average of 140 to 150 hours per month.
When elderly individuals want to donate books but do not have transportation to bring them to the donation sites, Ben picks up the books at their homes. Ben receives great joy when he is able to place a book in someone’s hands that will enable them to broaden their own horizons. The Friends have set up a book cart at the local City Hall and he frequently visits a large grocery store that employs many international people and he joyfully gives them books to help them learn English. Also, a book cart with books for sale is continually at the library so patrons throughout the month have an opportunity to purchase books.
The proceeds from the books sales are used to supplement the budget of the Alpharetta Library in the form of books, videos, magazines, tapes, author’s programs, children’s summer programs and staff appreciation tokens. Several thousand dollars are donated yearly to supply these much needed supplies. Any of the circulating items purchased by the Friends for the Alpharetta Library are accessible upon request throughout any of the thirty-four branches of the Library System. Along with the many items purchased, the Friends yearly give three scholarships to graduating high school seniors. They also participate in the Books for Soldiers program where several thousand paperbacks are mailed to our servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The work that Ben does with the book sales and the many directions in which he has extended that work provide important public services to the community; they enable books to be recycled and re-loved, they promote literacy and goodwill among all age groups and nationalities, and they set an example for the community in the importance of volunteering and how volunteer work can impact a community. Ben does all of this with a joyful heart. He is an unselfish, dedicated volunteer who, through his tireless efforts, is making a difference in many people’s lives. Besides the library work and his full-time job, he devotes many hours per year to environmental issues, particularly water quality issues.
He was awarded the President’s Call to Service Award in 2005 for donating over 4,000 hours of volunteer work for the library. He never expects more from others than he is willing to give. He would be the first to say that volunteering does more for him than he does for it! He does not volunteer for personal gain. He does not volunteer for monetary reasons. Ben volunteers because he wants to make a difference in people’s lives. He is truly an example of an unselfish, compassionate and dedicated man who IS making a difference in the lives of many people.