Meet Eric!

Originally from Hilliard, Ohio, Eric Kelley’s mother works in a Columbus-area library. So, it wasn’t a stretch for Eric to seek out local libraries as a stay-at-home dad eight years ago. When his son was born, Eric visited Dayton Metro Library for storytimes and other child-centric events, frequenting the Wilmington-Stroop, Kettering-Moraine, and West Carrollton Branches, and the Main Library. Aside from attending various events, Eric and his family enjoy checking out books, movies, and CDs as do many of our patrons.

In August 2022, as Eric perused the Library website, he spotted a posting about Talk Tables for New Americans happening at the Wilmington-Stroop Branch. While attending a session, he struck up a conversation with the volunteer running the Talk Table about volunteer opportunities and was put in contact with DML Volunteer Services Manager, Amanda Arrington. Talk Tables have now become a more structured English class or program with a specific lesson plan and curriculum, titled ESL Classes (English Classes). Eric completed the required observations and training with DML’s New Americans Specialist, Gabriela Pickett, to be a facilitator who meets and welcomes patrons from all over the world to the Burkhardt Branch.

He also volunteers to perform as Cosmo or Pip, the Library mascots, entertaining families at large Library events across the system including at the Trotwood and West Branches, and the Main Library, as well as a few offsite events. Eric also helped to assemble Take and Make Kits during the Pandemic and has lent his time to the Oregon District 8/4 Mosaic Memorial at the Main Library.

Outside of his volunteer efforts, Eric enjoys what he refers to as “Gorilla Crafting” with his scroll saw, which he also learned to use via Library programming! He rejects the idea of doing more “practical” projects with his woodworking. Instead, he finds joy in the process of creating things that make people laugh. One recent project was a set of giant flowers that he created with his son and daughter for their teachers at school, in the hopes of also instilling a joy for giving in his children.

When asked why he chose to volunteer given his extremely active lifestyle as a stay-at-home dad, Eric says it is an opportunity to engage with the community in a way that allows him to tap into his values in an intentional and meaningful way. After the Pandemic, Eric looked for a way to create connections and joy while he had the opportunity and flexibility.

He encourages others to volunteer because it is simply, “a good thing.” He believes it is good to be a part of something not attached to work or a career field but to core values instead. When deciding whether to volunteer, he would encourage others to consider their personal values and what is important to them and to let that guide them to where and how they volunteer.

Thank you, Eric for your 155 hours of volunteer service!