Women of Excellence Awards

  • Women of Excellence Award for East Haven

  • Sarah Mallory

    Congratulations to Sarah Mallory for being the East Haven recipients of the Women of Excellence Awards!

  • Location: Woodwinds 29 Schoolground Road Branford, CT 06405 Date/Time Information: Wednesday, October 10, 2018 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

    Event Description:
    2018 Annual Women of Excellence Awards

    Join the 6 Shoreline Chambers in honoring 8 Women. The Annual Women of Excellence Awards is a celebration of one woman’s accomplishments from each of the following towns: East Haven, Branford, North Branford, Guilford, Madison, Clinton, Killingworth and Old Saybrook.

    Particpating Chambers of Commerce include: Clinton | East Haven | Killingworth | Madison | Old Saybrook | Shoreline

  • Sarah Mallory is the Teen Services and Young Adult Librarian at Hagaman Library in East Haven. She is also a part-time Reference Librarian at Blackstone Library in Branford, and an active member of both communities. You can find her at most town-wide events—from fireworks to fall festivals—fostering friendships and engaging with the community she loves.

    Sarah grew up in East Haven and, in fact, Hagaman is where her lifelong love of books began. Visiting the library with her parents as a little girl, Sarah read veraciously. So much so that, when she was six, she won a top prize for most books read—a bubblegum machine—in the Summer Reading Contest. And while that may have been the year her future career was decided, there were many other stops along the way.

    Sarah is also an animal advocate who has fostered and rehabilitated numerous cats, kittens, and other animals over the past 20 years, helping them to find permanent, loving homes. Her own home is shared with a rescue dog named Penny Lane and a handicapped cat named Miracle Pig (who tackles life’s challenges in a specially made kitty-wheelchair). And while Sarah started college as a pre-vet student, she eventually decided that animal rescue was her passion, but not her future career path. Helping the people in her community was just as important to Sarah as helping animals.

    After earning her BA degree in Anthropology and Archaeology with a minor in Women’s Studies, Sarah returned to East Haven in 2005 to explore her career options. She began volunteering with the Branford Assembly of the International Order of Rainbow for Girls, a community service organization for teens that promotes leadership and community activism for girls ages 11-20. In working with this group—in helping teens to plan fundraisers for their community and encouraging them to explore their interests, to reach for their dreams, to embrace their talents—Sarah finally felt she was embracing her own gifts, as well.

    Once she discovered how much she loved working with youth, Sarah enrolled in the Masters’ of Information and Library Science program at Southern Connecticut State University, and began working at Hagaman Library, first as a library assistant and, after she began to plan events for teens, as the Teen Services Librarian.

    As the Teen Librarian, Sarah took over a Teen Advisory Group started by the former Library Director, Karen Jensen, with just a handful of middle school students and a plan—to get teens more involved at Hagaman Library. Sarah began expanding the Hagaman Teen Advisory Group, or HTAG, in 2013 into a group with over 20 active members and a waiting list for membership. Through this club, teens earn community service hours while, at the same time, developing a personal relationship with the library that will last into their adult lives. They also have an opportunity to interact with their peers in a safe environment—Sarah’s first rule is “everyone gets along in the library”—a rule which is especially important for teens who are struggling with bullying, are homeschooled, or are otherwise looking for a place to fit in. Sarah’s goal is to create an environment where teens feel welcome and, moreover, where they want to belong. “If they are welcome here,” Sarah says, “if we invite them, give them worthwhile and interesting things to do, they will come. They will come to the library, and use our resources, and learn, and grow here. And we’ll learn from them, too.”

    Fostering this friendly environment—in which teens are not only welcome to attend, but encouraged to take an active role—has led to a number of new opportunities for teens in the town of East Haven. This has included book clubs, reading challenges, and from 2015-2017, a chance to participate in a National Book Award Panel, the Teens’ Top Ten. Administered by the American Library Association, this panel allowed our local teens to share their opinions on a national stage, having their book reviews read by publishers and librarians across the country. And while opportunities like the Teens’ Top Ten are on a large scale, some others are quite small—small as a butterfly.

    This summer, for example, Sarah took on the role of “foster mom” to a flock of fledgling Monarch Butterflies. And while this might sound like an unusual role for a librarian, it began in the same way as most of Sarah’s programs do—with a teen who was passionate about a subject, and wanted to learn something new. When high school student Daniella Portal approached Sarah about partnering on a Senior Research Project on Monarch Butterflies being added to the Endangered Species List, Sarah could tell she was excited about her subject. Together they created a program for the community. And while the program was attended by 43 people, and a butterfly release on September 7 was attended by 23 more, one teen got to see her ideas come to life; to make a measurable difference in the world. For Sarah, that was just as valuable of a service for the library to provide. “We’re nurturing a future generation of kind, engaged, intelligent citizens in East Haven,” Sarah says, “but we’re also encouraging future leaders—the next generation of men and women of excellence.” By providing teens with opportunities to lead and to follow, Sarah is working towards this goal.

    Perhaps the program that has provided the most leadership opportunities for teens at Hagaman Library is Sarah’s Teen Coffee House and Open Mic Night: a seasonal, after-hours event at the library which encourages middle, high school, and college students to showcase their talent in front of a supportive audience of their peers. And with average attendance of 50-60 teens per event, it’s a program that is certainly reaching its target audience. Acts have included singers; a cappella performances; song-writers; guitar, bass, piano, trumpet, and ukulele players; poets; short-story writers; standup comedians; and even a heavy metal band. The coffee house also provides opportunities for teens to get involved in all aspects of planning and promoting, from creating flyers, to a decorating committee, to emceeing the program, itself. Further, it also provides a chance for the local community to come together to support the teens—local businesses including Dunkin Donuts, Petonito’s Bakery, and The Corner Stop Deli have all made donations to this event, which is also sponsored by the East Haven Youth Services Bureau. In many ways, this has become a town-wide opportunity for teens to embrace the arts, and Sarah couldn’t be more grateful for the adults and business who support the event, or prouder of the young adults who are brave enough to take the stage and share a piece of themselves with their community.

    Recently, Library Director Bruce George expanded Sarah’s role at Hagaman into a full-time position. As such, Sarah has been able to further expand the list of opportunities that Hagaman offers for teens. Sarah recently started a second community service club—a Junior Teen Advisory Group—to encourage middle school students to embrace civic engagement from a younger age. A third club—the Young Adult Advisory Squad—is providing high school graduates with a chance to stay involved at the library into their young adult years. With these three clubs working in conjunction, Hagaman can now provide a place for youth to belong throughout their adolescent years. As the teens who visit Hagaman Library—and their interests—change with time, so will the focus of the programs Sarah offers. But at its heart, teen programming is about providing opportunities for youth to find their place in the world; opportunities to lead; opportunities to follow; opportunities to belong. With Sarah Mallory as their librarian, teens will always belong at Hagaman Library.

    P.O. Box 120055 | East Haven, CT 06512 | 203.467.4305 | easthavenchamber01@gmail.com