This Is Rutherford
Rutherford Library Foundation Gala 2023 and Gala Honoree, Pat Wester
Updated: Feb 20
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Photo credits: Rutherford Public Library
The Rutherford Public Library Foundation, a non-profit 501c3 corporation committed to financially supporting the Rutherford Public Library. Throughout the years, the RPL Foundation has worked tirelessly to ensure that the RPL is equipped with the technology and other resources the community needs. To learn more about the Library Foundation, click here.
This is Rutherford interviewed the President, Kim Bogosian, and Vice-President, Krista Vellis of the Library Foundation to learn about their involvement and the upcoming Gala, their most profitable fundraising event.
TIR: When did you become involved with the Rutherford Public Library Foundation?
Krista Vellis: I’ve been involved with the library foundation for about ten years now. I witnessed many of the library enhancements the foundation donations helped fund. Today, the library has new furniture, an up-to-date computer system, and expanded library services and programming.
Kim Bogosian: In 2014, Foundation Board Member Jim Rizzo approached me about becoming a Foundation Board member. I was honored to be asked and am glad he brought me the opportunity to volunteer.
TIR: During the pandemic, how was the Rutherford Public Library affected, especially financially?
KV: I’m proud to say that the library continued services during the pandemic. Our library director instituted a Grab-n-Go system where patrons could order their books online and then the staff place them in a paper bag to be picked up. The children and adult programs were still available through a variety of computer channels. We followed CDC guidelines when returning to ‘in-person’ services. Financially, the library was affected because all fundraising efforts stopped during Covid. The Rutherford Library Foundation couldn’t financially help with the capital expenses or enhance services and programming offered by the library. That’s why we’re excited for this year’s Library Gala. It’s a community building event that will raise money for a teen room at our library.
TIR: Which accomplishments of the Library Board make you feel proud?
KV: As a Foundation and Board member, I’m proud of how we assisted the library with their renovation. It was a large undertaking to move the children’s room upstairs, redesign the downstairs, and change the format of the third floor. We also helped to upgrade the computer system.
Mark Goldsack, Treasurer of the Rutherford Library Foundation, explained why being part of the Rutherford Library Foundation is rewarding, "Being on the Board of Directors of the RPL foundation allows me to help support a truly important institution in our community. Libraries continue to operate under strict financial constraints. Helping to raise money through the Foundation allows us to supplement the monetary needs of the library to ensure they can continue to offer exceptional services and programming to our community."
TIR: As President of the Foundation, what are some of the projects that you are spearheading this year?
KB: The Foundation's mission is to fund capital projects critical to the long term health and success of the Library. The concept of a space where teens will feel comfortable has long been discussed informally, and I'm thrilled that this year we are finally focusing on this as a project the Foundation can help fund. Last year, I was part of a strategic planning committee formed by Library Director, Gretchen Corsillo that sought to identify how the Library could best serve the community. Public feedback confirmed our observation that teenagers are underserved at the Library. I think we all agree that a large segment of the teen population, especially those who aren't busy with sports after school, would benefit from a public space where they can feel safe and welcome.
TIR: The Library Gala is coming up on March 25th. Can you tell us more about this event?
KB: This is going to be one of the biggest Gala's we've had in several years. Like everyone else, we had to shelve our annual gala, which is the Foundation's primary fundraising venture, for a few years during COVID. Last year, it was still a smaller event than we're used to and I'm confident the 2023 Gala will be amazing. Il Villaggio is one of the best venues you'll find for an event like this and we'll have live music from Rutherford's own James McGill. To purchase tickets for the Gala, use this link.
TIR: This year’s Gala Honoree is Pat Wester who has served on the Board for 25 years. Why are excited to honor Pat this year?
KV: I’ve had the privilege of sitting on the Library Board and Foundation Board with Pat.
She is one of the most dedicated and driven people I have ever met. For years, she has maintained an officer position on both boards. Pat has helped the library with the relocation of the children’s room, transitioning to new library directors, the opening of the Bulldog Academy, the redesign of the library, and helped keep the library running during Covid.
Pat supports all library events. You can find her at the library checking out books, chatting with staff members, volunteering her expertise, and attending The Friends of the Library of Rutherford fundraising activities. (Be sure to check out their miniature golf event on March 3rd and 4th, click here to purchase tickets). With over twenty-five years of service, I can’t imagine a more deserving honoree.
KB: As an institution, the Library has many facets to it. It is governed by a Mayoral appointed Board of Trustees. Then there are two distinct non-profit fundraising wings that support the Library and supplement it financially: The Foundation, which focuses on funding larger capital projects, and the Friends of the Library, whose fundraising efforts support classes and programming. Incredibly, over the past 25 years, Pat has not only served on all three of these Boards, but she has been in important leadership roles nearly the whole time. That amount of dedication to a singular institution is amazing and worthy of recognition.
"The Foundation helps make the library's goals a reality by providing necessary advocacy and financial support. For example, my team and I have observed a need for a dedicated teen space in the library. The creation of this space would be difficult on our operating budget alone, but the Foundation has graciously agreed to help provide support for this endeavor. Their fundraising helps us serve the Rutherford community effectively," explained RPL Director Gretchen Corsillo.
Click here to read This is Pat Wester.
TIR: What are some of the ways our community can support the Rutherford Public Library Foundation?
KV: Attend Foundation events. All the proceeds go to the library. This year we are fundraising for a teen room. This will give a place for teens gather, read, and complete their homework. March 25th we are hosting a Gala. It’s a wonderful way to socialize with other community members, dance, and support the library. We hope to see you there.
KB: Not only attend the Gala, but tell your friends and neighbors about it. Bring people who may not be familiar with how modern day libraries are really 21st century community centers, and how important that is to the health of a town. If you can't make the Gala, donations are gladly accepted throughout the year. With the current teen space project, anyone who donates to the Foundation now will be part of creating something that will be there for Rutherford's kids for many years .
TIR: Anything else you would like to add?
KV: I’m constantly amazed by our library staff and director. They are constantly coming up with ways to keep our library current. I’ve witnessed them revamping our digital content to meet patrons’ interests, teaching residents how to work a hotspot, helping citizens navigate computer programs, and sharing the museum pass information with families. They ask for patron feedback to cater library programming around the needs and wants of residents. And most importantly, they provide a warm and inviting place for those who want to read and learn.