The following is the text of my speech at the Pines Manor on December 3, 2015 where I presented Elena Saroka of the East Brunswick Public Library with a Certificate of Award that I nominated her for. The occasion was the annual Libraries of Middlesex Award reception which recognized a dozen library staff members who have earned distinction throughout their respective facilities.
I say every year how much of an affinity I’ve had with libraries but in no year has that been more the case than this. I’ve been working for several years now on a three volume book, The Trials and Tribulations of Being A Brad Pitt Lookalike (laughter). I buttoned my jacket so you can’t see it (laughter).
I can honestly say that I have spent more time in the libraries this year than some of the people who work there. A couple have been the college libraries. But I want to give a shout-out to the libraries in the county I’ve used: Jamesburg, Monroe, Cranbury, East Brunswick, North Brunswick and of course, South Brunswick, my hometown. For the Northern part of the county, don’t feel left out. If I haven’t been to your library I’m on the way.
The libraries are composed of so many wonderful people who are always willing and able to assist but one jumps out as extraordinary. Elena Saroka has been at the East Brunswick Library for nine years.
I’m in a unique position tonight. While I attend this dinner every year as a representative of State Senator Linda Greenstein, I don’t actually sit on the committee that nominates people for the Middlesex County Library Awards. In fact, Cheryl tells me than in at least 18 years, no one outside the committee has nominated someone. So it is an exceptional set of circumstances that finds me here tonight but Elena is an exceptional person.
How to describe Elena. I am a child of the 1980s and recently came across some old-commercials on line. It was for Delta Airlines. A young girl – couldn’t have been more than six, was helped off the plane by a flight attendant and ran toward her grandparents. Then she ran back toward the flight attendant and gave her a hug. She told her grandparents, “that’s my new friend.” And that’s how many in the library – patrons and fellow employees, feel about Elena.
Elena approaches her job with courtesy and a smile. Whenever I have a computer issue or don’t know how to work a program I am using, she tries to figure out the answer even if it’s tough. She almost always figures it out and even on the few occasions that she can’t, literally tries everything. That brings me to her accessibility. The East Brunswick Library has one area of computers that is in a quiet room and that is quite a walk from the desk where Elena sits. At times I felt bad about making her walk when I have a question but Elena never frowns when I tell her I need help
In closing, Elena is a valued person and a tremendous asset to all of the patrons of the East Brunswick Public Library and she deserves this and other accolades she will no doubt receive throughout her career
At the end of my speech, I recognized Elena’s husband Ken, the “baby-sitter in chief” for their two daughters when Elena works nights.