The Friends of the Pima-Green Valley Library partnered with Hughes Federal Credit Union this year, adding $14,700 to its program coffer.

All the Friends had to do was open a $50 savings account, Carol Bates-Smith said, treasurer of the club. 

When Hughes issued a car loan, the patron could purchase a year-long Friends membership for only $10. From January through February, the Friends of Green Valley collected all of the proceeds. Since March, the local group still gets between $20 and $80 each month, Bates-Smith said.

Striking a partnership with the Friends is simply part of the National Credit Union philosophy of “people helping people,” Dani Gomez said, marketing manager at Hughes.

They have partnered with multiple Friends’ branches for more than 20 years, including in Oro Valley, Pima County and now Green Valley, she said.

“Hughes offers this program as a way for people to gain membership to our credit union and give back to the communities we serve,” Gomez said.

The extra financing will fund special projects, she said. Although the final decision hasn’t been made, some programs that may receive the boost include: the GED diploma program, which helps local people earn their degree; purchasing special shared-use equipment like Ozobots, which teach basic computer coding skills. The Friends will finalize which programs will get extra funding on July, 17. 

Bates-Smith, who’s held her treasurer position for 12 years, said Hughes approached the group in the past, but they weren’t sure how the program worked. At first, the group was a little skeptical about the offer, Bates-Smith said with a laugh. This year the Friends met with the credit union’s marketing team and gave it a go, she said. 

But it feels great to find out that a local business wanted to help the Friends for the sake of giving back, she added. 

“And it really takes a burden off of us from the standpoint of, if our members don’t come through or if our books don’t sell, we’ve still got some money to deal with,” Bates-Smith said. 

The only catch is Hughes is asking how the money gets spent, she added.

The Friends of Green Valley fund all of the paid programming offered at the local county branch. If a program is free, the Friends will donate $1,000 to that particular organization each year. 

The Friends’ budget this year is $25,192, which will support all adult, teen and children’s programs in the Green Valley and Sahuarita libraries. 

Local residents can become paid members of the group, which affords them early entry to book sales at their two bookstores and updates on local happenings at the library. 

Memberships fees are offered on multiple tiers: friend $25; patron $50; sponsor $75; benefactor $100; and life member $500.

Currently, the Friends of Pima-Green Valley has more than 50 volunteers and about 1,000 paid members.

Every August, they give away 1,000s of children’s books to local educators. The shelves are left bare in about three hours, she explained.

They also host an annual sale during the first weekend in December, to help bridge the gap for people struggling to celebrate the season, she said.

Volunteers from Two Men and a Truck Tucson, an international franchise moving company, drive to Green Valley to help load and unload books for both occasions.

“And we just think that they are absolutely marvelous,” Bates-Smith said.

But the efforts of the bookstore volunteers cannot be understated, she added. 

“The volunteers are all great people, they all get along really well and they love helping people,” Bates-Smith said. “They’re people who love to read, and that’s a good thing.”

David J. Del Grande 547-9732

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