First-ever Mayor’s Volunteer Award recipient honored

ARLINGTON – Thanks to Arlington volunteer Charleen O’ Neal, the library is a friendlier place for all ages, the food bank has brown bag lunches for waiting clients, and the arts community is thriving.

As a result, O’ Neal became the first recipient of the new Mayor’s Volunteer Award at the City Council meeting Monday.

O’ Neal volunteers as much as 90 hours a month at different venues in the Arlington-Smokey Point area, assistant city administrator Heather Logan said.

She has served as vice president of Friends of the Arlington Library for three years. Five days a week, she sorts and restocks books in the Friends’ book sale. She also bakes treats for the lobby book sale quarterly and pitches in at the book garage sale.

O’Neal founded and staffs the Children’s Storybook Garden Program at the library. Each program has an educational, garden and art component. Three years in, the program is now at 40 children – and their parents – as they learn about growing food, creativity and library resources.

At the food bank, O’ Neal is part of the Brown Bag Brigade, a group that packs and distributes up to 60 lunches each Thursday for people waiting in line.

She joined the Arlington Arts Council board two years ago and has volunteered at Arts Council events and the annual dinner auction.O’Neal also donates time at the Arlington Boys and Girls Club, helping students with art projects.

On her own time, the helping others doesn’t stop. O’Neal helps a local disabled woman who cannot leave her home. O’Neal visits her, and keeps her stocked with art supplies.

The new award recognizes Arlington residents for their volunteer contributions and commitments to community service. To nominate someone, visit the Mayors Volunteer Recognition Program page at arlingtonwa.gov/index.aspx?page=556.