Poudre River Public Library District’s Anne Million is the 2021 recipient of the Human Relations Award for Public Service Personnel from the City of Fort Collins Human Relations Commission (HRC). Since 2018, Million has been instrumental in fostering educational and social opportunities for newcomers and English language learners in our community.
“Anne’s work, first as a library volunteer and now as a staff member, comes from personal passion and a deep dedication to supporting the community’s English language learners,” says Ken Draves, the Library District’s interim executive director. “Her library programs and services have helped individuals not only build their language skills but also develop peer connections, strengthen community bonds, and achieve personal and professional success.”
Million was honored for her work establishing the Library’s weekly Conversations in English group and for creating an ESL Mentoring service, which pairs volunteer mentors and learners based on targeted personal and professional goals and relevant experience. The ESL Mentoring program serves learners by offering a source of social capital in the form of knowledge and access to community resources and people. Learners have gone on to reach goals that include becoming a U.S. citizen, finding new careers and internships, pursuing higher education, and much more.
Nearly 75 people have taken part in the Conversations in English group, and dozens of ESL learners and mentors have found personal and professional success through the program.
“Two years ago, I came to America and began to learn English. By studying hard, I can communicate with others in English now, and I found a job this year; I am now a school bus driver at PSD,” says Jian “Kevin” Chen, one of the participants in the ESL Mentoring service. “Anne is a mentor and helper for every student.”
Yareni Herrera is working toward becoming a nurse in the U.S. “The program is helping me a lot, and I feel very close to reaching my goal. Also, I feel more confident with my English now,” says Herrera. “I never thought I could do a presentation in English but now I can. Anne is one of the first people who believed in me, and I am very grateful for the mentoring I’ve received.”
“Anne has a unique skill set that combines excellent managerial skills with a sincere personal touch that is quite motivating,” says Dan Chilson, a volunteer mentor with the ESL Mentoring service. “Anne’s strong commitment to the learners is apparent and she consistently provides excellent guidance to the mentors.” The Human Relations Award is presented annually to individuals and organizations in our community that work to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition to the Public Service Personnel Award, the HRC presents the Individual Award, Youth Award, and Organization Award.