Each year the Friends of the Homer Public Library honor a community member who has made a lifelong commitment to acquiring an exceptional skill or knowledge—a person who is always trying something new and sharing what they have found with others and who has an infectious passion for learning and exploration. This year Milli Martin has been selected for the 2017 Lifelong Learner Award. Nominated by Daisy Lee Bitter, Milli Martin has lived a life of service that has “involved an immense amount of reading and research” (Bitter). She has served on the Kenai Peninsula Board of Education, including acting as President. In addition, she served on the Kenai Peninsula Colleges’ Advisory Council, as well as the KBBI Board of Directors, and Homer Parks and Recreation. Each position that she has taken on has required a dedicated spirit of learning and personal growth.
When asked why it is important to continue to learn throughout a person’s life, Martin said “keep the mind active. It wants to be and we need to feed it. To me that is as important as staying physically active. Which I do. I hope I can keep learning until the day I breathe my last.” Currently she is interested in history, both historical novels and life stories, adventures, and “catching up with religious figures associated with my church, such as the fascinating history about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I love his writings—I do speak, read and write German.” Milli Martin exemplifies what it means to be a Lifelong Learner, and to be engaged in the world around her.
Eryn Gillam is this year’s Youth Learner Award Winner. In her nomination, her teacher Amy Johnson writes, “Eryn has impressed me with her dedication to education and furthering herself.” Eryn has been involved in band, Drama, Debate and Forensics (DDF), and is a role model in the Music In the Schools Concerts. This past winter, Eryn was the assistant director for the Big Read’s School Production of “Our Town”, sponsored by the Friends of the Homer Library. She volunteers regularly at the library, helping Youth Services Librarian Claudia Haines with The Summer Reading Program, The Maker Club, as well as assisting with after school tutoring. Haines writes “Her attention to detail, self-direction, reliability, insight have made her invaluable.” Eryn has also participated in the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program for the past few years. She was recently accepted into MIT.
Celebration of Lifelong Learning is the biggest fundraiser for Friends of the Homer Library. This year the keynote speaker is former State Writer Laureate, Frank Soos. His books include Bamboo Fly Rod Suite, Unified Field Theory, and most recently, Unpleasantries: Considerations of Difficult Questions.
Catering will be provided by Wild Honey Bistro, Eric Fenger will play live music, and The Trivia Tree will be adorned with questions from a variety of community members.