April 24, 2005 – Angela East Weber started organizing the second year of childrens Story Hours in February. Even with the events months away, the emotion in her voice portrayed the enthusiasm she felt in exposing youngsters to reading.
She has a philosophy about why it is important to "give back to your community."
For her the perfect way to give back is working with youngsters. In an April interview she said she has always enjoyed working with youngsters. She started helping and guiding those younger than her 20 years ago. As a teen she was a member of her 4-H Club in a small town in central Virginia. She was a three-time state champion equestrian and enjoyed passing her expertise on to younger 4-H members, offering encouragement and providing motivation.
Now she enjoys passing on her love of reading to youngsters from three to 12 years old at story times in Christiansted.
Her story hour program brings some of her fundamental beliefs together. For instance, of community leaders
Weber says, "As leaders, whether it is through elected office or through our professional positions, we have a civic responsibility. This responsibility extends beyond monetary donations – I believe that the examples we set forth through volunteering and/or mentoring is equally instrumental to the overall well being of a community."
So, she does her best to enlist community leaders into her reading program. Last year Delegate Donna M.Christensen was one of her readers as was Anna Hector, president of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce.
"Giving of your time and energy can inspire greatness leading by example sets the tone for future generations," Weber says. "I hope that the seasonal story hour series can provide a positive influence as far as the rewards of reading but also by witnessing first hand adults who have succeeded yet find the time to share."
It is not difficult for Weber to acknowledge who led her to be the person she is and instilled in her the values she has her parents, Bob and Karen East. Webers mother, Karen, has spent 35 years teaching and doing volunteer work for elementary school students.
So when she needed help with her reading program Weber knew where to turn.
This year because of her mother's help and that of the librarian in her hometown every youngster who comes to the reading programs will get a free book.
Weber says over a 1,000 brand-new books have arrived and more are on the way, adding that working together like this with her mother has been very special it brings them together although they remain miles apart.
As for what books are actually read to the youngsters at the story time that is really up to the volunteer reader. However, Weber says she is willing to assist anyone having a hard time making a choice.
The two programs put on at the gazebo on the Christiansted waterfront on Saturday mornings last year each attracted about a dozen youngsters. Angela said the program would not be the success it is if it was not for the help of her friend Gladys Gonzalez. Gonzalez volunteers her time and supplies to create all promotional material used for the event.
Weber says, "You always want to see growth. I would like the program to get bigger but I don't want to see us lose the intimate atmosphere that we have now between the reader and the youngsters."
This year she plans four programs and they will alternate between the gazebo in Christiansted and the one in Frederiksted.
Weber puts a lot of energy into the program and refers to herself as a "youth advocate," but she has a real job to deal with, too. She presently serves as the staff accountant for V.I. Rum Industries.
She says she likes her job because "The company's values about giving back to the community are in line with my own values."
The 37-year-old is also continuing her education. She is currently a candidate for a master's degree in business administration degree from Amberton University; her degree focus is strategic leadership.
She received her bachelor's degree from Old Dominion University. At the university she became involved in student government and ended up being elected student body president. She ended her term with a farewell address at the 1996 commencement. Speaking before 15,000 people she quoted Gandhi. "We must be the change we wish to see in the world."
She says this remains her personal motto.
Weber moved to St. Croix with her husband Michael in 1997. He is a captain on a charter boat to Buck Island.
The couple enjoys sailing and is rebuilding a Rhodes 19 to race together locally. They also like to cook and take leisurely walks, combing the beach for natural treasures.
In her 4-H days she also found a love for public speaking and that is still part of her life.
Weber was named 2004 Business Advocate of the Year in the Virgin Islands for her efforts as a speaker and trainer.
Weber has spoken with numerous groups throughout the region, hoping to influence participants to strive for professional excellence. She says her personal passion is to ignite energy and initiative in those she meets.
One place she spoke last year was the opening of offices for the V.I. Resource Center for the Disabled in Christiansted. She chairs the Business Advisory Council for the center.
Weber has come a long way to initiate the change she wants to see in the world — from her home in Stuarts Draft, Va.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.