Volunteer Spotlight on Karen Monson

Karen Monson, volunteer in the Grey Bears online book cove.

Born in Fargo, ND in 1943. “The winters are very cold and the summers are very hot. Fargo has its own unique beauty.”

Karen_MonsonFamily: “I got married, moved to Minneapolis in 1963, and ended up in Berkeley at the tail end of the psychedelic 60’s (yes we danced to The Grateful Dead). I went back to school and became a nurse in the 1970s.”

Tale of Two Careers: “While working as a hospice nurse I began teaching myself computer programming. This was before you needed a degree to work in the field. I was hired by a tech company as soon as they saw I knew my ones and zeroes. I found that these two seemingly disparate careers helped balance my life.”

Travel: “Computer programming can be done from anywhere, so it was easy for our family to travel and live in different parts of the world. When our daughters were just 2 and 4, my husband found a job in Vienna, Austria so we picked up and moved there! I’ve lived in many places: Minneapolis, Chicago, Austria, Berkeley, and eventually moved from New Mexico to Santa Cruz for the birth of my first granddaughter. I have two grandchildren who I love spending time with. The travel bug must be genetic as we just celebrated our eldest granddaughter going off to college in New York.”

On books: “Growing up, my family were all avid readers. I remember in 4th grade every Saturday my older sister and I would walk through the snow to the library and get as many books as we could carry home, and read them all.”

Best part about volunteering:  “I volunteer in the Grey Bears online book cove where we research and list a wide variety of books on on Amazon.com. Books are so interesting and are a reflection of the diverse community we live in.”

Why Grey Bears? It was different. I came in not knowing anything about the books program and I loved the people. I am a worker, I love to work! So, I gradually took on more and more responsibility. This work also requires an eye for detail just like computer programming. In many ways, Grey Bears is similar to nursing: we are caring for the community in a fundamental way. The Brown Bag Program brings healthy food to those who need it, including many who aren’t able to leave their homes.”

Hobbies: “What else…reading! I also love music and gardening. I enjoy planting things that don’t require a lot of care. If it survives, it stays in the garden.”