Celia Vollmer, of Brentwood.

Celia Vollmer, of Brentwood. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

When walking into the Brentwood Public Library, patrons instantly recognize Celia Vollmer as a familiar face.

“It’s incredible the amount of love they have for her,” said Michael Buono, head of reference and patron services.

Vollmer, 61, of Brentwood, is a community outreach clerk and safety officer. Her job involves going out into the community and explaining the library’s offerings, such as free law, immigration, language and mental health services.

But her work doesn’t stop there. Since 2006, Vollmer has volunteered with the Red Cross, which recruited her as part of a program to train local residents to run an emergency shelter.

The initiative was specific to Brentwood, Vollmer said, because it was considered a “low wealth district” where many are unable to stock up on supplies for emergencies.

Vollmer and other volunteers put their training into action during Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, when they operated an emergency shelter at Vollmer’s alma mater, Brentwood High School.

Hundreds of people fled to the school both times, as many lost power and “many homes were damaged in the community,” Vollmer said.

Operating the shelters inspired her to train to be a disaster action team member for all of Long Island for the Greater New York Region.

In the first fire she assisted at, she said she was “shocked” to learn it took place at the home of a library intern: “Their house was gone, and everybody was crying,” Vollmer said. “And he just said, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s Mrs. Vollmer. She’s here, everything’s gonna be OK.’ ”

The experience encouraged her to stay on with the Red Cross.

Vollmer has overseen multiple fire prevention programs, such as “Sound the Alarm,” in which free smoke alarms are installed in homes throughout the community. She also teaches CPR and first aid preparedness classes at the Brentwood library and throughout Long Island.

Last year, the library hosted “Prepare the Town,” an all-day event in which every course offered by the Red Cross was taught. Classes were run in English, Spanish and Creole.

“Celia was critical to making that happen,” Buono said. “And it’s always a relief knowing she’s involved because we know it’s gonna get done. . . . I am her supervisor, but she’s my mentor.”

Growing up in Brentwood as one of five children, Vollmer credits her mother for her passion for community service.

“My mother always emphasized that you may not have the financial resources to donate money,” she said. “But you always had time.”

Know a Long Islander who goes above and beyond or serves as an inspiration to their community? Nominate them for Hometown Hero by emailing Michael Ebert at michael.ebert@newsday.com.

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