Children love storytime with GC good neighbor, Tio Chuy

6/15/2014

By ANGIE HAFLICH

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Among his many names and titles, it is apparent that the name 'Tio Chuy' is Jesus Diaz's favorite.

"Do you know what Tio means in English? It means uncle, 'Uncle Chuy.' The kids run up to me yelling, 'Hi Tio Chuy, Hi Tio Chuy,'" Diaz said, adding that they always accompany the greeting with a big bear hug. "They run up, 'Oh Tio Chuy,'"

Diaz works at the Finney County Public Library through a Building Blocks grant.

"He's kind of maintaining our Nature Explore Center and the Family Place Learning Center. He takes care of that and kind of maintains that, and he also does the Spanish Storytime," said Jean Briggs, circulation supervisor.

Beginning last Wednesday, the library started offering Spanish Storytime, thanks to Diaz's help.

"While we have him, we're going to use his skills and that's the Spanish, so we'll see how the Spanish storytime goes," said Judy Cole, youth services supervisor.

Diaz got the job after asking FCPL Director Erin Francouer why they only had storytime available in English. Francouer thought offering it in Spanish was a great idea and, at first, Diaz started reading to kids in Spanish on a voluntary basis, last June. In December, Diaz had 260 kids show up for one of the events, followed by another large turnout in March.

"In March, Erin called me, 'Jesus would you come work for us,'" Diaz said.

When he isn't doing the Spanish Storytime, Diaz gives tours of the Family Place Learning Center and the Nature Explore Center.

He also types up a Spanish version of the library's flyer of events that goes on the back of the English version.

Diaz draws people in with his hearty laugh, infectious personality and his sharp sense of humor.

"Do you know how the Weather Channel says, 'Feels like 53,' but it was really 57 degrees, si? I'm like the Weather Channel. I feel like I'm maybe 45, but I'm actually older than that," he said and then laughed.

Not only does he speak English and Spanish, but he also speaks French.

"French and Spanish they call romantic languages, si? That's why I've been married four times. I'm very romantic," Diaz said and then laughed.

In addition to his position with the library, Diaz also works for a local Internet radio station called La Autentica, where he reports news and information a few days a week. He also works for Aflac, as a translator and salesman. Additionally, he helps local Hispanics with things such as getting their drivers' licenses.

With his busy schedule, his daughter, who is coming from Juarez, Mexico to visit him soon, asked how he will ever have time to spend with her.

"She told me, 'Dad, you start working at 7 o'clock in the morning you finish at 6 o'clock in the library, you go to the radio station at 7, you finish at 9 and then you have appointments Saturday and Sunday with Aflac — what day are you going to see me," he said, laughing.

Diaz has always been a hard worker. He was born in Acapulco and moved to the United States about 35 years ago. Prior to moving to Garden City five years ago, he lived in Oklahoma.

During Wednesday's second Spanish Storytime, Diaz read two books, 'Llama Llama Rojo Pijama,' which means 'Llama Llama Red Pajama,' and 'Maria had a Little Llama.' Before reading, he not only gave the kids instruments to play, but also their parents and then they all played along as Diaz and Cole led them in a song.

Diaz said the job at the library is right up his alley.

"I like working with kids, I like working with people," he said, smiling from ear to ear.

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