Spring has sprung in Colusa County and with it comes a time of renewed energy and new growth. For Princeton resident, Mary Beth Massa, who always enjoys the beautiful weather, spring represents the busiest and most active time of her year.
Massa spends her time and energy on projects supporting the local library system and singing in a female Barbershop Quartet.
In 1957, Massa moved to Princeton with her family where her father had been hired as Superintendent for the Princeton School District.
“In those days, because teachers and administrators were required to live in the community where they served, the schoolhouse became our home,” Massa explained.
When Massa and her family arrived at the small riverside town, her first impression was the astonishing heat. Having lived in Leggett, California, she was acclimated to the moderate temperatures. Over the years, she learned to cope with the summer temperatures by escaping to a small lakeside cabin in the Sierras or to a family home on the coast on weekends.
While attending the Princeton School District, Massa often used the small, one-room, public library that was built in 1916. She felt that Princeton’s residents deserved a modern library with better resources; so she eagerly accepted the opportunity to establish the new branch library.
“The old library had no functioning bathroom, which made things difficult at times,” said Massa.
In 1974, a newly constructed library complete with indoor plumbing was dedicated and opened its doors to patrons.
Massa was hired at the Princeton branch library and has provided her services to either a paid employee of the county or as a volunteer.
“Over the years, funding for libraries went away and came back. When it wasn’t possible for the county to employ me, I volunteered my time,” she explained.
Massa currently serves as Library Aide and supervises the branch’s weekly operation on the two days it is open.
Massa is also a long-time member of The Friends of the Library, an organization that provides financial support through fundraising to the County Library system. With her experience in the county library system, she has learned that there are needs not covered by the County library budget.
“At each of our monthly meetings, there is always an agenda item that allows the county library to request funds for various unmet needs at both the central and branch libraries,” she said, “We are always happy to help our libraries get what they need to provide the best services to our community.”
Massa also volunteers at The Bookworm, the Friends of the Library’s used bookstore located at 440 Market Street in Colusa.
Massa’s passion for music, singing and her talents as a choreographer are put to good use as a member of Chico’s Sounds of the Valley Chorus, a women’s Barbershop Quartet.
The group of women from Chico and the surrounding counties have performed together for over 30 years and travel together to Sparks, Nevada each May for a regional competition.
“We practice together in Chico and then every year we put together a two to three member musical skit. I do all of the choreography for the skit,” she said, “We enjoy it very much, but our 29 members are competing with choruses that have a hundred or more members. One of our goals is to bring in new and younger members to ensure that the group will continue since we all enjoy it so much.”
In addition to her library work, volunteering and fundraising for community resources, somehow Massa finds the time to play the organ at Princeton’s Catholic Church on Sundays and spends as much time as possible with her family.
Massa expressed her sincere gratitude for the recent abundance of support the community has given her since the passing of her beloved husband, Manuel.
“Princeton’s community spirit is so strong when it comes to looking out for each other in times of difficulty. Everyone cares takes notice and offers to help in whatever way they can.” Massa said, “Just the other day I was using a chainsaw to remove a tree in the yard, and my neighbor, who works just awful hours and is raising a family, noticed my struggle and stopped to ask if he could help me out. He doesn’t have time to do that but I know he is sincere, and I am grateful.”
Massa works tirelessly to ensure library resources are available to her fellow community members all while preserving her ability to give back to the community.