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In the wake of municipal budget cuts and layoffs, unpaid community volunteers like Thomas Shannahan are stepping up to fill in the gaps at libraries, prisons and police stations across the country.
When the library in bankrupt Central Falls was forced to close, Thomas Shannahan returned to his old job as library director for no pay after seven years off the job. Volunteers shelve books, run children’s programs and even do janitorial work. Donations — including $10,000 from Alec Baldwin — have poured in, but Shannahan says unpaid staffers can be unpredictable.
“I have a core group that has stayed with me from the beginning, and if it wasn’t for them, it would be a nightmare,” Shannahan said.
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