Idyllwild Librarian Shannon Houlihan Ng said her nearly five years in Idyllwild have changed her in ways she never expected. “I’ve always been focused and running at full speed,” she observed. “My concept of home has always been where my family and my people are.” But even with her children and grandchildren living off the Hill, Ng said Idyllwild is having a profound effect on her. “I feel so at home here,” she noted. “I’m not striving the way I used to because I’ve found my place here.”
As a military “brat,” Ng said she had always experienced the “itch” to move or do something new every three years. “Children of the military understand that need to move on,” she said. As a child of an Air Force pilot, Ng said she attended seven elementary schools, and at age 12, was living in Tripoli, Libya, at the time of the Gadaffi coup. “That’s what got us out of there. Moving is what we did as a family.”
But now, in Idyllwild, she feels peacefully settled, and is directing her energies to creating a vital program of activities at the Idyllwild Library and to volunteering across a broad spectrum of platforms. “I’m getting out of my comfort zone and stretching myself,” she said.
Ng recently moderated two forums in Idyllwild — one, a Riverside County 3rd District supervisor candidate forum at the Nature Center and an Idyllwild Water District election forum at Town Hall. “I’d never done that before,” she said. Ng received great notices from audiences at both for her tact, composure and professionalism in giving candidates ample time to speak while still keeping them focused on the questions posed.
She is moving into her second year as a member of the Idyllwild Community Fund Advisory Committee and is currently recording secretary.
She is learning meditation as part of a group led by Monique Zander and is looking forward to finding time to hike and explore Idyllwild’s high country. As a child, Ng had horses and rode constantly. “I miss that,” she said.
Ng is an innovator, propelled by intellectual curiosity and a desire to contribute, to teach and to expand opportunities for learning. She has brought new programs to the Idyllwild Library, including an annual children’s film series as part of the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema. She recently added a program for kids and adults called “Random Acts of Holiday Kindness.”
For the month of December, participants check off acts of kindness on a printed calendar and then come back to the library from Jan. 3 to 9 for treats and surprises. The random acts are sweet and small, such as bringing the Forest Service a treat, cheering someone up with kind words and giving a friend a compliment. The calendar reminds children and adults of how we can be better connected as a community and that it really is the little things that count and bring us together.
“I’m always looking at opportunities to do something new,” said Ng.
For Ng, volunteering and contributing are keystones of a life lived well. “Volunteering is essential to everyone’s character,” she said. “It’s a strong part of being a citizen. Ng is an American Red Cross CPR trainer and has been active with the American Cancer Society’s Relay of Life and the National Charity League, and has served for many years in many leadership capacities with the Girls Scouts of America.
But for all her accomplishments in her professional and personal life (teacher, librarian, law librarian, business manager, wife, mother and grandmother), it is her present life in Idyllwild that continues to amaze her. “There is something very special about this place and the people in it,” she said. “It’s very different from other places I have lived. My goal is not to say ‘no’ to anything without at least trying it.”
Ng is getting out of her comfort zone, growing in new ways and experiencing the “Idyllwild effect.”