Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

{December 15, 2010}   First Impressions and Repeat Offenders…

Is it a good thing that Court Ordered Probation and Diversion Volunteers are coming back to me to get their hours for different offenses?

Glass half empty~ They didn’t learn their lesson? Glass half full~ They enjoyed their community service the first time with the library, they want to come back.

I actually have quite a few volunteers who finish their service only to want to stay on and continue to volunteer with us. I’ve always stated to everyone I talk with on both sides, I’m not in the punishment business. I’m not going to make our Court Ordered Community Service gang clean the bathroom floor with a toothbrush. I don’t brand them with a big CS on their chests in red and march them around the library like a chain gang.

We are a public building and as a public building, who knows what secrets we all have as we come in. The one thing we do all have in common is that we enjoy the library and what it has to offer the community. Now, we have limitations…No Sex Crimes, No Child Abuse and No Theft. I’m very firm on the Sex Crimes and Abuse, but theft is discretionary. As with all volunteers, I listen to their stories. I hold an interview with everyone that wants to volunteer for at least 45 minutes. I rely on first impressions. I like respect and kindness, a good sense of humor and honesty.

I also take Felons. It’s amazing what classifies someone as a felon, but if they are coming to me for probation, I have to think what classifies them as a felon might not be as bad as it sounds. I had a young man in his 30’s who was having dinner with his grandmother. She poured him a glass of wine, he took a sip, spilled some on his shirt, and then the phone rang. Her prescription was ready at the drug store up the street. He said he’d go get it for her, pulled in to the pharmacy drive through, the pharmacist knew him and as usual practice said, be careful…he pulled out of the pharmacy, didn’t use a turn signal and was pulled over for a traffic violation. The officer smelled the alcohol, searched his car and found a prescription not belonging to him. Felony possession among other things.

I guess you can make up that story, but it’s something that can easily happen to me as if I was getting something for my dad. I gave him a chance and he did a great job and is still with us as his time permits.

When I’d sign off on the final probation paperwork, I used to say “I hope I don’t see you anymore…”, now I just tell them to be careful out there and be good. I never know if they are going to come back!


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