Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

{January 17, 2011}   “Let’s all go to the Lobby”…!

When I think about popcorn, it conjures up memories of shaking the jiffy pop over our gas stove, hearing the sizzle, seeing the steam and watching that tin foil blow up and smell just “mmmm so gooooood”….! Years later, I believe we graduated to an air pop popcorn machine…a staple of college dorms and a necessity during finals time for some.

I’ve always had a love relationship with popcorn. I remember sitting in the family station wagon, mom had loaded a small mattress in the back, and dad took the kids to watch Star Wars on the big screen. My sisters and brother and I ate buckets of popcorn that night under the stars as we watched Luke take out the Death Star.

Over the years, I’ve tried about all of them out there. Jiffy, Pop Secret, Orville. Movie Theater, Butter, Cheddar. I like my popcorn with a mixture of sour cream, butter, parmesian cheese and salt. Don’t shy away from it, don’t question it. It’s delicious and that’s all that needs to be said.

About two weeks ago, I had an impromptu meeting with a few of my high school life skills volunteers about goals for this semester. Last semester we focused on coming in to volunteer on time (they have bus transportation from school), signing in, badging up, getting on task, completing task, getting to a stopping point, signing out and catching the bus back to school. They were dusting, putting books away and all that goes with library tasks but what they were missing was the social component of volunteering and life skills.

That’s when we developed and created “Popcorn Fridays”. For an hour on Fridays, the students would pop popcorn in our adorable red popcorn machine, approach patrons, offer popcorn to adults and children, interact and clean up the machine and area. This also would progress into a job training skill where the students would then be able to go with a job coach, shadow or actually become employed at our local movie theater, or perhaps our parks concession stands.

Our first go was this past Friday. Amanda used WAY TO MUCH OIL! Ethan barked out “WOULD YOU LIKE SOME POPCORN” a little too aggressively causing adults and children to scatter,  and we lost Catherine a couple times when she went on “break” (I believe she felt she needed 2 breaks during the 45 minutes of actual popping).  A mild success but a great learning experience. We learned a lot about hygiene, a lot about using indoor voices and a lot about letting everyone know where we are going. It was a great time too.This was the hardest Ethan’s job coach had seen him work since she’s been with him the past 4 months.

We set up our popcorn machine right outside our Friends of the Library Shoppe in the Library lobby. The smell of popcorn hit everyone coming in on a cold January day. I was just happy that no human or kernel was burned on this maiden voyage.

I love doing things with people that are just out of the norm. Who said we have to have popcorn only at the movies? We now have “Popcorn Fridays” at the library and as the weeks go on …it’s only going to get butter…uh…I mean better… 🙂



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