Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

{April 23, 2011}   finding love…

I really really don’t like to be bullied, but I’ll get to that part later….instead, let me start off by telling you that every Wednesday between 10:00 am and 11:00 am, I’m told that I’m loved. I’m hugged, and reminded that I have been seeing Brad for “a long time, now”. It’s been about 5 years now that Brad has been a volunteer with me and about 10 years as a volunteer with the library.

Brad is a busy guy. He volunteers at the Zoo, a riding center for those with disabilities, Meals on Wheels, the Humane Society and I’m sure countless others. He bowls, he does art, he’s an uncle, and he loves to help and he loves to say I love you. He’s a hugger.

Saturday was Brad’s birthday and on Wednesday, when he came in to volunteer, he invited me to his birthday get together on Friday. I was scrambling as usual to get out of the office at 5:30 and make my way over to his group living condo by 6:30.  I was grabbing the phone number of his caretakers and shutting down when one of my co-workers rudely stomped into my office area telling me we were closing. She was so borderline bully/intimidator that I had to call her out on it. She was exact. We close precisely at 5:30. She was “in charge”. Are you kidding me? I was well aware that the library may be closing, but my work day wasn’t even close to ending. Take a chill pill.

I called up my girlfriend and asked her if she wanted to go to a special birthday party with me. Always interested in one of my crazy adventures, she couldn’t say no. She was so glad she went. The condo was amazing… 3,000 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, kitchen, common areas and enough storage space for every game and craft imaginable.

When children have disabilities and grow up into adults. Where do they go? What kind of independence do they have? What kind of independence do their parents have? Brad, lives with two housemates and with 24-hour a day staff. I asked where the staff sleep? Brad’s mom looked at me and replied…They don’t. Brad and his two housemates have 24 hour care, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

My girlfriend and I chatted with the other guests, I told them how Brad and I had met, what we do at the library, what opportunities we have at the library for them and others, ate Glutten, Dairy, Egg and Sugar Free Cake (…don’t ask) and really enjoyed our time there.

We drove out of the neighborhood, which was just like every other suburban neighborhood that you may drive by and marveled at the care, independence and family atmosphere that was just shared. We did have to pit stop for a juicy burger and fries…the cake just didn’t hit the spot like you would have thought…

I’ve been invited many many times before, and I don’t know why it took me 5 years to go to Brad’s parties and get togethers. I guess I didn’t know what to expect, I had prejudged the environment as sterile and institutional, cold and drab….downright scarey. Instead, I got homey and comfy and relaxed. One of Brad’s housemates is in a motorized wheel chair and the walls, although reinforced with steel still have dings and holes in the drywall where Brad’s mom had said Elaine had “creatively decided to decorate” the walls on her own with her chair.

Maybe I should have asked my co worker to go with me and learn a lesson in temperance, flexibility and kindness and being thankful for what we have, no matter what our needs. I was cranky when I left my office for the mood I was put in by her, but I wasn’t cranky when I left work where I represented the library at Brad’s house. I also got an “I Love You” and a hug from the whole “Brad Family”. I felt the love. I shared the love.

Maybe my co-worker’s not told that she’s “loved” every week like I am and that’s why she’s cranky. That’s such a shame…


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