Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

{May 23, 2011}   friends of all kinds…

One of our volunteers, Eleanor,  took several months off to take care of her constant companion and friend, Max. Max had trouble getting around, had several surgeries, and needed constant care. I checked in with her periodically to make sure she wasn’t wearing herself out as a caregiver and she said she’d do what needed to be done to make sure Max was being cared for, not in so much pain and to ensure that Max knew that he was loved.

Right before Christmas, I got the call from her that Max had passed away. She was heartbroken. I sent her a card and told her that no one could have had a more special friend to care for him while he was ill then her. They were good friends.

Around February, Eleanor decided that she needed her mind on something else, and that she needed to be busy again so Eleanor came back 1 day a week. We sat in my office and chatted and laughed about Max. How even though he was arthritic, he would still be able to crawl up into her lap. How he’d put his cold nose on her cheek when she fell asleep in her chair…how he slopped water everywhere when he drank…

…what?…oh, I’m sorry, I thought I mentioned it earlier…Max was her black lab. Her big baby, her constant friend and companion.

I had another volunteer who’s son moved out and when he moved was unable to take his black lab puppy. Already in some financial hardship, this volunteer noticed a bin I had set out for dog food for the WALOP (We All Love Our Pets) for Meals on Wheels and the Pet Food Bank that our local Humane Society sponsors. He explained that he and his wife just fell in love with “that little rascal” and he’s brought such joy to their house, but he’s eating more than they are now.

Eleanor saw the bin outside my office and asked about it. I explained what it was for and faithfully, every week she’s brought in dog food. When I told her about the lab puppy, she’s earmarked all of her donations “for the man with the little max”.

She’s not ready yet for another dog, it will take time, but for now, she’s taking care and loving another dog, even if its not sitting in her lap.


{January 18, 2011}   English Tea Party

I went to an English Tea Party the other night which was just fabulous! The volunteers of our Friends of the Library Shoppe were all invited to fellow FOL volunteer Sheila’s house to gather, chat, laugh and of course…drink tea.

What made the evening so much more wonderful was that Sheila is actually English. Before she came to the “states” (and found her husband while on holiday and stayed!), she was working around the corner from a little pub in Liverpool. At lunch time, a group of them would all go over to the pub and have something to eat and listen to a group of shaggy haired, young men in casual dress playing, and singing and laughing and chatting. After a while, she didn’t see them any more and just figured they moved on as bands do. She was quite shocked when she was watching Ed Sullivan one night and saw  them on the tele in matching suits!

Sheila scooted around the party in her  jazzy little apron, with tea cups and tea kettles and trays. I had some sort of warm grog which was sweetly perfect for a cold January evening. There was chatting in the kitchen, chatting in the dining area around the cucumber sandwiches and finger foods and chatting in the living room, next to a warm fire place. We talked book shop, we talked families, we talked tea. We also talked china and place settings. I love china. Delicate, patterned, shiny,  matching china…and Sheila had some beautiful pieces.

It was fun. That’s what its all about when you volunteer. Finding a connection in something that you enjoy and making and building relationships out of it. Friendships were formed and strengthened that night at a cozy English condo in the Midwest.

Now that we all know each other a little better, we may have to break out the Long Island Ice Teas…and try this party again…American Style!


{December 8, 2010}   Super-Heros and Side-Kicks

Some things just always go together. Bread and Butter, Chips and Dip, Beer and Pretzels, Coffee and Donuts…

Here at the library it’s  Marc and Jot. Jot has volunteered with Marc in the computer lab for just about the past two years. As Marc mans the phones and class sign ups, Jot is answering questions in the lab, assisting patrons on their resume, helping with prints and saving documents and doing some find and seek. Jot’s help frees up Marc’s time to focus on tasks at the desk.

With recent schedule changes, Marc was transferred to the front Circulation Desk. When Marc was transferred, so was Jot. I was surprised at first to see Jot volunteering in a different department. He initially told me he wanted to volunteer in the lab, help patrons with computer questions and learn new skills. When I saw him assisting at the front desk under Marc’s guidance I asked him if he was going to go upstairs to the lab. He said, “Wherever Marc is, I’m going to help him.” Now, that’s volunteer loyalty! Then again, wherever Marc is even I want to be there! Marc is fun, funny and has great stories to share.

It occurred to me then that volunteers not only must like their tasks for retention…they should like the staff they are working with. He liked the lab, but he liked working with Marc more. Now, he can learn new tasks, continue to enjoy the company of our staff, and help us all at the same time.

What a Happy Day!


et cetera
%d bloggers like this: