Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

{May 18, 2011}   Patience and Perserverance

Two of our vocational rehab volunteers have gotten jobs in the past 2 weeks. I’m really proud of them. One of them will have a job coach with him, but the other is completely independent.

The first time one of our vocational rehab volunteers got a job I wanted to cry. Not only did he get a job, he got an apartment, learned the bus system and found a girlfriend all around the same time. He was like a little caterpillar in his cocoon just waiting and waiting until the right moment to sprout his wings and flutter around. I was so happy for him.

We had a dry spell for a long time until I got a phone call from another of our voc-rehab volunteer’s mom. She was crying and I spent a few minutes trying to calm her down in order to¬† find out what was wrong. It seemed that her daughter who had been volunteering with us at first with a job coach and then more and more independently, took the bus to volunteer. She got on by herself, made it, did her task, got on the bus and returned home. All without incident. Her mom was crying because she was so happy.

It was then that I realized that small successes aren’t really that small. Putting on a clean shirt to volunteer, brushing your hair, brushing your teeth, getting out of bed, shaving, wearing zippered pants and not sweats….all these things are taken for granted but when you suffer from a disability, a mental illness, depression, abuse…learning these things or gaining this skills are major accomplishments.

The one volunteer who will work independently has suffered from abuse her whole life from her mother. She’s in her 50’s and still carries the verbal and physical scars that were set upon her. Low self-esteem, eating disorders, illness, depression. Here she is valued, appreciated and loved. I tell her that she is loved every time she comes in. When she told me she got a job, she said it would be embarrassing to tell her mother that she was working in fast food. I told her, it’s job, I’m proud of her! She still felt deflated. She said her mother had told her of all her siblings, she thought she’d be most successful, and because of that she has struggled her whole life and now was embarrassed to tell her mother of her new job.

I told her that she has a son that is teaching college courses in Germany. He’s a scholar, a good son, a good person, someone who loves and cares for his mother, and is taking advantage of all the opportunities that she sacrificed for him, and he appreciates that.

Her success is not in flipping burgers, but in the fact that she raised a good son, who will add to this world in ways we don’t even know yet. But, he’s where he is right now because of her excellent¬† parenting skills, her nurturing and her love. She is successful.

Sometimes we all need a realty check in how we measure success.


et cetera
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