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Giving Time

January 23, 2008

I was early, of course.  I’m usually always early to appointments.

I prefer not to drive at night – it seems so, well…   dark.     And street lights do little to light up more than the inch of perimeter of their physical being so the darkness still seems so very, very dark.   I hate wondering if my headlights are on.   Of course, they are, but until I am stopped at a stoplight with a car in front of me, I have no ability to verify. 

Plus, it was raining.    I really did not want to be out.

I wasn’t sure where the meeting place was;  I had the address and had a good idea where the building was, but, like I mentioned already:   it was dark.    I pull into the drive, and see car after car already parked.   OH THANK GOD, one lonely parking spot available at the very end!    I’m even under a streetlight!    Bless the universe, happy-happy.

I grab my notepad and check that the keys are in my hand before I hit the lock button and exit the vehicle.    I make my way to the entrance, ducking raindrops, splashing through puddles.    I’m 16 minutes early.

The conference room has 4 people in it.   I’m greeted by a very smiley happy young looking girl with long thick grey hair somewhat contained by a scrunchy.   A table is before her with scads of name tags all filled out.     [Wow.   a LOT of people are expected here tonight.]    I see my name;  the bubbly greeter says

Oh terrific!  You’re Curious C!  Welcome!   You and another are the only ones who signed up for this online… through VolunteerMatch.org?”

She begins to ask questions about how I found this website and the others inquire as to what exactly it is, but it gets jumbled fast and we are in the entry way to the room.    We move and further attempts at back and forth discourse dissipate away as more people enter the room.

Seventeen new volunteers show up for orientation to the Adult Literacy Program / Reading Partners Initiative funded entirely from state grants and administered through the local library.    In addition to “the Bubbly One” who runs the program is the library director (this one has amazing big fluffy long white hair – it was entrancingly distracting!  This is blowing the stereotype for how a librarian is supposed to look!) and 5 tutors who have been working in the program.

     ABE = Adult Basic Eduction for Reading, Writing and Life Skills – the smallest group of students

     ESOL = English for Speakers of Other Languages (more p.c. replacement term for ESL  which stood for English as a Second Language…  we must not assume that people who don’t know and want to learn English that they only know one language already!)

     GED Prep = a diverse group and the biggest group of students;  language arts &/or math.

     Computer Skills = NOT advertised but the biggest request

     Financial Literacy – Local banks are referring students since they find more and more people who have no concept of ‘cash’, balancing a checkbook, saving, etc.

We enjoyed listening to the testimonials and finding out that we have a choice in what we may want to assist with:   math only, computer skills, any or all, etc.    I find myself reflecting that I am most qualified for this!   I had forgotten the experience I could cough up if asked on whether or not I’ve ever done anything like this before.    All relevant situations from the past 20 years come to mind and then it hits me.   Gosh, it’s been a long time!   Am I really that old?   Do I dare say that I could teach basic computer literacy when I’m probably 10 years from that episode in my life?

Yes, “C”, you can.    These people want to know WHAT email is…    How to send a letter via email to 6 different people without typing it six times!    How to ‘find’ the internet…     I won’t be asked how to build a website or optimize thingummawidgets.    

In college, I had a part-time job teaching study skills to freshman who were admitted even though they didn’t have the minium SAT/ACT score.   [State schools had to accept everyone.]    It was very fun!   And so evident that a few kids were only there to be away from home and yet still on Daddy’s dime.     My favorite part of every computer job I ever had was the training on my applications.    When PC’s were rolled out to replace the mainframe system monitors, I was on the team to train how to use.   One non-computer job I had was coordinating curriculum for vocational education and working with current teachers to stay abreast of technology.   I could have really loved that job except that the other guy I had to work with was one scary asshole SOB dickhead and I really didn’t like him much.   So I left to go sell IBM AS/400s…   [Hey, “C”, stop reminiscing these good times.  ha!   stay on task here…] 

So, I’m excited.    The current volunteers were so enthusiastic about their experiences, the highs AND getting through the lows.  That the administrators were top notch and fabulous.    Though resources, ie powerpoint and computers were ‘coming’ – [Truly!  Only ONE computer to do training on!!], the energy and the HEART in the room was in full force.   I’m excited.   

We have 5 weeks of training!  egads.   But that is OK; for me to adjust my comfort level.   We will have more volunteers than students, too, so I may not be needed immediately.     Currently, 50 students are actively receiving training of one kind or another.   Other programs in the state have the opposite program which fascinates me, too.    Lots of questions why this spot either attracts more students -or- the others fail to attract volunteers;  I don’t know the numbers either way to compare.  

I’m excited.   Cautiously optimistic, yet eager to get started.    This will be good for me to meet real 3D humans and engage in awkward conversations.   This will be worth getting out, in the dark, driving at night.   I think it will be so very worth it…

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3 comments

  1. It sounds worth it! It’s so nice that you’re stretching, and getting to meet “real 3D humans (ha!).” How often are you going to do this, after the training?


  2. Oooh, how exciting! I hope you have a wonderful time. The only question I have is – just ONE computer for all those people to learn on? That’s just …. I can’t see how it could be managed! I do hope to be hearing more about this as the situation progresses, okay?

    Have a beautiful day my friend.


  3. @MBMQ, I’m not sure how often; the request was anyone willing to commit to one hour per week. I could be up for more, of course.

    @RubyShooz, Thank you. I know, one computer?! but, for one on one training, I guess it’s only a scheduling ‘wait your turn’ kind of ‘issue’.

    I’ll keep posting more about my Volunteering as it goes. I find it interesting that there aren’t more blogs/posts, even books! on the topic of volunteering… It was cool to see so many of us at the orientation and it was all ages/backgrounds, etc. I thought it would only be retired women – funny thing about expectations!

    Thank you!



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