Dear readers, by now some of you must be grumbling, “OK, so she volunteers a lot, is good at math and reads a lot of books. That is just a bit too much goody-two-shoes “.
So, I’ll tell you what I can’t do. I am a total klutz at all sports and cannot dance. In spite of repeated efforts, I have never been able to learn a foreign language. I have no appreciation for music (tone deaf) and only know when it is too loud (often). My memory for faces is totally pathetic (Oh! That reminds me of an embarrassing event. You’ll have to wait for that one). My needlework skills are rudimentary. And, I don’t play cards. Feeling better now?
Now that your mood has improved, I’ll tell you two not-so-wonderful volunteer stories.
A request came into the office of the association for the blind, asking someone to help a couple with their mail and bill paying chores.
The location was just down the street from my home and was for just a couple hours every other week. I said OK. For close to a year, I regularly visited this blind couple, read their mail, paid their bills, and balanced their checkbook. One day the wife called and asked me to forge a drug prescription for them. “I know you can do it because you have a computer”, she said. When I refused, she became quite angry. I reported this situation to the social worker at the office and never returned.
The second situation was far more distressing. Once a week for nine years, I visited the office of a visually impaired social worker. She was dedicated to her work and very cheerful. Together, we read her mail, prepared a variety of documents for her clients, and sent out numerous greeting cards and invitations. It was not all work. We chatted, laughed, and became friends. Then I became very ill. My husband called her to explain that I was in the hospital. Weeks went by. I was in no condition to help others. Months went by. It was a year before I had improved. During all of that time, the social worker never called to inquire about my health. Never sent a card. Nothing.
Disabled people are just like everyone else. They come in all stripes. Remember, those were only two sad stories out of dozens of happy ones.
When volunteering, take care of yourself first.