Today’s Notes from Volunteering at the Ballard Landmark Senior Center

Today was an eventful day. Glenna and Erica were both actively “working” on the library when I showed up at 2. Glenna was trying to put books back on the shelves. She claims she reshelves about 5-6 books a day that are left in the returns basket, which struck me as somewhat existential considering what people in an environment value and what they live for. It was romantic, in a way. Erica (I believe that’s her name) was weeding out old magazines. Something to keep in mind–people are constantly donating magazines (and sometimes books) to the library, so checking the magazines every week is a good idea.

After I spent about an hour talking with various people and making sure the organization was as good as it could be, I helped another, remarkable woman named Anne go through used magazines looking for pictures she could use to teach her friend, who recently had a stroke and lost a lot of brain functionality, the ability to match pictures and words. The friend only speaks in the words one, two, three, four, and five. Anne then asked me to help her on the computer, which I did; I showed her how to use Youtube to look for songs (she plays the violin), explained to her the nature of Pandora, and helped with a research question she had regarding red yest rice. She then told me about a poetry contest from earlier int he week, and proceeded to bring me a copy of her poem, which got third place (though I think it beat the first place winner, in my opinion), and tried to give me ten dollars as a donation to the library–I told her we wanted books but she told me the library has enough books. Glenna also told me she has a lot of books in storage she’d love to bring up, but there’s no room for them. How can we address this? Glenna also requested a library stamp for stamping the books, and I told her we’d look into that. Erica said she was looking for a book by Anita Shrieve that the library had but wasn’t there. After searching the stacks, I told her someone else was probably reading it.

Finally, I met this character Jordan, an 88 year old who is probably the most active 88 year old I’ve ever met, who goes to the gym, has written three full books, and wants me to video tape him telling jokes to strangers and get him on talk shows, splitting the money we make 50/50… yeah, um… yeah. Anyway, I taught him how to set a default font in Word, and watched, speechless, as he did exercises on the floor next to the computer, him attempting to prove to me his knees were in excellent shape. There are more subtle details, but hey! that’s another day at the Ballard Landmark for ya!

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