Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Desperately Seeking Volunteers

We are up to five scrapbookers, and at least two more waiting in the wings for a total of three volunteers. This disproportionate number caused some bickering between two of the three gentlemen I was helping last week.

So, yet another lesson was hammered home to me. Individuals recieving human service supports don't always have all of the same choices as others in our society. Sometimes vulnerable individuals need to live with other individuals that they don't like.

So what's next ...

I am desperately seeking volunteers. (Everytime I think that in my mind, an old movie title pops into my head. I'm sure that says something silly about me! Don't even try to analyze it.) Anyway, I have a few people who initially wanted to help but weren't available at the time. Hopefully, with Christmas behind us, they might be ready to get started. I am keeping my fingers crossed ... and begging!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Last Wednesday, my small group of volunteers and I spent two hours scrapbooking with four individuals receiving human service supports. It was an incredible experience to watch apprehension turn to smiles of joy, in both the individuals and the volunteers.

I cannot begin to explain the happiness I felt at the end of the evening. I’m a wife, mother, friend, employee and a myriad of other roles. Now, I’m a volunteer.

I gave two hours of my time. I smiled, and treated people with what I consider normal human kindness. Seems like a simple thing, but I helped four individuals, that I have never met before, to have fun. I watched their faces light up over the opportunity for a new experience. I witnessed joy.

I can’t wait to go tomorrow night!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Wednesday is the big day!

Social Role Valorization (SRV) education challenged me to do one thing, to make a difference in the life of one person. So, after hearing David Pitonyak, a project was born. I committed to organize volunteers to assist indivduals receving human service supports to tell their own story.

After three months of planning, we are FINALLY ready to get started! (Patience is not one of my strenghts.) The first group of volunteers, for my scrapbooking project, completed their required training last week.

Wednesday is the big day! The volunteers and the individuals they will be assisting to create scrapbooks will meet each other. In this first meeting, the individuals will get to choose a scrapbook, receive a picture of his/her volunteer, talk a little and pick out some colors for the scrapbook.

The primary goal of the project is to create a scrapbook to assist an individual to tell his/her own story. Additionally, we will provide some education on scrapbooking as a hobby, and so maybe some of the individuals will develop the role of “scrapbooker”. Developing this role could create social opportunities for unpaid relationships or even employment opportunities for individuals receiving human service supports.

We will create two distinctly different types of scrapbooks depending on whether or not an individual has pictures and memorabilia from his/her past. For an individual who has pictures from his/her past, we will create a traditional scrapbook. The second type of scrapbook will be for an individual who doesn’t have pictures from his/her past, and will be a little more challenging. Both types of scrapbooks will have a lot of journaling about the individual on every page.

Our challenge for the second type of scrapbook will be to create the “feeling” of the story the individual wants to tell. We will take or gather current pictures and then write the story. There is no scrapbooking “rule” that says a picture has to match the journaling, and not all pictures in the scrapbook have to be of people. Some of the pictures could be pictures of favorite things, places, foods or activities that an individual already does or would like to learn to do.

So what's the status of my challenge? So far, I have convinced/coerced one of my closest friends and two family members to help three of the most vulnerable members of our society to tell their own story. What can you do to impact the life of one individual that is not part of your life today? Are you willing to accept the challenge?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

What is "Life On A Page" about?

Life On A Page is about scrapbooking the stories of our lives. I have initiated a project to empower individuals receiving human service supports to tell their own stories through scrapbooking. I have organized a group of volunteers to assist with the project.

Recently, I was inspired by David Pitonyak, http://www.dimagine.com/, when he spoke to the employees of Keystone Human Services. One of the things that David talked about was that individuals with disabilities lose their stories. Individuals can be isolated from their families and lose long term, unpaid relationships. There is no one to "hold their stories". Many individuals have spent long, damaging years in institutional settings, with little community contact. Relationships can become centered around an individual's diagnosis, rather than the fabric of their life.

As I look at my life, I have close family and friends who “hold my stories”. At gatherings, we share our histories, triumphs, mistakes, the silly, giggling moments, the laughter and the tears. We laugh, and we cry, and we live, and the stories become part of our shared history. I know that I am important in the lives of the people who are important to me, because of those precious stories that are told and retold.

It's my turn to help someone else tell their own precious story. I hope you will follow along.