Monthly Archives: December 2011

Good Books, Good Friends, Good Times

Submitted by Kath Pengelly, volunteer and advocate coordinator at Lifeworks

Julie Smith started reading to a group of Brooklyn Park listeners October 7, 2008 and hasn’t stopped since. The first book was, Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, and currently they are reading, Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Twenty one books in all during the three year period and we hope Julie will never stop her volunteering at Lifeworks because the Brooklyn Park Book Club loves to hear her read. 

Recently, I asked Julie about her experience with us and what makes her keep coming back week after week to read. She explained that as a former fourth grade teacher she feels that this opportunity provides in a small way the same pleasure she received from her teaching career. Reading aloud, helping others to enjoy literature, and opening the world of imagination through books.  

Lifeworks, disability employment

Heather Schullo, Julie Smith and Jenny Horner

Julie said that in the spring of 2009 she told the group that she would like to take the summer off to be with her family and the disappointment on the faces of our clients made her quickly change her mind. It was then that she realized the significance of her gift to us. She never misses her appointed time. She carefully journals what happens and where she left off each week so she can seamlessly pick up when she arrives promptly at 9:30 a.m. every Tuesday. Her listeners wait for her, anticipating where today’s book might take them. They often find a movie version of the story to follow up after the book is completed to compare and contrast the storyline. 

I asked Julie if there has been a favorite book in the three years of reading. She said that the group does have a 10 point rating scale, but they give every book a 10. Sometimes she disagrees with them and says,

“No, I would give this book a six or seven.” The answer is always the same, “Oh no, Julie, this is a ten, absolutely a ten.”

Is it the book then that brings the high scores, the voice, or the constant friendship? I suspect it is the friendship. I suspect that our Brooklyn Park Book Club values their time with Julie more than she can ever know. Her soft spoken voice reading classic treasures is an auditory treat that they look forward to with great anticipation.  

What will happen next? How will this story end? What will the next book be? The answers to these questions remain to be answered but one thing is certain, Julie Smith will be at Brooklyn Park next Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. to read. Henry David Thoreau said, “Books are the treasured wealth of the world.” So are good readers like Julie. Thank you for sharing your time with us.  

Would you like to be one of the many valuable volunteers at Lifeworks? Please call me, there is a group of people waiting for your time and talents.

Kath Pengelly, 651-365-3720 or


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Now Entering: Base Camp

Base Camp is the brain child of Northern Star Council and Boy Scouts of America connecting the community to interactive and inspiring activities. Base Camp features engaging challenges that focus on experiential learning. These activities reward participants with pride, accomplishment, and character. A few examples of the challenges include a climbing tower, high ropes course, archery range, and even a NASA space shuttle simulator.

Ann Huddleson and Sherry Campeau pumped up after the high ropes course at Base Camp

Part of Lifeworks participation in the Boy Scouts of America Venturing program, a program that is offered to both men and women with disabilities, opened their access to the new Base Camp center.  When Base camp was approached about Lifeworks eagerness to visit the center, the staff at Base Camp were both thrilled and accommodating.  They were excited to focus on the abilities and enthusiasm of those supported by Lifeworks. 

Twenty Lifeworks attendees were supported by six Base Camp specialists on three occasions to participate in the full gamut of Base Camp courses.  The experience was chalk full of learning opportunities.  Some of the courses, like the high ropes course, were intimidating and challenging. The event is built not as entertainment, but as a learning experience.  Lifeworks participants had to overcome their fears and offer encouragement to their teammates. Many participants tried activities and overcame obstacles they thought they would never attempt. It was truly a rewarding memory no one will forget.

Lifeworks participants mentally preparing for Base Camp action!

“I was scared, but in the end I did it!” – Ann Huddleson, Lifeworks client

“It was a real confidence booster.  It gave people the chance to get together and cheer each other on.  It was a big deal to a lot of people” – Sherry Campeau, Lifeworks staff

Soon, Lifeworks hopes to enter the walls of Base Camp again. Next time, who knows what wonderful adventures will await them?

Visit to see what fun adventures are happening at a Lifeworks close to you!

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