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 kpengelly@lifeworks.org

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