Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Difficult Decision

Since my training session a few weeks ago, I have been waiting to find out where I will be assigned to read to children in homeless shelters as part of The Reading Connection. I had listed my priorities, putting question marks beside the DC box and knowing that’s where they really need volunteers.

During the training, the coordinator could tell us only the general location of the various sites, not wanting to disclose the exact location of shelters, but the DC locations were all in Anacostia, an area where safety might be an issue.

Since then I have tried to drum up interest among people I know, thinking about safety in numbers. But no one has been dying (probably a poor choice of words!) to work with me in Anacostia so far.

When I got the e-mail today asking how I was feeling about DC and wondering if I had found anyone else to join me, I had to stop and think about my reply. The e-mail went on to describe the location, giving me the exact address and saying there would probably be 5-6 children in each reading session. I would be reading just one evening each month.

Part of me wants to say these children are just as deserving as children in Alexandria or Arlington, even though they might be located in a less desirable area. I could almost see their faces looking up at me as I was about to begin a story.

I wrote back to ask if I could talk to someone else who has worked at this site. I have practical questions – like how available is on-street parking? How well lit is the street? Could someone walk me out to my car after we finish? Who would I be working with (since there must be 2 volunteers)?

I will probably sign up for the Anacostia site and it will probably be fine.

What would you do?


Blogger Jamy said...

I'd do it with you--but is it during working hours? That's my only constraint.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Safety is always a concern. We have to balance genuine benefit against imagined benefit.

I don't know what their situation is like and I don't know how much it means to them. Disappointment and the sense of being excluded is hard on kids.

On the other hand, maybe these kids are being dropped off because the parents figure they get some free babysitting out of it.

I am usually not concerned about my personal safety, I am usually more concerned about the security of my car.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Jamy -- I would love it if you would do this with me. It's 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. on one Thursday night a month. You have to go to a training session first. Send me an e-mail if you are really interested after you check out The Reading Connection.

Richard -- This isn't a "drop-off". This is a homeless shelter for families who have no other place to live.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'd go with you, too.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

It goes without saying but I am saying it anyway..if I were there, I would go with you. I hope someone wants to do this is amazingly worthwhile.


2:22 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

If it's safe, go. If it isn't, can you ask for it to be made so, either by assigning two of you to be there together or by assigning someone to walk you to and from your car?

6:45 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- It would be great if you and Jamy could both do this with me. Go to their website and sign up to be a volunteer if you are interested. You will both have to attend a training session.

Kate -- Sorry you are not here!

Pauline -- I think we can make this work. It's not actually in one of the worst areas of DC and I will take the necessary precautions. Most of staying safe is just using your head.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Oops! I am so embarrassed. I missed that as I read the post. Mea culpa!

It is definitely a go in that case.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Sounds like you have the safety thing covered. Have'll love it! I'd do it in a minute! I have so many props, puppets, story-telling aprons in my attic!
I actually dress up like characters like when I read Baba Yaga...any strange shady people on the street might be scared off by ME!

11:31 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Richard -- Most people don't think of homeless children, but they definitely exist.

MOI -- I can tell you will be a helpful resource when I get my assignment and am planning the "lesson"! Tell me more about a reading apron.

12:48 PM  

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