One of the ways I am regularly encouraging people, in helping to change our view of and heart for our city, is through participating in institutions already at work in the community. Last year I was talking with my friend Tim about this and he took it, and ran, literally, to the library.
I asked him to share his story as a way to encourage others in considering these simple steps to help us see and support a better future for our neighbors and neighborhood
Hi, I’m Tim and I volunteer at the Brooklyn Public Library. Originally, I wanted to help teach a class on technology or help solve some problems in the computer lab. So I filled out the online application and showed up for an interview. Maria, the volunteer coordinator, asked me what I wanted to do and I told her that I was pretty good with tech and that I could probably serve best in something related to computers.
“What about sitting at the welcome desk?” Maria asked.
“Well, I’m happy to help out wherever I’m needed.” I said.
"You’re needed at the welcome desk.” Maria stated.
“Umm, ok then."
For the past six months I’ve been showing up to the central branch of Brooklyn Public Library to welcome patrons for two hours every Saturday. I started out behind a desk, but for the past two months I’ve been mainly at the front door with an iPad greeting patrons and tracking my interactions.
A few highlights from the past six months:
- I’ve learned how valuable the library is to my community.
- The library is a great equalizer: all kinds of people are patrons and participate in programs, attend events and browse the collection.
- Restrooms are called a lot of things.
- Welcoming people for two hours means you’re going to just keep saying hi to people for the rest of the day and they will say hi back.
- One of the vendors at the farmers market said “Hey, it’s the library guy,” as I passed by his booth.
And finally, a story:
A couple of weeks ago, I was approaching the end of my shift and a woman who I see every Saturday walked into the lobby. I greeted her with a “Hi, how are you?” and she actually acknowledge me.
“I was paid yesterday and today I’m out of money.” So I asked her for her name.
“Mary,” she said
“Well Mary, I’m Tim and I’ll pray for you, ok?"
She immediately brightened up and said “Oh, thank you so much!” and then went to sit in the cafe area. I didn’t see her for a week or so, but this past weekend I saw Mary sitting in the cafe area.
“Hi Mary,” I said, “I’ve been praying for you!"
“Well pray for my health too. I doesn’t mean anything to have money and not have your health,” She said.
"Ok I’ll pray for your money and health situation,” I said.
Mary quickly replied, “We’ll pray for each other. What’s your name again?"
"Tim,” I said.
"Ok Tim, I’ll pray for you too.”
Volunteering at the library has been a great experience, and now I have a prayer partner named Mary!