Real Communities: A Story of Success from the Korean Coalition
Update: Narae has got her second volunteer position at Assi Plaza, an Asian grocery store in Duluth as a stacker where she will work from 10 - 11 a.m.. The Duluth library also reached out to both Lucy and me and have a volunteer position for her at the library.
Lucy is a mother with a new purpose. She is looking for volunteer opportunities for her daughter, Narae.
For the past few months, actually since November 2013, Narae's circle of support has been meeting every month to widen her circle of friends and provide opportunities for her and lucy ( her mother) to explore lives independent of each other. Narae is 34 year old and her mother has been her only companion. Lucy did not have the confidence till recently to leave her daughter - even for an hour- in other person' s care.
Few weeks ago, Lucy, Narae, her attendant Sandy and I met at the Duluth library to talk about a volunteer opportunity for Narae at the library. Why a library? Simply because Narae always has a magazine in her hands and likes to flip through it. Folks at the library, were skeptical. They did not refuse but neither were they welcoming. I could sense the feeling of defeat creeping in on Lucy & "I told you so" look. We walked out of the library and decided to try our luck at the old age home next door. Wow! What a welcome! The activity director of the facility shared the activity calendar and various ways Narae could help them. She did not ask her to take a written test or questioned her ability to hold things in her hand or doubt maneuverability of her wheelchair. She believed that Narae was a god-sent, much needed help, for her.
Narae has been volunteering at this facility every Monday from 3 to 4 pm, for the past two weeks. Her job is to hand over the gifts to the residents after the bingo game. She is happy and excited to go every week - without mom. And, Lucy is using her time to find other volunteer opportunities for her daughter. She is now confident in knowledge that there are people, other than her, who can love Narae and need her. Her smile is broader and he eyes sparkle with excitement and possibilities.
I promise you, very soon, I will have more good news about Narae to share.
By Aarti Sahgal
GCDD Real Communities Diversity Consultant