George Gray and 3 members of his group from Life’s WORC: (l-r) Rajab Williams, Caitlin Wilkenshoff, and Tommy Gillece.
It is not unusual to observe various groups using the library. When you visit us, you will often see family members or tutors working one-on-one with students, or classmates studying together, or larger groups gathered around a table to complete a school project.
Over the past year, the reference librarians have noticed that Mr. Gray and a group of 5 or 6 individuals have been coming to use our library on a fairly regular basis. We have been impressed with how independent and focused the members appear to be as they use the computers, or read, or work, sometimes individually or together. Our staff are always prepared to assist the individuals whenever help is needed locating items or if there is a problem on the computers, but with Mr. Gray in the wings to get them started and follow up with issues, we are rarely called upon. Unlike some of the other groups that use our library, his group members seem to have goals to fulfill, and diligently go about their business.
What a librarian’s dream! We couldn’t help wondering “Who is this Pied Piper-like figure? And how does he work his magic?”
On Friday, Dec.20, 2013 I arranged an interview with George Gray to learn about him and his group. I discovered that he works in the Day Habilitation program of Life’s WORC, a not-for-profit organization that provides comprehensive support for individuals with developmental disabilities. In his role as a Direct Support Professional, he owns the responsibility of helping the members of his group prepare for work and to further their employability goals based on individualized plans.
When they are in the library, Mr. Gray supervises his group as they work on their reading, writing, and money skills, or use the computer to practice keyboarding or research. In addition to providing his one-on-one support, he also gives in-service group training on safety and health issues and instruction on job roles, work routines, and the importance of time and following schedules. He takes them to volunteer work sites to practice their skills, to the gym to support a healthy lifestyle, and on trips to emphasize socialization and contributing to the greater community. He’s a chauffeur, a coach, and a friend.
Mr. Gray enjoys seeing his group members being productive and happy. And his group members adore him. I had the chance to speak with Tommy Gillece, who is full of energy, and charmed me with his enthusiasm about working two days a week as a school volunteer and his employment at a couple of part-time jobs where he is proud to earn wages. Caitlin Wilkenshoff, shyly told me about her retail job and how she uses her time in the library to improve her keyboarding skills. Rajab Williams was just pleased to be a part of the group.
When I asked the group if they had any suggestions about how we could improve our services, they were very kind and complimentary. We are pleased that these patrons find our library a welcoming environment and hope that they continue to thrive and find our services useful.