Listen, we went back and forth on it too. Being the Volunteer of the Month is supposed to be an honor. It’s supposed to mean something. And what could such a distinction mean … to a DOG? A trained service dog, sure, but still, a dog. And then, when we thought about it, we realized:
- It’s more than just Colby, it’s her whole FAMILY, and
- Colby has done a LOT of stuff for us in the just-about-four years she’s been with us.
And she exhibits all the characteristics of a truly spectacular volunteer. We’ll even bullet-point it for you.
- She is incredibly reliable. She is always where she is supposed to be, and on time, and if she’s late, it’s never her fault.
- She is wonderful with students. More on that in a minute.
- She is versatile. She’s done everything from her own off-site program to helping to teach workshops to going in to schools to dressing up as a robodog for our Robot Dance-off.
- She always has a positive attitude. She is always happy to see us, and we are always happy to see her.
- She’s gentle. And attentive. And when she wants something to get done (i.e. being petted), she is persistent.
Undeniably the capacity in which she’s served us the most is in her weekly trips to Hikone Community Center. Surely you’ve heard about this, and seen the awww-inspiring pictures. But I thought it might be good to take you, step-by-step, through his process.
First, I arrive at Colby’s house to pick her up (I act as both chauffeur and handler). She attacks me with cuteness. Here’s an important thing to mention about Colby: she makes you feel like a million bucks. Every time. She makes you — and by “you” I mean you, me, the students, other volunteers, passers-by — feel like you are her favorite person in the whole world. When I pick her up and put her work vest on, she knows she is going to Hikone, and she is thrilled.
When we arrive at Hikone, we are mobbed. EVERYONE at Hikone knows Colby, and she is systematically attacked from all sides by children screaming her name and hugging her. You know that old footage of Beatlemania? It’s a little like that. (In fact, despite the fact that I have accompanied her to Hikone for several years, and have introduced myself, by name, to these children a hundred or more times, many of them seem to know me best as “the lady who brings Colby.” I’m … Ringo, I guess.)
For the next hour, the students take turns reading to her. In fact, the students fight to get to read to her. Have you ever seen children arguing over who gets to read first? It’s AWESOME. She’s a celebrity there, and, in addition to all the students there practicing their reading every week, it also instills in their minds that reading rocks.
Colby (with “help” from her wonderfully marvelous owner, Mary, who also deserves much commendation for all she’s done for us for the last four years, from teaching to running for us in the Big House Big Heart 5K) also teaches writing workshops to our youngest students every semester on everything from poetry to small books. She inspires students to write. Several Colby-themed poems showed up in our first 826michigan OMNIBUS. And more recently, she was the subject of this book:
There are more reasons than even these that she is our official mascot, and now our Volunteer of the Month. But for now we’ll just say, Colby, you deserve a dumpster-full of dog treats. And if we had that many treats, we would indeed serve them to you in a dumpster because we know how much you LOVE eating things from trash cans (true).
Thanks also to Mary and Blaine Roderique, who are charming and helpful and come to our events and help out with whatever needs helping out with AND are even slated to play/cheer on our upcoming kickball team.