Seaside librarian and volunteer deliver books to home-bound seniorsSEASIDE - "Words on Wheels" is an unusual way to get a tour of Seaside, especially of the back roads and assisted living facilities.
Every other Wednesday, Seaside librarian Connie Word and volunteer Joyce Hunt load bags of books into the back of Word's car, jump in and drive all over Seaside and into Gearhart, delivering reading material to seniors who cannot get to the Seaside Library.
"Anybody who is homebound can receive this service," Library Director Reita Fackerell said. The library is looking for another volunteer to help with the delivery of books, videos and books on tape, Fackerell said. The service has been available for 10 years.
It's a natural job for Word and Hunt, who are both avid bookworms. Both said they choose to distribute books because of their love for the written word.
"It's a drug, it really is, just another form of drug," said Word, who has heard all the jokes about a librarian with her last name. While shelving in the library, Word often has to drag herself away from interesting titles. "That's where I find my best books," she said. She later remarked that she has the best job in the world.
Hunt's "drug" of choice is mysteries, and anything else she can lay her hands on. Currently, she is down to a mere two or three books a week. "It's always been a wonderful escape for me," she said. "It started with realizing my mom didn't make me do chores when I was reading." Now Hunt puts off chores to read by her own decision.
"If I don't have a book to read, I'm not happy," said recipient Jacqueline Lynes. "It's my passion. I can't live without books."
How to sign upTo sign up for the "Words on Wheels" program or to volunteer, call (503) 738-6742Novels by John Grisham, art books, the history of Western and Northwest pioneers, science fiction and videos fill in the time between visits from Lynes' grandchildren. She liked Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code and Drums Along the Mohawk.
"I remember the first thing I could really read was a story in Saturday Evening Post, oh my God, a million years ago, and I thought that was something!" she recalled proudly. "My father and mother owned a small weekly newspaper in New York state and they both were avid readers, and my husband and I had several newspapers in different places, Massachusetts mostly." Most of those were published from a basement or a garage, Lyons said.
She has a tendency to get into a story and forget the world around her. "I just read when I should be doing other stuff," she said sheepishly. "I don't hear people."
For William McDevitt, books and his dog Brandi are his companions. He had a serious stroke and some smaller ones, and can no longer read very well, so he sticks to books on tape.
McDevitt is a former monk and was a nurse who taught three stroke victims to walk again. He likes mysteries, comedies and history, especially the history of other countries.
"I like fun stories, happy stories, you know, people that have got a sense of humor," he said. "I was delighted to have them come to the house and get me started on books." Librarian Rosemary Carter interviews clients and chooses material, Fackerell said.
Hunt and Word take the opportunity to make sure the seniors are doing well. This may include catching an update on an ailing wife or providing a sympathetic ear when a senior needs to vent. Two recipients had improved in health since the last visit, which made Word and Hunt happy. Accepting a candy bar, getting bayed at by dogs and admiring a new garden bench are important parts of the job as well.
"That's part of what's fun about this job, you get to see all these neat little places," Word said.
Jeanne Anderson, who favors histories, biographies and travel stories, could hardly wait to see what treasures she'd been given. "They're so nice about coming out and they have a nice selection," she said. A semi shut-in, Anderson likes a chance for conversation nearly as much as the books she gets.
"I enjoy the contact with folks I wouldn't normally come in contact with," Hunt said. She said she takes pleasure in promoting reading and gets good ideas for what to read. "I was looking for new authors, and you're always a good source," she told Don Hansen. He, like all the recipients, complimented the service. However, he said he had read many of the books he was given and sent them back.
Hunt said the experience has helped her realize assisted living care isn't so bad. "You don't see the people sitting in their wheelchairs up against a wall somewhere," she said. She and Word agreed the assisted-living facilities they go to are clean, the staff are nice and the residents are active.
But don't tell that to Mary Palmerton, who sees books as the only way to escape from her facility. "It keeps me going," she said. "I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't read."