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Atypical

Just down the street and around the corner, off Holden Avenue, the Russell Home for Atypical Children has been caring for special needs children for more than 50 years without any governmental support. The story of this place is rich and I invite you to click on the link to learn more about the wonderful work they accomplish. When you do, you'll discover that the children they take in grow old there. You'll also discover that they can use all manner of financial support if you are so inclined.

So what does that have to do with Mrs. Camera Crazy you wonder? Well, I've mentioned before that I'm tiring of volunteering at the museum. I've felt for quite some time that what talent I have is not being utilized there. An easy fit would have been something at one of the area hospitals, however, I was hoping for something along those lines, but not having to be involved with all the red tape required. Anymore, they do drug testing, background checks, classes--you get my drift.

Once Corrine was released from the hospital the first time, they sent her to a rehab/nursing home on Annie Street called Delaney Park Health and Rehabilitation Center. Forgive me if I've mentioned this before but when we were young teenagers, our grandmother was in the very same place--something like 45 years ago. While visiting her, it occurred to me that maybe they used volunteers so I went about finding out the requirements. They aren't much. An application with a reference was pretty much it. Regina wrote that for me, saying I had common sense.

Annie Lee, the activities director I'll be working with, asked me via email if I would be available to come on Tuesday, when what she called, "the Russell Home girls", were coming to sing and dance for the residents. After three hours of sitting at the museum with no visitors last week, I jumped at the opportunity. Naturally, I let Trudy at the museum know I wouldn't be coming, and she was very understanding.

Arriving with my camera about 15 minutes before the girls, I watched as Annie assembled the wheelchair- bound residents around the dining room. I introduced myself to a number of them, some of whom were remarkably lucid, some not so much. And then there was Babe, or at least that's what she likes to be called. Although Annie warned me she could be very mean, when she looked like she needed some help I went over to her, getting an earful for my efforts! Not only did she tell me I was going to hell, she said the girls were as well. Hmmmm....
The moment arrived when the "girls" walked confidently into the dining room with Beverly, their driver and helper. She introduced each one, as well as letting us know they were all engaged! To whom you ask? The likes of Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Billy Ray Cyrus, and one of the Jonas boys! Proudly they showed off their rings! A few of the residents visited with them beforehand.
And then the music began, with each one doing a solo, followed by a group song and dance. 
This one is my favorite of the bunch I think. Shooting into the bright window was a big challenge for me because I'm not skilled enough to know how to overcome the light. I did what I could. At any rate, all was going well until such time as a screeching fire alarm check went off for what seemed like forever! Although the singer was not fazed, you can see that the noise really hurt their ears, bringing two of them to tears. The girls, aged 22-43, sang along to one of their favorite country songs. Somehow, although one of them is nearly deaf they managed to make sounds and were so proud of themselves, you couldn't help but get into the spirit. This resident was tapping along to the beat:
They did their group song:
Followed by a synchronized dance routine:
It was really remarkable. I used my video function on the camera for the first time on purpose. That's one thing about the Olympus that is really frustrating--I'm always hitting it by mistake! I had no real idea how to do it, but I did get a few good seconds which shows off their skills--trouble is, I've no idea now what to do with it! After they concluded their act, I asked them if they'd like to have a portrait shot done with enthusiastic yeses all around. You should have seen them posing. Now this is what volunteering should be about!

Every other Tuesday afternoon there is a woman who brings her dog to visit with the residents, however, the dog was sick yesterday. I couldn't help myself--I told Annie that Baxter and I would return at 2:30 for the visitation. Baxter is a shaggy mess right now, which I can't do anything about, but after eating lunch, I did bathe him. As if they cared....

Walking in the front door with Baxie on his leash, there were immediate comments on what a cutie he is. Well, that doesn't surprise you does it? Of course not--he is the cutest dog in the world! He was nervous however, with his little tail tucked along with the shivers. I held him and sat with the residents outside the dining room before heading down the hallway into the rooms of the bedridden. He brought joy to many faces my friends. Trouble was that somehow, before we went room hopping, he began limping, keeping all his weight off his back left leg. What happened I can't tell you. Never once, in the five plus years we've had him, has he limped. So, I carried him. He let the blind man rub his whole head, smiled, or at least his version of a smile for others, and in general made folks happy to see his sweet little face. 

Returning home, I examined Baxter at length; he showed no signs of pain, nor did I find anything to explain the limping. This morning I discovered that Yorkies oftentimes have a slipping knee joint which may explain the problem. He's resting comfortably now with only occasional limping. I'm going to give it another day to see if he improves without medical intervention.

Despite the tongue lashing I received from "Babe", I'll go back. It was indeed an atypical day for me.


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