Monday, January 30, 2012

Excited Yet Fearful

Growing up in Owensboro, I vaguely remember Wendell Foster’s Campus.  Upon return after a 26 year absence, Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) appeared as a blip on my radar.   While job hunting, I noticed a position opening for a Community Education Assistant at WFC.  Given my background in non-profit program management, public education and marketing, the job seemed to be a good fit so I applied, but since my resume may prove me over-qualified for the position, I did not expect to hear back from WFC.  I sent it anyway.

I knew nothing about WFC until I conducted research upon a surprising invitation for an interview.  Only then, I learned this organization served individuals with developmental disabilities as a residential campus and outpatient facility to those with autism, cerebral palsy and other brain-related injuries/illnesses.   Cool, I thought, I’ve enjoyed working with individuals with disabilities through volunteer work.  What little did I know how little I knew about WFC at this point!

Only until I stepped onto the grounds for my interview did I understand the magnificent presence this campus has.  One conversation with my future supervisor, Maggie Price, and a brief tour of the Sensory Park ignited my inner desire to become a part of this organization.  I was excited at the possibility to serve as a voice in support of a segment of our community enduring discrimination still today in Owensboro.  The history of the organization further impressed:  a Christian grass root effort of perseverance and faith through challenging times as a couple led the charge to support their own “spastic” child (the crude medical diagnosis of those with physical/mental disabilities in the 1940’s).  More amazing was Edith and Wendell Foster’s willingness to share their knowledge and experience with other families in similar circumstances and the continuous commitment over sixty years to provide invaluable services, care and independence for children with developmental disabilities.  Whatever apathy I had upon applying for this position transmuted into passion-arousing excitement at the opportunity to be an advocate for an inspirational group of people.  Eventually, I’m asked to return for a second interview and within a week, I’m offered the job!  
But then it happened.  Normal, not uncommon, and yet, unsettling for anyone stepping into an unfamiliar situation.  Naturally rising to the surface, generational, social and personal apprehensions reflected in this country’s history of discrimination, stereotyping, and fear.  A sense of dread set in as questions, doubt, fear reared ugly heads:  How do I relate to them?  Communicate?  Will I be adequate in dealing with them?  What if I can’t?  What will people think of me working with this population? Can I handle being around them?  Could I be comfortable around them?  Apprehension replaced my excitement.  The illusions disguised as an inability to relate, to understand and be around individuals whose physical appearances, verbal incapacities, and behavioral patterns seemed so severe tempted me to back out, to run the other direction.  But how can I think this way, feel this way?  I have volunteered with individuals with developmental disabilities before, and loved it!  Why am I hesitant?

Now I embark on a new adventure in my professional journey, joining WFC that’s positioned in a crossroads of strategic shift:  to improve the quality of services it delivers by embracing a mindset of “person-centered” service delivery to further expand the empowerment of our targeted population.  And I bring my baggage of fear, doubt, and apprehension in tow as I step through the doors of Wendell Foster’s Campus to report for my first day of work.

In the Next Blog Entry:  Leave Your Baggage at the Door - I was scared I would screw up: say the wrong thing; misunderstand what the clients say; not know how to relate, or; not “stomach” their physical appearances  . . . “

We want to hear from you!  Please share your responses and comments by clicking below on “Comment” – you may post them anonymously or using your profile name.

“The educated do not share a common body of information, but a common state of mind.” ~Mason Cooley
Please share our blog with others via Facebook, Twitter, or email!  Follow our blog!  Click on “Join our Site” below.

Blog content is copyrighted property of Wendell Foster’s Campus for Development Disabilities and Carolyn Smith Ferber and/or other blog authors).  Content may be used, duplicated or reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the Wendell Foster’s Campus.  Permission for use, duplication or reprints may be made to

No comments:

Post a Comment