Above and beyond: more than just a job

By on February 26, 2012

Photo: Residents of the Meadows Apartments give a thank you to traveling librarians Susan Humm and Terry Stewart. Pictured are (front row) Shirley Challand, Alice Zielinski, Terri Lynn Doremus, (back row) Pat Sutton, Linda Tomko and Peggy Gallegos. Photo by Lynn Meredith

by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—A group of residents at the Meadows apartments want to express their thanks and appreciation for all the personal touches and thoughtful generosity the traveling librarians from the Elburn Town and Country Library, Susan Humm and Terry Stewart, have brought them. They couldn’t say enough nice things about what it means to them to have the librarians not only bring them books once a week, run a Bingo game once a month or make them homemade treats, but also stop and visit, ask about their day and really spend time with them.

“They go the extra mile, above and beyond,” Meadows resident Terri Lynn Doremus said. “We want the community to know what a gift they are to us. They (Humm and Stewart) say they are just doing their job, but they are not just doing their job.”

Their job is part of the Home Bound Outreach program through the library’s Adult Services division. It initially began as an outreach to patrons in the Library District who couldn’t leave their home. Eventually it reached into the nearby Meadows apartments in Elburn, a residence for people 55 and older.

“We started with five patrons, and now we’re at 20,” Cathy Korthals, director of Adult Services for the library said. “We reached out to the Meadows because we knew people who would come into the library and say that so and so couldn’t get out.”

Humm and Stewart take one day a week—a full day—to visit not only individual apartments at the Meadows but other homebound in the library’s district. The program is a frontline for people who may just have had hip surgery or have a disability and don’t have family members who can be there. Humm and Stewart receive special training to respond to frontline care.

They bring books to individuals each week. The person initially fills out a form telling the librarians what kinds of books they like or what authors they read. The librarians will find a particular book even if they have to send away through Interlibrary Loan, or they will bring books they think the person might like. Residents at the Meadows say they do far more than that.

“I play the piano, so they bring me music. I pick out the pieces I like, and they make copies for me,” resident Shirley Challand said.

Other residents say that they get jigsaw puzzles, DVDs, and even crossword puzzles printed from the computer brought to them by the librarians. But it’s the personal touches that make the residents sing their praises.

“I have dialysis in the morning, and I need to sleep afterward. I leave the books I’ve read on top of the garbage can outside, and she takes them and puts the new ones there, so as not to disturb the dog or wake me,” Doremus said.

Challand had a nasty fall and said not only was Stewart there to her rescue with ice bags, but she took her to the hospital and stayed with her, as well.

Property manager Debbie Lechelt said that the program is great because there are a lot of people there who can’t drive.

“They really bring a lot of joy into their lives,” Lechelt said.
Korthals said that this successful program wasn’t possible until she found the right people for the job. She describes Humm and Stewart as warm and friendly, outgoing and patient. The residents of the Meadows can top that description.

“Susan is goofy. She’s just fun,” Linda Tomko said. “She’s energetic and very compassionate. Terry is quieter. She’s a sweetheart. They work off each other. I can’t imagine one without the other.”

Other women chimed in that the librarians are angels and that everybody there would like to adopt them.

But the love goes both ways.

“Susan and Terry just love them (the patrons) to pieces,” Korthals said.