Tara M

On WednesdayApril 6th I attended my last service learning at UCP. When I arrived with Chad there were few people there. We asked one of the employees there to answer a few of our questions for the Wiki page but they were unable to do so. Then I began to help some of the consumers into the building. I witnessed a yelling fight between one woman and others that were around her. I then helped a bus full of customers into the building including two people in wheelchairs. I began to help Junior and Marc do their puzzles. Junior was doing his usual asking questions about whether we were friends as he did his puzzle. Marc, who is in a wheelchair, was doing his puzzle and would sometimes stop to hold my hand. Holding my hand is something that both Marc and Junior have done before. As we did the puzzles Junior and Marc seemed to fight for my attention. I also began to color a little bit with Gary. One of the woman in charge of the place had asked to speak to me real quick. It was at this point that I had learned that through helping Marc and allowing him to hold my hand showed that I was turning him on and that if it continued there would be problems. Then I went back to helping Gary and Chad color. It was soon time for the daily lesson. Today they learned about the North Pole. It was also one girls birthday so everyone sang to her, and learned about her birthday. It was movie day following that and they put in an old movie that Nancy B had requested to watch the day before. During both movie time and the daily lesson, I observed the way the consumers acted with one another. Gary, who seemed to have picked up on Susie’s agitation that day, continued to egg her on he would not leave her alone until she yelled.
As I left UCP for the final time, I felt completely confused and embarassed. I did not know that I was somehow turning Marc on. I had worked with him other times and he had held my hand and no one said anything to me. Other consumers there also try to hold hands with me. After I had been spoken to I tried to ignore Marc, but then felt bad for leaving him alone so I brought him to color with Chad, Gary and I. I never felt more uncomfortable than I did at that time. I wish that one of the employees would have told me in the beginning more about how to handle touching.
Through this last service learning experience I fully realized Thomson’s writting on how the disabled are not a community. Seeing the way Gary and Susie interacted was almost the icing on the cake. Throughout my eight hours at UCP I have witnessed some consumers being mean and ignoring other consumers. They do not bond becuase they have the same problems in life. Rather, they treat one another the same way they do the “normal” people that are in the room at the time.

Wednesday morning Jen and I went to UCP. We got there and there was very few consumers there. We sat down at a table, but was told we might have to move when Felicia arrived. We sat and talked and Junior came in. We did some puzzles with him for awhile. The whole time he was telling us, ” he liked us, we were friends and buddies, and also that he was proud of us”. We sat there and did puzzles with him, and then Marc came over. Marc is a man, who is in a wheelchair and is hard to understand. I began to do puzzles with him. He was very good at them. Then it was about 9:20 and it was time for current events. Today they talked about cleanliness in the kitchen and ways to prevent germs in food. Then we heard a lecture about fires inside the kitchen. After this was over a list of names that would be going on a van trip was called outloud. Earlier when I first arrived, Stephanie asked me if I could go on a van trip with Becky (another employee), I said yes. She said that the rest of the group would be baking rice-krispie squares and those on the van would be those consumers that were not allowed in the kitchen. I helped call out the names of the consumers going on the van ride. They were instructed to go to the bathroom and get their coats on. Many of these consumers did not listen right away. I helped them get their coats on and line up in front of the counter. We then waited for Becky to drive the van around front. This was chaos because some of the consumers didn’t want to wait and others didn’t want to go on the van trip. Then the van pulled in front and I helped those on to the van. The consumers going on the van trip were, Mary, Jim, Brian, Darlene, Nancy B., Gary, David, and Arlene. Becky and I got them all on to the van and helped them with their safety-belts. Then Becky noticed that Mary was asking a lot about going back to alternatives, she asked me to count the number of times that Mary did so. The entire van ride was quite for the most part except for when “Man I Feel Like a Woman” came on the radio then Arlene sang it as loud as she could. I sat next to Gary who was very excited to see the ducks at the pond. The entire van trip lasted probably twenty-five minutes. In that time Mary asked about alternatives 97 times. We then got back to UCP and I hung around and left a few minutes after. The final few minutes of my time was spent trying to keep Mary out of the kitchen and trying to calm down Arlene who had begun to scream about her pens.
I felt very comfortable there today, altough I felt as though my patience was running very low. When Junior would interupt me or talk over people to say that he liked me and that we were buddies, I became slightly annoyed because I was trying to work with other people. Then on the bus when Mary asked 97 times about going back to alternatives, and not to mention the other repeative questions about lunch, sweeping, and her stuffed animals, I began to get annoyed. I felt vey comfortable today talking and helping out consumers I had never met or talked to before.
Today working with both Junior and Mary, allowed me to consider Lionel in Motherless Brooklyn. Junior only seemed to keep repeating his phrases when he seemed more threatened by other consumers trying to work with me. Mary also seemed to have some ticish tendencies. Whenever she would ask me about alternatives it was usually in a group of three; one right after the other. After these three questions it was usually followed by a scream or a mumble, only to shortly come back to the questions again. Mary did not ask these questions once the van pulled up in front of UCP, therefore I believe that she only asked this when she was out of her comfort zone.

Chad, Jen, and myself arrived at UCP at 8:30 on Friday morning. When we arrived there were no customers and we were left alone at a small table. We were asked to help some of the customers off the bus and into the building. I helped a man named Ken, who wore a helmet and made very loud noises with his jaw. I then helped him take his jacket off and sat back down with chad and jen. Next a woman named Darlene came up to me and began to talk to me while rubbing my arm. She soon grabbed my hair and began to say pretty. Soon after Junior came in and was happy to see us. The building soon became more and more crowded as more individuals arrived. I observed other customers doing peg boards, folding towels, and doing puzzles. Junior sat with us and we decided to do a puzzle with him. Just as the last time he continued to repeat that we were his buddies, friends, and that he loved us. As we were working on a puzzle a man that helps a blind man travel to UCP came in and began to ‘mess’ with Junior. He was almost taunting Junior and Junior became flustered. We finished one puzzle and began another. Then it was time for everyone to gather together. At this point one of the employees there read about Women’s History month and spoke about famous women. A second employee then read about how Saturday was to be Junior’s birthday. We learned that Junior was going to be 40, why he liked his birthday, and what he wanted to do for his birthday which was to go to Red Lobster. Then the same woman announced the customers that would be travelling to the Carlisle Mall for a field trip. Junior was one of those that would be going. Employees helped customers put their coats on and get them ready to go. As the entire group left I realized that one woman was suppose to be with them but had be left behind. I asked if she wanted to go to the mall too, she said yes, I held her hand and took her to the bus. I went back inside and sat down with Chad and Jen. I watched as some customers danced to music on the cd player. One customer, named Jim, I tried to talk to but he choose to ignore me and hide from me. Later I noticed he was picking up dirt off the floor and eating it. Mary was also coming up to us infrequently to ask about lunch and her stuffed animals. Then it was time for us to go. We talked with Stephanie about coming in the following week and left.
This time at UCP, I was conflicted in many of my emotions. I found myself uncomfortable again with Junior. He liked to hug men and would pull me closer to him as he did so. He also touched me inaproperiatly. I wanted to work with Junior and continue to be his friend but I often felt awkward around him. I also felt very uncomfortable when Darlene grabbed my hair. For most of my time there I observed the workers at UCP. They did not seem to oversee what the customers were doing, nor did they seem to have an exact plan on what to do. I observed two of them in a verbal dispute over a customer going to the mall. I feel as though the laid back attitude of the employees there allows the customers to do as they please. My first reaction of shock was to watch the way the man that taunted Junior. Here is a man that cares for one individual as his job and then goes in and teases Junior. I think the man was joking in his actions but it still seemed inapproperiate to me.
Through this second experience I was able to understand and apply the reading. Through Thomson’s reading I read about how ‘Non-disabled people’ often feel awkward around a person with a disability. I feel as though in this experience more so than last week, I felt awkward around some of the customers. Although I have had past experience, I feel as though working with adults that are older than me, I tend to feel more awkward than I would if the customer was closer in age to myself.

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