Recycling Used Books Builds Disability Community
By Teresa Keirns Contributing Writer
DisabledCommunity.Org (DCO) is a volunteer run, growing community resource (501 c 3) providing education to people living with disabilities, as well as to their family, friends, caregivers, healthcare providers and local social service agencies. DCO’s Executive Director, Lori Guidos, envisions DCO as a clearinghouse of information regarding a wide range of topics, including: employment, health care, recreation and transportation. Although DisabledCommunity.org is still in its infancy, Guidos’ plans are long-term, including raising consciousness around all types of disabilities, including developmental, mental and physical. She hopes to provide opportunities to bring people, often isolated by their disability, together to find meaningful projects and relationships.
Additionally, Guidos hopes DCO’s website will act as a kind of Craigslist tuned to the needs of the diverse disabled community. Guidos started DCO in 2004 after experiencing a disability in a motor vehicle accident. After two years of “being flat out,” Guidos says she wanted to become re-involved in her community, but severe back pain held her back until she received an implanted morphine pump at UCSF. Soon after, Guidos used her background in library sciences and information technology, as well as her Master’s in Gerontology to reach out from social isolation. Originally, DCO’s projects were developed on Lori Guidos’ own kitchen table, but since then DCO has expanded to a small, leased office and now includes many different projects such as community
fun(d)-raising events (“Everyone Can Dance” held in July 2009), an in-depth website, interactive volunteer opportunities, and an online bookstore. The online bookstore is the end product of the Training Booksellers program, which began in May 2009. This program teaches disabled participants (currently most participants are from Hope Services and Toolworks) how to sort and list donated books on DCO’s own Amazon bookseller’s site, as well as how to package and ship books to buyers. The Booksellers include a special touch —unique, hand-designed envelopes for each book sold. Currently DCO has over 2200 books listed, 12 regular Bookseller participants, and four coaches who come in to volunteer on Mondays and Fridays for two hours shifts. Guidos hopes other people living with different kinds of disabilities will become involved with this project.
On a recent visit to the DCO office, I sat down with a few of the Booksellers to get a sense of the path a donated book takes after arriving in their hands. Miles Fong and Jonas Ramirez both work with incoming donations, listing books on the website by ISBN code or title. Guidos then alphabetizes and shelves the books because it is a more complicated task. Cassie Alvarado, Scott Digre, and Luke “Duke” Claussen draw pictures on mailing envelopes and package the books. Daniel Copenhauer enjoys counting and depositing the money made from sales. Janine Dobleman is being trained to tracking expenses. Together the team walks the sold books to be mailed at the Potrero Center post office, where they are recognized and welcomed by the staff. Cathy Hochanadel, a Community Support Facilitator at Hope Services in Pacifica, reports that participants anticipate their weekly visit to DCOs office and chat about the number of books they hope will be awaiting their arrival.
The Training Booksellers program fits in with Hope Services’ goals of integrating people with disabilities into the general community. Hochanadel credits Guidos’ patience and guidance with the participants’ quick grasp of individual tasks. When wrapping up my visit with the Booksellers, I asked each Bookseller what they thought was most important to include in this news article, and they all agreed, ‘Tell them we need more books!”
The Kalmanovitz Library on the Parnassus campus has a conveniently located drop box for donating books to the DCO Bookseller program [across from the Service Desk by the main entrance]. DCO appreciates all book donations, but finds that textbooks provide the most sales revenue, allowing them to expand on currently offered programs. The current book drive will continue through the first weeks of the winter semester. Please consider donating your texts to this good cause! Local pick-up of your books in exchange for a tax receipt can be scheduled at your convenience by calling: 415-508-6130.
Other volunteer ways to help www.DisabledCommunity.Org grow include: Assisting with Fun-Raisers Being a Bookseller Mentor Collecting books for donations from your community Developing and maintaining website updates Experience with grants and/or business planning Educating a trainee in accounting functions and reports
To get involved with DCO, please contact Lori Guidos at: [email protected]
Teresa Reims is a second-year nurse-midwifery student.