Yesterday, I lost a good friend and mentor who taught me a great deal about writing. Seeing the outpouring of support, he continues to receive has caused me to reflect on how fortunate I am to be integrated into my community. Most people with disabilities, like mine, experience some form of social isolation at some point in their lives. Luckily at this point, I haven’t experienced such confinement or loneliness. During my entire tenure at Guilford College, Doug Smith was a huge factor in preventing any feelings of isolation, which can occur to any student. Although I only had a few classes with him, I would regularly see him during lunch. The dining hall had an accessible table that he would sit near, so we had to pass each other every day. One thing that impressed me about him was he learned my speech pattern reasonably well.
As a writer, he was always challenging me to go deeper into my feelings. He always wanted me to experiment with poetry, but to this day I’m intimidated by that form of writing. I can remember one time when he helped me edit one of my articles for The Guilfordian. I can’t remember why he was helping, because I usually worked with other tutors who helped me edit my articles. But, on this particular occasion, he happened to be in the learning commons, and we wound up having long conversations about his background and writing while using all five senses. It was fascinating to add that perspective to my newspaper writings, which tended to lean towards the drier side, except for the quotes. I was very persuasive in my interviews to receive great quotes to help liven up articles.
Even after I graduated from Guilford College, Doug kept up with me. I know for a fact that he read a lot of my Huffington Post blogs. I try to be involved in my community like Doug was in Guilford’s. So far I’d say it’s paying off, I’ve just returned from Asheville where The North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities held its quarterly meeting. We made a special effort to include community leaders from the western side of the state, and I was amazed at the number of leaders that I already knew from previous disability rights activities. One lady said that the reason she came to the Council meeting was that she knew I was going to be there. I feel honored to be able to represent the disability community in so many conferences across the state and to have that effect on people.
I’m getting ready to step out of my comfort zone and become even more involved in my hometown. I was accepted into the next class for Leadership Winston-Salem. Unlike many of my other leadership classes, this program doesn’t have anything to do with disability rights but concentrates more on civic duties. Increasing community involvement is one primary goal. I’m excited to see how this goes, and I am told that I am the first person with my disability type to participate. I’m sure there will be challenges, but I know my class and I will learn together. I hope I have a positive impact on Winston-Salem through the program. I’ll let you know.
I know Doug would have been proud of me.
That’s how I roll…
- Posted by Bryan Dooley
- On September 20, 2018
- 0 Comments