"I had their undivided attention."

Len Addington By Len Addington, 12th Feb 2018 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Eyes & Vision

In this life, we can be so focused on our busyness that we put our health concerns second to other things that are urgent and require our attention.

We should study our family history, and research the conditions we find that have afflicted family members in the past. Knowing about heart disease, cancer, diabetes or mental illness could help us better monitor our own health.

My elderly landlord

Years ago my wife and I rented an old farmhouse from an elderly man who my mother-in-law said was a distant relative, a second or third cousin. Though I was told how we were related, the trail of genes or family seemed strange, and I’ve long since forgotten the connection. Hammond was a kind soft-spoken men, who I never heard say anything ill of another person.

The Rotary

After we moved in we learned that Hammond had been active in the local Rotary for years. One day he approached me as I was cutting the grass. He reminded me that he belonged to the Rotary and told me a little about them. One requirement of the members was to find a guest speaker for each monthly meeting. This duty was shared by all, and it happened that it was Hammond’s turn to find a guest speaker for next month’s meeting.

The Invitation

Hammond then asked me if I would be that guest speaker. He advised me that there would probably be about 30 men there, mostly businessmen, and a few retirees. These men would be somewhere in their early thirties to eighty years old or so. I was in my late twenties and did not consider myself a great public speaker. Hammond saw my expression of reluctance and advised me I would get a free steak dinner before my presentation. More out of respect than desire, I agreed to be the guest speaker for the upcoming Rotary Club meeting.

My work experience

I had completed a graduate degree in Psychology and worked at a sheltered workshop as a Work Adjustment Counselor. All the clients at the facility had disabilities and had been referred by the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation or Veterans Administration. My caseload was a mix of individuals with physical and psychiatric disabilities. My job was to teach them appropriate work behaviors and help them obtain suitable employment.

Nervous about my topic and presentation

On the night of the Rotary meeting, I felt nervous, and unsure what I would say. I thought about my degree in counseling and job as a Counselor. I wasn’t sure this would be of any interest to them. I also thought that once this evening was over, I’d probably not be asked to return again as a speaker. I worried that my presentation would be remembered as the one night everyone, including Hammond, wished they’d stayed home.

My Audience

As I entered the Williamsburg Inn I was directed to the dining room. The room was nearly full, and more men came after I was seated. As Hammond had said, the men there were in their 30's or older. There was as much gray hair as any other color. Every man present was wearing a suit and tie; no one was casually dressed. The business meeting began, and we sang, Rotary, my Rotary as part of the venue.

I had their undivided attention.

As I looked around the room I noted every man present was wearing eyeglasses.
I was introduced to the audience and began with the statement, “Everyone in this room is disabled.” After about five seconds I asked, “How many of you could drive home if I took your glasses away?” I had their undivided attention. I continued with a discussion of acceptable disabilities, such as poor eyesight, hidden disabilities, such as heart disease or diabetes, and uncomfortable disabilities, such as neurosis, psychosis and schizophrenia. I suggested they consider that at some time in the future they would have or know someone who would have one of these conditions, and they should be prepared to show kindness or caring that the person may not get from others.

As you grow older...

I advised them that as they aged they would perhaps develop limitations or health conditions which would impact their activities of daily living. I also advised them that those who were Veterans could seek help from the Veterans Administration Medical Centers, and others could seek help from other local or state government agencies. I encouraged them to research these resources while they were in good health, rather than to suddenly find themselves in a situation where they felt overwhelmed and helpless. Knowing these resources would be a good start to helping maintaining their independence, or helping family or friends to cope with the unexpected when it happens.

As the meeting ended.

At the end of the presentation, some of the men indicated a sense of urgency to think more seriously about their health and thanked me for discussing something they had never given thought to. Hammond was also grateful that I had talked about something that would not soon be forgotten, and could make a difference in the lives of the men who had attended the Rotary meeting that evening.


Disability, Health, Rotary Club

Meet the author

author avatar Len Addington
I worked as a Counselor for 40 years. I gave my clients dignity and worth and modeled a life of integrity. I will post articles on careers and counseling and anecdotes.S

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author avatar Glenn Addington
16th Feb 2018 (#)

Sure sounds different than my account of it...,. GOOD JOB!

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