Sometimes I think it’s a rare treat that I love my job as much as I do. It’s usually reinforced by friends or family talking about how boring their day was or how annoying a client is. Of course, yes, there are days I feel overwhelmed or my eyes are blurry from a bit too much time at the computer that day (I’m not at my computer all that often so it doesn’t take much). As the public programs specialist at the Roosevelt Library I get to work at the presidential library of the greatest president of the 20th century. And, even better, it’s my job to provide public programs that enable our visitors to learn more about both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and all of the wonderful things they have left to the American people.
One of the best aspects of my job is working with colleagues. None of these programs I organize I can truly call my own. And honestly, I LOVE that. They are a collaborative effort of the hard working Library administrators, staff and volunteers and I’m lucky enough to be the guy that pulls it all together. People make these programs happen.
But perhaps the most important people are the attendees; those who have taken time out of their day to visit us and learn about the great legacies of the Roosevelts. I think my favorite moment at the Library so far was during the question-and-answer session following a book talk about five years ago. The author took advantage of the situation and asked the first question of a captive Hyde Park audience of about 60 people. She wanted to know to what extent Hyde Park residents were aware of FDR’s disability back in the ‘30s and ‘40s. She unexpectedly got a firsthand account.
One of Hyde Park’s long time residents told a story from his childhood. He described a day in which FDR arrived late to church. Around the time he became aware that the President wasn’t there yet he felt a sensation similar to the hair standing up on one’s arm. He then heard softly, and then louder, the sound of metal braces coming closer and closer to the open doorway of St. James Church. He knew – without turning around – the President had arrived. FDR’s disability was so a part of who he was that it hardly registered as a disability at all to this young boy. And it made no difference to him. As I watched the man tell this story I could see that his description had given half the audience goose bumps. We all heard FDR approaching that door. For me, that program rose above the rest.
I celebrated 15 years as a federal employee this month. Those years included two college summers as an architect technician with the Historic American Building Survey, almost six years as a park ranger at Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut, and going on nine years here at the Roosevelt Library managing both public affairs and public programs. While there are many events and programs here which leave me feeling good about my work – the annual Roosevelt Reading Festival, naturalization ceremonies, and just about anything with the March of Dimes – there will always be the unexpected few that rise above the rest. And that’s exactly why I do what I do.
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