Welcoming Week: What It Is, Why It’s Important

Posted on September 13, 2017

by Heather H

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Welcoming Week. Don’t feel bad…I didn’t raise my hand either. I’d never heard of this national initiative before, but it’s a good one and let me tell you why:

  • We need to come together as a nation better.
  • We need to be kinder to our neighbors and fellow citizens.
  • We can always enjoy new friendships.

Launched in 2009, Welcoming America (which runs Welcoming Week) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization which aims to tackle all of the above. At the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, we believe that it’s our duty to help build a welcoming culture, and so this year, we’re joining in on Welcoming Week!

Throughout the week, we’ll be asking questions from the More Than One Story Game on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. Get to know our staff, who have shared some of their stories below, and share your answer in a comment or tweet for a chance to win a prize bag. Also, join us for the following programs.

2017 Library Events

Welcoming Week Ice Cream Parties (Sa) September 16 | 2 – 4 p.m. | Sanger Branch (Sa) September 23 | 2- 4 p.m. | Main Library, Creativity Lab

More Than One Story Game (Th) September 21 | 5:30 – 8 p.m. | Main Library (during Art Loop) September 18 – 23 | Library Hours | King Road Branch & Sanger Branch

Once Upon A Place (art installation) September 15 – October 18 | Main Library

More Than One Story: Toledo Library Staff Play

Tell a story about a time when something hurt. Heather Hoffman (that’s me!), Marketing

Life is full of hurt. Unfortunately, I believe that’s something everyone can relate to. At the end of August, I had to say goodbye to my dog Rembrandt, who had been battling lymphoma. He (and I) were one of the lucky ones in that his cancer was slow-growing. For nearly a year, I was able to spend time with him cherishing every moment. We had a lot of road trips, doggie play dates, grandparent visits (where he got to eat steak, his favorite) and many many snuggles and “I love you’s.”

Despite knowing the day to say goodbye would come eventually, it didn’t make the hurt any less painful when that day did come. In fact, it broke my heart and I’m tearing up now just writing / reflecting on it. Pet people understand this hurt. Our pets are family. In some cases, even better than family!

What made that weekend particularly hard was also losing a friend unexpectedly the day after in an accident. That was a double hurt.

It’s never easy saying goodbye, and it hurts even worse when you don’t get a chance to – that’s why it’s so important to live each day in a way that allows our loved ones to truly feel loved. To remind them that they are important to us. So, I’d like to challenge you to spread some love today. You never know when that opportunity will be taken away from you.

Tell about someone you admire and why. Lupe Hertado, Main Library

Someone that I admire is my father. My father came to the United States as an immigrant from Mexico at the age of 16 with his older brother. They traveled by foot, leaving their father, mother, and siblings behind for a better way of life.

My dad and uncle did not speak English, had just an elementary education, but somehow managed to make it in the U.S. at a time when they were looked upon as trash. My dad and uncle eventually settled in Ohio where he met my mother. They raised all four children while my mom stayed at home and took care of us and my dad worked on the railroad. My dad has always been a hard worker and has taught all his kids that nothing in life is free, you either have to go to school or work hard for the rest of your life.

One of my proudest moments of my dad was when he became a U.S. citizen and was sworn in at the Toledo Art Museum. My mom and I were there to celebrate with my dad. Here he was , after he had already retired, and wanted to make it official and become a U.S. citizen. These are just a few reasons why I admire my father, I could write a book on all the things he has done for me and my family. He is a true hero in my eyes and an inspiration.

Describe a place where you lived as a child. Erin Connolly, Main Library Humanities

There were 2 lions that sat on my front porch. I sang to them and told them stories. They were my pets, my friends, and my imaginary protectors. My parents had moved quite a distance and as new parents, the residents of this street provided friendship and became like an adopted family. Their kids were my first babysitters and where I got my first nickname. When I was three years old, we moved from that home on Pennsylvania Avenue with the tacky concrete lions and into another home nearby.

I’m certain I demanded my parents to visit and very likely demanded to bring the lions along. Even now when I drive past the house, I can’t help remembering the lions but mostly I miss the people on Pennsylvania Avenue who sparked a wild imagination.

Tell about someone you admire and why. Rhonda Sewell, External & Governmental Affairs

I’ve long admired the late iconic jazz vocalist and songwriter Billie Holiday (1915-1959). In addition to my mother’s first name also being Billie, whom I admire more than anyone, my first memory of listening to Billie Holiday was from the homes of my grandmother Lavenia Walton, and my great-grandmother Lennie “Mama Lennie” Patterson.

Holiday’s sometimes hauntingly deep voice always intrigued me as a child, and as I grew into adulthood and studied the power of her lyrics in college, I grew to admire everything about Lady Day.

The reasons why I most admire Ms. Holiday is because of her boldness in addressing the serious issues of the day through song, primarily lynching in the deep South in her chilling song Strange Fruit. Her label Columbia Records refused to allow her to record the emotional piece, so she recorded it on another label, Commodore, and the song went on to be one of her classics and most poignant. I also admire Ms. Holiday for the way she rose to prominence with a distinct voice, considered now to be one of the greatest jazz voices of all time. Billie Holiday is a musical legend and will forever be my muse of admiration.

Tell about how a film or a book has influenced you. Joseph Cowley, King Road Branch

My grandmother was an amazing woman. She was always a warm, nurturing presence that I looked forward to seeing when we traveled to visit her. She was the type of grandmother that would give us cake for breakfast, always planned special things for us to do, and left us feeling loved, protected, and unique.

Sadly enough, when I was 10 she was diagnosed with lung cancer that turned out to be inoperable. When she passed, she made sure to give each of the grandchildren something personal in her will. She gave me a boxed set of the Lord of the Rings, including the Hobbit. To this day, every time I see the book, movie, animated movie, or my Hobbit phone case, I think of her and all we did together. Without fail, I read the Hobbit at least twice a year, and it is always a special experience.

Tell about someone you admire and why. Jessica Migliorini, King Road Branch

Who makes me feel good? Although I love my husband and three kids dearly, my favorite cheerleader is my mom! She always tells me how proud she is of the woman I’ve become, both as a librarian and a mom.

And when I’m having a bad day, I can always count on my momma to say just the right thing to make me feel loved, cherished, and “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Tell a story of your choice from an experience in your life. Julie Erhart-Walton, Sanger Branch

I had the privilege of being at the bedside of both my mother and father as they lay dying, 21 years apart. My father’s death was somewhat unexpected, even though he’d been ill my entire life. He had overcome a variety of sicknesses so many times throughout his life, part of me thought he was invincible. I blame my lack of clarity regarding the seriousness of his final illness on my youth, as I was only 22 years old. I sat in the hospital room, surrounded by family and close friends, waiting for all the siblings to arrive so we could turn off life support and watch him take his last breaths. Looking back, I remember very little, outside of feeling a disbelief, and sadness, and a little fear.

When I was with my mom, I was much more aware of the gift I had been given. She had finally lost her battle with dementia after well over a decade. In the last year of her life, breast cancer moved her more quickly along that road. It had been a long journey, for both her and her children. Once again, she had survived so much, part of me didn’t believe she would ever succumb to death. Bladder cancer, mental illness, Alzheimer’s, breast cancer: all were battles valiantly fought. And despite the combination of exhaustion, frustration, and full-blown anger I often felt whenever confronted head on with mom’s difficulties, I was not quite ready to say goodbye. But when the hospice nurse called me at work to suggest I come visit, I decided to heed her advice. Considering I stayed by mom’s bedside from the moment I arrived that morning until a couple hours after she died, I am glad I did. Getting to spend the last 15 hours of her life with her was a beautiful thing.

It’s hard to put into words the calm I felt, watching her breathe fairly easily for the first time in a long time. The morphine helped all her struggles fall away, helped her relax in a way I hadn’t seen in a very long time. I got to spend time during those twilight hours with several of my siblings and their spouses, my children and nieces and nephews, and the amazing staff at the home she lived in. And by the time her breathing was more labored, indicating the end was near, I felt ready to say goodbye. At least as ready as one can be in that situation.

My parents welcomed me into the world, taught me to be loving and kind and grateful for life, and I got to say goodbye to them as they breathed their last breath. This is an indescribable gift, but I have done my best to describe it to you here. Be welcoming, loving, and caring. It makes living and dying infinitely more pleasurable.

Tell a story about an embarrassing moment. Pete Hildebrandt, Main Library Teen Metro

In 1989, I was lucky enough to be sponsored by the West Ohio District of Rotary International to travel to the Frankfurt, Germany district on a group study exchange for the entire month of October. I was one of five young professionals traveling the area and spending time in schools, learning about the German education system. We were also wined and dined in the evenings by each local club in some very nice restaurants.

One evening, the hosting club treated us to a meal in a medieval castle. A German Rotarian in a beautiful off-white silk Italian suit sat next to me. When the waitress approached with several glasses of wine, I was telling an animated story and using my hands to make a point. I regretfully knocked five large glasses of red wine onto this poor gentleman sitting next to me. All conversation at the banquet stopped and I profusely apologized to him. Unbelievably he just sat there saying nothing for two to three minutes, before silently getting up and leaving the banquet room.

I was beyond mortified and ended up sending him several German marks (they used them before the Euro) to help pay for his dry cleaning, but I’m sure his beautiful Italian suit was ruined. I never heard back from him but I was sure I was going to start and international incident with my carelessness.

Tell about a time when you succeeded. Mary Rava Miller, Main Library Children’s Library

Growing up, I was an EXTREMELY shy child. I am the youngest of six and was always glued to my mom’s side. I was afraid of my own shadow! When it came time to choose a career, I wanted to be a teacher like my dad. But how was someone who couldn’t even call to order a pizza, let alone talk in front of a class, to do that?

I put aside my fears and got experience in college coursework with speaking in class, which I never did as a child. I received superior reviews as a student teacher, and little by little I became more comfortable speaking to, and in front of, people. Now 30 years later, I am a children’s librarian. I can entertain a hundred kids through stories and puppet shows, and I ENJOY it. And as far as speaking in front of adults? I still get butterflies….but hopefully no one knows that but me!

Tell a story about someone you admire. Judy Jones, Heatherdowns Branch

One of the people that I admire most would be my Dad. He is almost 90 years old and I am fascinated by the life he has lived.

Despite growing up in the racially charged south with Jim Crow and struggling through the fight for Civil Rights, he has always been a man of compassion. When I was very, very young, about three or four years old, I was playing in our backyard and watching the neighbor trim his tree. It seems like just yesterday I was staring up at the man in the tall, tall tree with the sunlight bursting through the leaves and branches when this neighbor fell. I ran in the house to my Dad, and somehow from my gibberish he understood there was something wrong. I will never forget how quickly he ran out the door and in a flash, he was over the fence in one huge leap.

I can hardly remember the order of things after that but that action defines who he was as a young man and who he is today. Somebody who is quick to come the aid of those in need, a man of action. No, he’s not jumping over fences but he is diligent about visiting the sick, taking care of those less fortunate, and answering the call when he hears it.

Tell about something you have created or want to create. Krysta Sa, King Road Branch

One day I want to create a public bath house for women in Toledo. Creating spaces for women to feel safe as well as connect, relax and process. I love taking baths and truly believe they enhance the quality of my life. I want to project video art installations on the ceiling so you can look at beautiful things while bathing.

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