By Mike Boelter
As a Rotarian, sometimes our impact to the world is measured in the large things we do. Sometimes we need to pay close attention to the little things that really define us as Rotarians.
Ron Kuramoto and I had the pleasure to participate in a book distribution for the Rotary Brewers Reading Partnership at Allen Field School recently. During the second class coming into the library, the kids shuffled anxiously through the rows of books trying to decide which one was best for them. They then systematically lined up to have the books stamped and signed, but one student, Juan was very, very different.
He never really made a sound, and no one talked to him at all. He stood in line patiently with his book clutched closely to him. When it was his turn, he slowly and with some hesitation gave the book to Ron who stamped the book, then signed it. Ron smiled at him and Juan had but a very small shallow smile on his face.
He moved to me and I said, “Hey Juan buddy, how ‘ya doin…? He gave me the book and said, “Good, Ok…”. Since his book was about dogs, I asked him, “I bet you love dogs!”. Juan said “yeh, cool…”. With that, both the librarian and his teacher noticeably gasped at Juan’s conversation with me—and I was curious why.
While the class filed out, Juan’s teacher came to me and whispered that Juan was autistic and had NEVER spoken a word to many people, much less anyone he didn’t know very well. His brief and seemingly incidental conversation with me, at this brief moment in time on that day is what being a Rotarian is about.