Phil's Gratitude Diary
April 2, 2020
I always begin my phone calls the same way: with an introduction and a simple thanks.
As the Major Gifts Officer at Friends of the Hennepin County Library, I have the privilege of getting to know some of the incredible donors who support our library’s work and mission. Now, in the time of social distancing, this means phone calls. Lots of phone calls.
The world has started to shift away from calls, but the Stay-at-Home order has brought them back in a new way. Now, simply hearing a voice can be a breath of fresh air from hours of screens, texts and emails. Still, at the very beginning, there can be a slight wariness from the person answering the call. The conversations quickly warm, though, usually with the thank you, the open invitation to talk and be heard.
This time has given me the chance to talk with more people than ever, both donors who I’ve gotten to know well over my past year at Friends and donors who I’m introducing myself to for the first time. But the common thread that weaves together these conversations from the past few weeks is that people who give to the library give because the library has an emotional significance to them—they just love their library.
I spoke with a woman who had been volunteering at Ridgedale two days a week for years and cannot wait to continue giving her time. I talked with someone who had been visiting the Walker Library since the 80s, who’s now interested in continuing to access the collection through the library’s online offerings. I spoke with a man who has been delving deeply into the library’s online digital resources for his research on Mark Twain. The library is offering him access to the same stories that Twain would have been reading, so he is able to share in a common experience with the author, reading Twain’s source material to gather context before reading Twain’s own writing.
Phone calls go two ways. We both speak; we both listen. We both feel the weight of our current reality, but we also feel the lightness that comes from sharing a conversation with another person. I’m looking forward to even more conversations to come, to sharing in the gratitude, the anxiety, the joy, the boredom, and the optimism of our Friends.