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GROWING OLD GRACEFULLY AND DOING IT ON WHEELS

Scott Smith
Program Director

Last Saturday, I went to the barbershop to have my bi-monthly haircut, the reader may ask at this point why is this significant?… During the haircut I began to wonder how old I looked I also began to remember what I used to look like with long flowing hair and beard accompanied by an earring.

In my mind’s eye I began to relive some of the good old days. I used to spend weekends in Greenwich Village, particularly Washington Square Park, where music was heard everywhere played on any kind of instrument that could make a sound. I was all but 16 at the time living in the suburbs of Rockland County, and I wanted something different. The big city, the music, and the people kept drawing me there like a moth to a flame. During the week I would go to school at the local CP center but on the weekends it was back down to Greenwich Village. I felt a part of something, not sure what it was, but I knew it was special. I also felt my disability of cerebral palsy was not unusual or different down here where everyone was different. It was to be the summer of Woodstock and I met my brother’s friend, Richie Havens who happened to open the Woodstock Music Festival. I met Richie in the hallway of his apartment and we talked for an hour about music and what I wanted to do with my life. He said “you can’t sit around and do nothing you must contribute to the society around you, work with what you know and what you love will come out of it.” I really didn’t know what he meant but I knew that he was referring to not wasting your life on something useless or mundane.

That summer of 1969 opened my eyes to the helping profession. I began to read books articles on different helping fields, however it was not until 1976, when I first came into contact with a social worker. At this time I was in a nursing home wondering what I was going to do with my life. My parents were elderly, my brothers and sisters were married and/or moved on and I was alone with my own thoughts and worries. it was at this time that I learned about the human service program offered by Rockland Community College. In the fall of 1978 I took the introductory course and the rest is history. I completed my Associates degree in human services in 1980. Soon after entered the Dominican College School of Social Work in the fall of that year and graduated in 1983. I volunteered/worked at a developmental center known in this state of New York as Letchworth Village in 1984, and I entered the Hunter College School of Social Work in the spring of 1988. Now, 28 years later, I have been working for Westchester Disabled On the Move Inc. for over 25 years.

All of this seems so far away -I have come far and I have been able to assist many people here at the center. At 64 years old I do not feel old, I feel 64 years young. I would tell those who read this blog: follow your dreams however bizarre or far away they may be. You may get lucky- dream your dream today and it will be your reality tomorrow. Richie is gone now, but I remember his advice to follow your passion.

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