Library Collections: Document: Full Text

Lost In A Desert World

Creator: Roland Johnson (author)
Date: 1994
Source: Available at selected libraries

Previous Page   Next Page   All Pages 

Page 13:


They would talk about what things going on in their life where they live. It would go on about an hour or so and then we shift it onto another topic. We would talk about, "I wasn't getting along in my CLA, because I was being abused by the system" -- problem solving.


The staff would find out and the director would find out, some kind of way -- you can't help it. "Well, you went and told them people that you did not like it here, so you don't go to that meeting." That's what would happen. So we would be losing our attendance.


It was my job to make sure that everybody get a chance. The thing about it was, they looked up to me, that "There's a man is giving me a chance to talk." They looked up at me. I don't know what they looked up at me for, but they looked up: "There he is." So I said, "Come on, talk. Don't be shy. Talk. That's why we're here for. Talk. Anything that you got on your mind, talk. Talk about it. Whatever you talk about in here, stays here; it will never go out nowhere else." And they talk about problems that they have every day, that they have on their minds.


Some of them talk about they didn't like their home, their living situation; they was not being treated well; the staff overspent their money, took their money. They talked about, "My staff hurt me." I know a guy came to our chapter and he talked almost over an hour, talked about a specific staff person that he didn't like. "I want that staff person moved out. I don't like that staff." It was very hard putting the pieces together. Very hard.


Well, I told him, "If it happens again, you bring it back to the chapter, and we'll. . .we'll fix it for you. We'll get somebody to work on it." And he brought it back and we moved.


I remember telling one of our members, "You know by not joining Speaking For Ourselves, you would not better as you was gotten better today? When you first came to Speaking For Ourselves you was quiet, in your little shell. But when you got used to Speaking For Ourselves, you really talking now; you really expressing yourself; you really coming out of your shell."


And they really did! And that's where it showed me, helped me to understand a lot of things about this organization. They had some power behind the organization.


Nancy axed me, "You might want to come out and look at the Board of Directors." So I came, one Thursday. That's when they had their board meetings, once a month. These was held at Plymouth Meeting Mall. I was still a chapter president. I went to the Board of Directors meetings before I came to be president. And then when that chapter president was ended, then I went to the board. And that's when I guess I got elected as president at the board. I was appointed by the Board of Directors as the President of the Board of Directors of Speaking For Ourselves.


Domenic was the board president before I got to be president. We talked together. Yeah, I went to him; we had several meetings about what should I do. I didn't know nothing about the role of being a president. So Domenic taught me about being a president. The board had a lot of things to do: keep the minutes and keeping people on time. He said to keep order and make sure the records are straight before they audit it and how to do Mark's evaluation once a year. He said, "You got to work with Mark; he's a hard man to work with; you got to hang in there with him; you got to keep him on target on everything." So I took his advice; I kept Mark on the ball. "Come on, Mark, on the ball. Stay off the phone." Domenic meant that Mark just talks a lot and can't concentrate well on a lot of things. He gave me some strong advice. We got Domenic a job as the treasurer, taking care of the books, writing out the checks and stuff.


The board meeting went from six-thirty to nine o'clock. Usual, we would be out of there by nine. But it was just talking about business, what to do. When the first time that I was president I said, "Gee, I don't know if I have the skills to do that."


We was closed out for the summer and when we started back up in September, we only had a few people come to the board and I said to Mark, "Where's all the members? Where are the Board of Directors? Where's everybody at? I'm kind of scared. Did I do something last year that made it something different this September? Are they scared because I'm a black person? Maybe they ain't showing because I'm a black colored person. Maybe that's why they ain't all showing, because I'm black."


He said, "Oh, that's not it. That's not it at all."


"I don't see them; I don't. I'm the president and I'm kinda scared. I don't know."


He said, "Maybe they had something to do; maybe that's why they didn't show."


"Maybe. . .Maybe so."


And I was so nervous, shaking in my boots. That here am I -- I'm in this board meeting, all by myself, and nobody shows up. It was only me and Mark and Nancy and Domenic.


It took me a while to get over that. Mark got me to pay attention of the presidency, to talk to people more and stop being shy. I got over it; I didn't think of that for long. Like I said, I had courage enough to do all this. I said, "We just do this, Mark." And it was faith, my faith: This is going to happen. Sooner or later, this is going to happen. No doubts. It's going to happen.

Previous Page   Next Page

Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22    All Pages