My volunteer experience with the Boston Book Festival on Sat, Oct 19, 2019.
Sometimes volunteering can be for selfish reasons
This is very sad to say, but I never knew the Boston Book Festival existed until a few weeks ago. This great annual event has been in existence for ten years now, and I had no clue about it. I would have missed it again had I not seen the volunteer opportunity posting on BostonCares.com. I guess I really am a hermit.
I signed up to volunteer, but honestly, I really signed up because I wanted to listen to some author talks. Yes, I could have just went to the event since it is for free, but something told me to help out the festival. Everything happens for a reason, and later on, I found out why.
Here is a snippet about the Boston Book Festival:
“The Boston Book Festival celebrates the power of words to stimulate, agitate, unite, delight, and inspire by holding year-round events culminating in an annual, free Festival that promotes a culture of reading and ideas and enhances the vibrancy of our city.” BostonBookFest.org
Here is a copy of the posting looking for volunteers on the Boston Cares Website:
“The Boston Book Festival is celebrating its 11th year and in 2019 we’ll welcome nearly 300 authors and 30,000 attendees for FREE author talks, book signings, workshops, children’s book character meet-and-greets, kids crafts, and more. Volunteers will act as ushers for the event. In all positions, the goal is to efficiently fill the room before an event begins, to answer attendees’ questions, and to clear the room quickly after the event.”
Disappointment and Delight
I was on sensory overload the minute I arrived at the Greenline. Being super nieve or maybe just plain stupid, I thought the subway would be empty since it was the weekend. I was under the false impression all the weekday commuters would all be home enjoying some downtime with their families, and I would have a subway car all to myself. I found a parking spot quickly enough at Alewife, but I forgot The Head of the Charles was happening this weekend, along with the Orange Line being shut down. Park Station was a zoo! I never saw so many people. People packed the platform, “What did I get myself into?” but I jockeyed my way through the hoards of patiently waiting people to get a snug spot on the next arriving car.
Boston Public Library
Three stops down, we arrived at the Copley Street station where I disembarked. My suffering went away as soon as a view of the Boston Public Library (BPL) enveloped my gaze. I could have spent the entire morning slowly taking in the architecture and artwork of this building. I plan to go back for a free public tour of the facility next year. https://www.bpl.org/visit-central-library/art-tours/#public_tours
I met up with the Boston Cares team leader, Nancy and approx a dozen other volunteers. Nancy told us we would work in the Emmanuel Church venue today. “Whoa, what? I signed up to help in the BPL, not in a church.” I didn’t know there were different venues where various author talks would take place. I did not voice my disappointment, but silently I started to regret my decision to help. I thought I would miss all the great speakers
Lead me not into temptation
As we walked towards our volunteer venue, I became very much aware that we were going closer and closer to the mecca of shopping in the Boston area, Newbury Street. I wanted to veer off course and make my way into the Chanel boutique, but I pressed on following our leader.
When we arrived at Emmanuel Church, I was awestruck by its beautiful stone facade. Inside, the sanctuary was beyond gorgeous. The stained glass, the ornate carvings, the wood… if the walls could talk, what prayers would they whisper?
Words that inspire, frighten and dare us to dream
They assigned the Boston Cares volunteers to different duties. Some would help with attendees at the front door, others would help in the book signing area, and they entrusted me and one other person to help in the VIP area. We would keep non-VIP people out of the VIP pews until ten minutes before a talk. If the first few rows did not fill up, we would move everyone forward. Not a hard job, and afterward I would get to listen to the presenters. I would not have listened to the first talk in the Sanctuary venue: True Crime-Crime in Context since it really is not my cup of tea or my genre, but since I was there, I thought I might as well listen. What an eye/ear-opening experience.
Why would another human being kill, stab, or hurt another person? What was going on in the killer’s mind to do such an act? I think as sentient beings, we want to understand the “why” so we can prevent the same thing happening again and again. It has obsessed people over the centuries with the “need to know everything”, and today’s society is no different. We need to understand the backstory. What is in the villains’ past that made it “ok” in their mind to lash out like this? It is this backstory, the culture that these incredible authors focused on. Listening to this talk gave me a lot to think about.
I also enjoyed two other presentations; one on Technology, and another on YA-Warrior Girls. While I enjoyed listening to the various authors, and they were all outstanding, they produced no fruit for my mind to feed on. Nothing like I gained from the talk I would have skipped attending altogether.
Had I gone to the Boston Book Festival and skipped volunteering, I would not have gone to the True Crime talk. Everything happens for a reason, and maybe I should go to church more often.
They are always looking for volunteers and donations. Please visit their website to learn more. https://bostonbookfest.org/donate/