"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." Thich Nhat Hanh
I love my job. It was my tweet yesterday as I toured mega country star Paul Brandt around the shelter where I work. When we made the arrangements I had committed to keeping his presence low-key. He was there to shoot a segment for his upcoming series, Build it Forward.
A few weeks ago the show producer called to ask if one of their participants could come and do their volunteer work at the shelter. I quickly agreed and in the process, we also donated two refurbished laptops from our Computers for Low Income Calgarians program (CLIC). CLIC provides clients and low-income Calgarians computer technician hands-on training while also providing the opportunity for them to take the courseware to obtain their certification -- for free. Providing the laptops to Paul to take to an orphanage in Mexico was a great opportunity for our clients to participate in a 'bigger than where we're at' kind of initiative.
And, it brought Paul Brandt to the shelter!
So, there I was yesterday morning, greeting him in our driveway and leading him throughout the building.
But that notion of keeping it low-key? ha!
Do you know how fast a wild-fire can spread?
Do you know how fast someone can whip a cell-phone camera out of their pocket?
Can you spell 'lightning'?
Paul hadn't walked ten feet from his car when a young female client runs up to me, throws her arms around my shoulders and screams into my ear, "OMG, is that...?"
Paul walked up, extended his hand and introduced himself.
Cameras flashed, cellphones materialized and she was in seventh heaven. Not only did she get a photo, she got a hug too!
And that was just the beginning -- before we even entered the building. Just before going down to greet him I received a call from our medical office. "So... I hear you've got someone special coming today. I think he needs to see the medical office, don't you? You know he used to be a nurse." I laughed, thought about wildfires, and promised to bring him by.
It was all fun! All enjoyable and throughout it, Paul was gracious and kind. Sharing stories, learning people's names, shaking hands and giving people his smile and his time.
He spread a lot of joy!
One of my favourite moments had to have been while we were walking up the stairs from the second floor (DAY AREA) to the third floor (EMERGENCY SLEEPING). It's a big open staircase and as we climbed a client on the second floor saw Paul and yelled out -- "Don't take my bed!"
We all laughed and kept climbing.
It was a wonderful morning. Though, I hadn't planned on being part of the filming as well. My original plan had been to have one of the other director's do the interview, but, time constraints left us without the director we needed. I mean seriously, there I was, on camera, laughing and chatting with Paul Brandt in our CLIC lab and I didn't even have a chance to check my lipstick!
There was a lot of joy in the shelter yesterday. People were smiling and laughing. No one was too overtly country star googly eyed crazy. And whenever asked, Paul acted like he had all the time in the world to chat. He graciously responded to requests for photos. He shook hands and introduced himself spontaneously.
At one point, we stepped onto the Fourth Floor (Supported Living) and found four clients and a volunteer perusing photos on a laptop. They're part of the photography club and were critiquing each others photos.
Paul shared his song-writing memories -- I do the same thing when I'm writing. I get others to critique it with me. Gotta listen to other's feedback 'cause they always hear something different.
The photography club members were delighted, thrilled, excited to have the chance to talk art with him. And he appeared equally as pleased.
Colour me country. I am now an official Paul Brandt fan.