Svetlana, Grisha and Debbie

August 7, 2011

2 years ago, when I went to Ukraine for the first time, I met Svetlana at Lydesian Orphanage, the institution for special needs orphans of all ages, and as soon as our van drove away after those first visits, I wanted to return.  Most of my life has been spent working with little children, but I had never worked with the special needs population before, and I was unprepared for my response to those residents:  an eagerness to soak in the spontaneous affection that they naturally poured onto all visitors.  I imagined somehow squirreling Svetlana away in my suitcase so that I could see her smile forever.  I pictured us walking the streets of Chestertown–she with her gorilla-like gait and me trying to match it, and I also could “see” Grisha’s eyes widen as I moved his bed from inside of our house to the outside, if somehow I could transport his bed from Lydesian to our little town on the eastern shore of MD in the United States.  But reality being what it is, that just didn’t seem possible.  I began to dream of begging the Ukrainian officials to let me camp out there in Lydesian for a couple of weeks sometime, thinking that maybe this would be nice.

Part of my dream came true a couple of weeks ago because I did get to go back to Lydesian.  It wasn’t for 2 weeks, but rather only for just under 2 hours, but again, I was surprised at my response.  I didn’t cry this time as we drove away.  I had seen Svetlana (and yes, she did seem to remember me, but as they say, I bet she smiles that way to all the gals) and I had talked to Grisha and to my other buddies and I met some new friends too but this time, things seemed different.  I saw kind, warm workers who genuinely seemed to be pleased to be there, and as Dan, our leader (and a pediatrician), said, “If they didn’t receive affection regularly, they wouldn’t know how to receive it from us.”  And he was right, of course.  I knew that was true.  So I thought, “They’re OK; they really are.”

I can’t remember if we were still in Ukraine, or on the plane coming back home, or just when the thought came to me that Debbie could come to our house and work here at the B&B for a few hours each week, but I knew that that was what I wanted to have happen.  I couldn’t have Svetlana or Grisha here, but Debbie lived in Chesertown–in the same house that I used to visit when I was in  high school, since she is the sister of Lynn, one of my best friends from high school!  (And it had only been about a month that had passed since Lynn had asked me that very thing!)  Of course!  A way to have a piece of Ukraine right here at home!  An opportunity to soak in Debbie’s smile 3 days / week!  So I called Lynn today, asking her if Debbie could work here on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 2 – 3 each of those days, and she said, “YES!”  She was thrilled and we are thrilled!  Debbie doesn’t yet know the news, but she will be thrilled too!  I told Lynn that I had a job title for her:  B&B Aide.  The job description will be fluid, since we’ll have to figure it out together, but I can hardly wait!

Be watching for our new “Staff” section on our website:  coming in the fall!  Because of Debbie’s hours, you may not get to actually see her here, but hopefully, you’ll see patches of that smile of her’s still stuck in nooks, crannies and corners, and you’ll somehow catch pieces of those patches during your stay.  Feel free to scoop it up to take it home with you.  Another hidden, hmm–just-can’t-put-my-finger-on-it amenity at Simply Bed & Bread.


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Location, Location, Location.

You might notice the WAC Administration Building cupola out of the corner of your eye as you walk onto Simply Bed & Bread's brick path, since our house is just a stone's throw away from the college. Or it might be the ...
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