Pathfinder Helen Kahn: Finding a Way to Reach Out to Insiders

Pathfinder is a series of blogs about intrepid library staff who are leading interesting programs that you may not yet know about.

Librarian Helen Kahn has been working to meet the needs of a large group of Insiders that used to attend West Valley's Insiders group before the pandemic.

Helen believes,

"The Library is a community resource for everyone! This includes people of different ages, backgrounds, and abilities."

I have known Helen for about 20+ years and I know that community service is at the top of her list in librarianship.

Helen's supervisor, Rebekah Gonzalez, is the manager of the Library's Disability Access Committee.  She has been very impressed that Helen was able to bring back the Insiders at West Valley Library.  She told me, "Helen really put in an effort to bring this group back into the library."

Let's learn more about what Helen's history working with Insiders!

Restarting West Valley's Insiders

It's a small world!

Coincidentally, Helen had the good fortune of knowing two Insiders who inspired her to search for the day group that used to come to the Library.  Her experience with her friends, TJ and Summer, made her a strong advocate for the Insiders Program.

She says, 

"I've had the good fortune to know TJ and Summer for much of their lives. They had/have muscular dystrophy. I wanted to present programs I thought would appeal to them (as adults) and their friends."

Helen works with a day program group as the core of her Insiders group.  There are 58 clients in this group and 17 staff members.

One of the most important characteristics of a specialty user program like Insiders is to meet the needs of the members.

Helen tries to "accommodate ideas from the group, along with my own ideas."  This has led to a successful collaboration between the Library and the day program members!

Let's find out about some of those wonderful programs that both Helen and the Insiders agreed upon as programs.

Activities at the West Valley Insiders

Here are some activities that Insiders appreciated:

  • Bubble Magic (making giant bubbles)
  • Crafts
  • Games
  • Movement

In the future, the Insiders will be making Halloween masks in October.

Helen says,

"I'm focusing on fun, interactive programs. I'm also doing programs featuring other adults with disabilities."

After a particularly fun activity, participants excitedly commented,

"We all like to have fun!  We also like seeing people who are much like us."

Helen is proud of her work with the Insiders.  She told me,

"We are all good at some things and not others. We all deserve to be treated with respect. In this, Insiders are no different than any other people."

Interested in learning more about Insiders?  Check out some of our outreach events, where we provide information about the Insiders Program!

Where to Learn More About Inclusive Events

Rebekah shared with me a couple of events that may be of interest to you!

"We have outreach tables reserved at both of these events and will have members of the Disability Access Committee handing out information to you!"

Let me know if you have any comments or questions in the comments section below!