ClaraTee is CDF’s version of the word, clarity. Depending on your special path in this field, you may seek clarity of speech, clarity of language, clarity of hearing. Or you may strive for clarity in teaching, in learning, in research, or perhaps in administration. It’s a common thread all of us pursue. ClaraTee promises to live up to her symbolic name in the work she will soon begin.
Two Dolls Talking ....While the act of eavesdropping is generally considered to be impolite and improper, there are those occasions when it serves a worthwhile, informative purpose. This appears to be one of them. It happened at the Williamsburg DoubleTree on Thursday, March 22, right there at the CDF Silent and Live Auction just a few minutes before the festivities began. As I wandered around the tables, looking at all of the auction items on display, then counting the many gift baskets lined up on the edge of the stage, I heard that familiar whispered word that tends to grab one’s attention: “Pssst!” On seeing who uttered the word and to whom it was directed, I came to realize that I was about to observe an historic event, a once-in-a-lifetime happening that would never be known to others unless I, the witness, told someone else. Dutifully, therefore, I hereby describe for you what I saw and heard, to the best of my recollection.
The scene: Verbalina, the straw ambassadorial doll, relaxing on a chair next to the podium while awaiting her retirement ceremony; Verbalina, the CDF maven well-known for her coolness and savvy. And ClaraTee, the youthful, soon-to-be replacement, crouching on a shelf inside the podium, listening, wondering what was about to happen.
CT: Who’s that?
VB: It’s Verbalina, your predecessor, the one who paved the way for you in this scholarship-funding business. I know who you are. You’re ClaraTee, the new CDF doll being groomed to take my place. I’m here to wish you great success in your new role!
CT: Thanks a lot. I must admit that I’m nervous. The thought of stepping into your big shoes is daunting. You’ve done such a good job of attracting auction bids for your time and representation each year, every year, for fifteen years, raising over $3000 for CDF causes! I am in awe of what you’ve accomplished. And, quite frankly, downright scared. 2
VB: I understand your feelings completely, ClaraTee. Why? Because I felt the same way when Rita Purcell-Robertson introduced me to all those SHAV and CDF folks at my first auction back in 2003. But the butterflies in my stomach soon disappeared when I began to meet and network with my gracious hosts at Longwood University that first year. And, after that, well, you just wouldn’t believe how much fun I’ve had traveling around the commonwealth, visiting SLPs and audiologists, professors and students, joining them in their professional as well as recreational endeavors. It’s been a blast! I wouldn’t trade those years for anything!
CT: Wow!! That does sound like fun. Maybe this work won’t be as uncomfortable as I thought it might be. Even so, you do know that I’m much younger than you, Verbalina. Without your maturity and life experience, will I be able to meet others’ expectations of me? Will they trust me to do my job well?
VB: Of course, they will. In fact, it’s quite appropriate that, as I retire, a much younger emissary has been selected to take this position. As a key spokesperson for CDF scholarships and poster session awards, you represent youth serving the needs of youth! You represent fresh thinking, new ideas, and hope. Indeed, you are the face of the future, the future of our professions.
CT: Okay, I get it! But now you’re making me nervous again. That sounds like a heavy responsibility.
VB: Well, it is important. No doubt about it. But there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. You’ll be working with the most wonderful people in the world. They’re congenial, reassuring, helpful. They’ll hold your hand, pat your back, answer your questions, give you suggestions, validate your feelings, and give you encouragement. They’ll smile. They’ll tell you what a good job you’re doing. It is no coincidence that those individuals who will choose to become your caretakers and hosts are, by their very nature as well as their training, exactly the kind of individuals you need the most to guide you on this journey.
CT: Phew. What a relief! Now I feel better again. Actually, I’m really getting excited now, excited with anticipation. What you’re telling me is that these individuals will be my colleagues, my friends. How fortunate I am to have this opportunity to work and play and serve--all the while having fun and being supported. A dream job, to say the least. So I’m going to be okay, more than okay. But what about you, Verbalina? Where will you be spending your retirement days?
VB: Right back in the place where I started this odyssey: Longwood University. I have traveled full-circle with CDF, and I couldn’t be happier about spending my retirement with the great Longwood people who gave me my start. Like you, ClaraTee, I, too, am fortunate. Fortunate beyond words.
CT: Good for you, Verbalina. I’m so glad we had this conversation. It’s just what I needed to help me start my new job with a confident, positive attitude. I thank you for your wise words and for all of the excellent work you’ve done over the years.
VB: You’re welcome, ClaraTee. Good luck to you. I’ll be thinking of you in the days and years ahead.
And that’s the way it happened. A conversation for posterity.
Judy Rassi, reporter
Peggy Agee, archivist