By Dianna MacLeod
for Sno-Isle Libraries
Sno-Isle Libraries staff members up and down Whidbey Island counted a young man named Jordan Snow among their favorite, and most devoted, volunteers.
For the past 10 years, he rode the bus almost daily to one or another of the libraries in Island and Snohomish counties. He learned the first and last names of every library staffer. He drew intricate maps of his travels, inscribed with colored pens, in a journal. He made his passions—the Seattle Seahawks, “Star Wars” films—known. He customarily sported a Hawaiian shirt in the summer and a fedora in the winter. His love of sweets is legendary.
Jordan, who is autistic, began his service to the libraries in 2005 through a life transition program sponsored by the Oak Harbor School District. Although he began by shelving books on hold, he eventually joined library-sponsored book groups and Friends of the Library at each location.
But his regular visits to Sno-Isle’s libraries recently came to an end. At almost the same time he moved to Sedro Woolley, the bus from Skagit County discontinued service to Whidbey Island.
In farewell to Jordan, Whidbey Island library employees, friends, and volunteers offered their memories of him. Here is a small selection of those, along with observations on the value of volunteerism.
Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.~Elizabeth Andrew, politician
“I met Jordan when I started working at the Coupeville Library in 2007. I remember him telling me that he was only allowed to take Island Transit as far south as Coupeville and as far north as Deception Pass. Over time, his ‘territory’ widened and he was able to include visits to libraries throughout Sno-Isle, and eventually to King County and beyond—using only public transportation and his own two feet to get around. He also belonged to our branch’s Literature & Laughter book group. Throughout the years he has always come back to report on his adventures both far and near. His enthusiasm for the library will be sorely missed!” ~Leslie Bakker, Coupeville Library
“Jordan loved to use ‘Star Wars’ metaphors to describe his bus rides from one end of the Island to the other. His enthusiasm for Friends’ events, and for sports, always ruled his calendar. Jordan is thoughtful, jubilant and loving. He is glad to be alive and wants us to know it.” ~Jamie Whitaker, Langley Library.
The world is hugged by the faithful arms of volunteers. ~Terri Guillemets, anthologist
“Jordan followed us to Little Library on the Prairie during construction on the new Coupeville Library, and he was the first person to come through the door on the day of the grand opening in March 2010. He’s been a faithful Friend of the Coupeville Library, helping with book sales, attending meetings and participating in parades. When he greets the staff, he calls us ‘beautiful flowers,’ which makes us smile! Jordan is a special friend, and I wish him the best of luck in his new home.” ~Leslie Franzen, Coupeville Library
“Jordan always stopped in to say hello and let me know how many libraries he planned to visit that day. When I learned that he was spending a whole day visiting Whidbey libraries, I asked if he knew that the Island Church of Whidbey had a soup kitchen on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He followed up, and the next time I saw him he had added the soup kitchen to his regular traveling spots. The staff also enjoyed hearing about his summer adventures to libraries in other counties. Jordan was a hold shelf volunteer at Freeland and also volunteered for the Friends’ book sale. He came to Friends’ meetings and was a regular attendee at all of the movies shown at the Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Freeland libraries.” ~Betsy Arand, Freeland Library
It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference. ~Tom Brokaw, journalist
“When Jordan said, ‘Beautiful flowers’ to all the Coupeville staff, it brought to my mind a wonderful place of hibiscus flowers and turquoise Caribbean waters. Jordan, you are the only person who pronounced my name the way my mom intended it: ‘Larie’ (pronounced Law-ree), the Scottish way.” ~Laurie King, Coupeville Library
“Jordan really enjoys the connection and community that Sno-Isle offers, and made it his specialty to get acquainted with everybody along his route, and some of their vital statistics! He exemplifies our mission of being a gateway to resources and lifelong learning for everyone.” ~Cynthia Kaul, Langley Library
We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give. ~Winston Churchill, politician
“Jordan called us his ‘garden of beautiful flowers.’ I also remember him helping patrons who needed assistance with the bus schedule, because he knew it like the back of his hand. In that sense he was basically an honorary librarian.” ~Lindsey Anderson, Coupeville Library
“Jordan was always excited about his recordings of the various libraries in his journal. I remember his HUGE appetite at the Friends’ meetings and his telling of all the trips to Island libraries. I will miss him!” ~Kathy Pigott, Coupeville Library Friends
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back. ~Maya Angelou, author
“I’m impressed by Jordan’s in-depth journaling that details more than 80 libraries he has visited in Washington state, along with his skill at mastering bus schedules. He made a beautiful map illustrating a walk he took more than once from Penn Cove in Coupeville to Oak Harbor, a distance of nearly ten miles! The map is a work of art in its detail, colors and artistically penned letters. My favorite memory is Jordan’s good-natured singing with Coupeville Library’s first holiday Flash Mob last December. Fare thee well to a gentle man who I will greatly miss.” ~Kate Poss, Coupeville Library
Learn more about volunteering for Sno-Isle Libraries.