By Liz Rog, Membership Services
This fall marked 20 years of service to the Co-op from Barb Dale. If fingers can get choked up as they type, that explains the sensation that mine are experiencing right now…
There are a number of people who have volunteered at the Co-op for that long and longer, and their service is no less appreciated than Barb’s. But there is something that is for me unique about Barb, and that is this: during all of these 20 years, Barb has sat next to ME for one to two hours each week, doing typing or data entry, stuffing envelopes, and much more.
We’ve seen some changes together. She was there when I got pregnant with Sophie; I was there when she learned that she would become a grandmother. She was there when we set sail for the last store location at 415 W. Water St.; I was there when she and Jim decided that they would retire right here in Decorah and bought a house to cinch it.
She was there when the Co-op got its first computer; I was there watching her with my jaw dropped, witnessing typing speed I had never before known was possible. And, she probably knows a lot about the behind-the-scenes of the Co-op, for better and for worse!
After Barb retired from working in the public school library, we Co-op staff tried numerous times to get her to apply for jobs at the Co-op. She would laugh so long and hard, and smile at us with a loving, pitying look: she must have thought we were insane. Why mess with a good thing? We had her for free, and she was free to come and go. But she stayed, and stayed….
In the last store Barb shared that teeny office with the whole staff. That meant that to get to the computer she often needed to wait in line until some bodies moved out of the way and she could squeeze her way through the mass and slip into her chair. When we moved to this new store, where the offices are so separated from the customers, I feared that the charm would be gone and we might lose Barb. But she stayed, and stays…
Barb never wavers from her dedication to the spirit and mission of the Co-op and her realistic and positive outlook. She’s got a job to do, and does it with joy and skill. In coming to help us year after year, she helps us in more ways than she knows. She types like a wizard, it’s true, and she is dependable and smart and funny and compassionate – but also, she is one of the important threads that hold the Co-op tapestry together, bringing the past and the present into the future. Barb reminds us of the community spirit that is our foundation –and our promise.