“I always get more than I give in these [volunteer] situations,” states Mary Lou McCord, an enthusiastic volunteer at COTS. Mary Lou spent a good portion of her adult life working as a social worker for the Department of Corrections. Before bringing her vast wealth of knowledge to the COTS community, she was a volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul, where she got to know and become good friends with Andrew Wilson, who was serving as the organization’s Director at the time. Andrew introduced Mary Lou to COTS after taking on the role as COTS’ current Executive Director.
Learning “how to live with crisis”
Mary Lou recently taught a rational behavior class to a few residents in our Men’s Program. The class originated from a book called Help Yourself to Happiness written by Maxie Maultsby. During her time as a social worker, Mary Lou actually took the class herself, as she needed to “learn how to live with crisis.” She knows from firsthand experience that the class “works” and has been teaching it to various groups for the past twenty years or so.
Each week when the class was held at COTS, Mary Lou would strive to teach residents that “any situation that happens to you, you can decide how upset or angry you’re going to be.” As spoken by Maxie Maultsby, whose writings inspired the class, the rational behavior class focuses on “helping people solve their own emotional problems using their ability to think.”
Residents at COTS are “amazingly intelligent”
Throughout the course of the class, Mary Lou noticed that the residents who were participating did indeed start looking at things differently; she was surprised to discover how “amazingly intelligent” the men at COTS are. In fact, the most important lesson that Mary Lou took away from her time teaching the class was that“being intelligent does not keep you from becoming homeless. [Homeless individuals] struggle with the same things that the rest of us struggle with.”
Mary Lou continues to spend time at COTS and plans to teach the class again in the near future. She encourages others in the community to get involved as well: “[COTS is] a good place to volunteer. I’m always glad to come…and get treated like a queen.”