This year, I have done most of my volunteering though the Isabella County Restoration House. This organization offered this really cool program during the cold winter months in partnership with the local churches in the Mount Pleasant community. What they offer is a rotating homeless shelter that rotates between the local churches each week. This serve relies solely on volunteers from each of these churches. There are volunteers for cooking breakfast each morning, cooking dinner, hangout time after dinner, and overnight monitoring. There are at least 2 people signed up for each volunteer shift. The rotating shelter, like I said, is heavily volutneer-dependant. For St. John’s, which has a smaller congregation made up of mostly retired individuals, I figured they could use the help. I sing in the church choir for St. John’s Episcopal Church, so I found out about the volunteer opportunity through their weekly e-news letter. Each time I volunteered I signed up for the overnight monitoring shift which runs from 11pm-6:30 am. I figured that since I am young and able-bodied I would be the best fit to work the overnight shift.
I loved each time I volunteered. The rewarding feeling of helping out a great cause definitely made up for the lack of sleep. the only downside to volunteering in the night was not being able to interact as much with the guests since they were all asleep. I did get to connect with a few of them though during my time. Hearing about the interesting lives of some of the guest was really cool and a good experience. For me, volunteer for the shelter really forced me to humanize all of the homeless individuals. It’s easy to feel bad for homeless individuals in general, but once I got to connect with one of them one-on-one, it really changed my perspective and opened my eyes to their situations. Each time I worked the shelter this year, we were either at, or close to our capacity for guests we could take in. While that is great because people are taking advantage of our service, it is also too bad that there are so many homeless people (and families with young children) that need to utilize our service.
My experience made me have a greater appreciation for our loving community and the efforts we are making to aid the homeless community. I will continue to help with the rotating shelter for as long as I am in Mount Pleasant. Without these programs and the volunteers involved in them, there would be no stable shelter for some of these individuals in the cold weather months. The rotating shelter, along with programs like People Helping People, are what makes Mount Pleasant a great place to live and provide awareness for community members of the huge, underestimated problem of homelessness in our own community.
This year, I am on the Grad Ball Lead team. Up to this point, our team has had many meetings in preparation for this event, which is actually coming up in just two short weeks. Organizing events is something that I love to do, so this was a great LEAD Team for me to be on. I am very excited to see how it will all turn out and celebrate the graduates of LAS 2012 Class!
The only girl I know who can wear crocs and still look cute.
I have enjoyed my time so much being a mentor to Faith, and I can’t wait until she also gets to be a mentor! I was pretty nervous at first because I didn’t know if Faith would like me, or if we would get along, but we do, and it’s great! While we don’t see each other nearly enough thanks to our busy and conflicting schedules, when we do see each other, we could talk for hours and not get sick of each other. We are there for one another when we need it and quickly resolve conflict whenever it arises. I am so thankful for Faith and the positivity that she has brought into my life.
As one of my RSO involvements for this year, I have taken the liberty of using my on campus job to count towards one of these. ( I have chosen to do this because between both my on campus and off campus job, my 19-credit hour work load, and volunteering at St. John’s, there isn’t much time for anything else!) Working at the CMU Music Building as a member of the event staff has been one of the most positive experiences in my career at CMU thus far. This job has taught me so much about putting together events, keeping composure at the face of chaos and learning to put others before myself. Not only do I get all of this professional development experience at the Event Staff, but the sense of community among not only the staff, but the entire music building is incredible. I can’t walk through the music building without stopping to talk to someone for a few minutes, or greeting one of the faculty, and I’m not even a music major! Being a member of the event staff here on campus is one of the places that I feel I truly belong. This semester, I am also training to be an Event Staff Coordinator (Student Manager) for the next school year. I am extremely excited to continue to learn about the work that I do, and to further build on this very welcoming and unique community that the music building offers.
Members of the staff at our annual “Event Staff Olympics”
The team after a failed attempt at a human pyramid.
This year, to meet our residential living requirement, I am living in Sweeney Hall with two other LASers and one other girl. I met Sam and Chelsea the first day I moved into Barnes last year, and we have been friends every since, and I met Sara shortly thereafter. Having friendly roommates this year makes a world of difference for me from last year when I had a rather unpleasant living experience in Barnes. Being friends with my roommates and having a shared respect for each other is something I have really enjoyed about this year. While I’m excited to move out of the dorms, I will definitely miss living with these girls next year.
To fulfill my volunteer work throughout the semester, I spend much of my time at St. Johns Episcopal church in Mt. Pleasant singing in the church choir. While the majority of the choir is made up of paid music students from CMU, the rest of us are volunteer who love to sing and love going to St. John’s. We rehears every Thursday evening and attend the service every Sunday morning. Throughout each semester, I average about 48 hours of service at St. John’s, and that’s not including the extra rehearsals and performances for additional services, like for Holy Week and funerals, etc. My favorite part about St. John’s (aside form the making of beautiful music) is the extremely inclusive and welcoming environment that this church fosters. I have never felt so well received by a congregation before my time at St. John’s and am very proud to be a member of the church choir.
My ideas about being a mentor didn’t really change after out mentor workshop in LDR 200. I’ve had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to be as a mentor since I’ve had my mentor. I plan to be the best mentor I can be to whoever I get as my mentee.
I most look forward to being a friend to my mentee and being there for her whenever she needs someone. I personally didn’t have a particularly strong relationship with my mentor, so I hope to become close with my mentee and help her transition into college life.
To be the most effective mentor I can be, I am going to make sure I keep in contact with my mentee as much as possible. I think the key for having a strong relationship is good an constant communication, so I hope to keep in contact with my mentee as much as possible throughout the summer and especially at the beginning of the next semester.
In the beginning of the year, I was definitely shy and I feel like I missed out on many opportunities because of that. But, starting second semester, I have come out of my shell and have grown as a person, and a leader.
Looking back at the post I made about my new year resolutions in January, I said that I wanted to become less of a hermit and take every opportunity that came my way, and I feel that I have done just that. I still have the need to get more involved, and hold a leadership position on campus, but compared to where I was only a few months ago, I have made definite progress toward my goal.
In that post, I also said that I needed to surround myself with more positive people who could help me become more involved, and just a better person in general. I said that in order to do this, I need to gain the self confidence in order to put myself out there to meet new people. Over this past semester, I really did gain a lot of confidence. I remember the one night in January that I told myself I was going to go downstairs, go into someones room, and start talking, and hopefully become better friends. I was so nervous, but because I jumped out of my comfort zone that night, I made friends that I still have today. I’m so thankful that I made that leap that one night in January because I got what I needed: positive people to help me sucseed. Since then, I have gotten to know a lot more people and jumped out of my comfort zone even further.
In January, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to share in 2015, and to be honest, I’m really still not sure. But, I did say that I wanted to give off positive and welcoming vibes since I knew how good it felt when other people welcomed me. I really have made an effort to always do that, and compliment people or ask how their day is going. I guess a new goal I have though, would be to give my time as much as possible. After going on our LAS service trip to Detroit, I realized just how important it is to volunteer and be a servant leader. I plan to volunteer a lot of my time over the summer at my church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, and around my own community.
I stated that my ultimate goal for 2015 was simply to have a positive attitude and become a better me. I feel like I have accomplished that thus far in the year. I believe that having a good attitude and outlook is the most important part of accomplishing anything.
I incorporated my favorite quote in my January post, and it is still relevant today (and will be forever):
I still use this quote to motivate myself, and I think of it whenever I want to accomplish anything. I am the one in charge of my own life, so I can dictate the outcome.
For our Leadership 200L course, we participated in a Lead Chat on twitter that discussed our thoughts on being a mentor/having a mentee.
Q1: What qualities do you look for in a mentor? #LeadChat
A mentor should be someone who is uplifting and who inspires you/pushes you to be the best person you can be. In addition to that, I feel that a mentor should also be a friend and someone that you can casually talk to or hangout with. Really a mentor can be anyone and have a multitude of different qualities, but I feel that most importantly, they need to be someone you can look up to and who can push you to be better.
Q2: What are your expectations of your mentee? #LeadChat
I don’t necessarily have high expectations for my mentee. I would be happy with any mentee, because I would try to be the best mentor to them no matter what. I do hope that my mentee has goals that I can help them accomplish, and I really hope that they like coffee so we can go get coffee together. But, all in all, it doesn’t matter who my mentee is.
Q3: What is the difference between a mentor and a role model? #LeadChat
I feel like mentors and role models are one in the same. One of the main differences might be that role models are someone you look up to, but they may be famous or dead, but mentors are also someone you look up to, but you can still have a relationship with them. Mentors also help a long the way with different issues that life brings, but role models can’t necessarily do that.
Q4: What communication tools work best with a mentor/mentee relationship? #LeadChat
For my mentor/mentee relationship, I feel that social media plays a big role in communication thus far. Whenever my mentor and I talk, it’s always via texting, and I’m sure it will be like that with my mentee, too, at least in the beginning.
Q5: Who do you look to as a mentor? How have they had an impact on you? #LeadChat
My brother is honestly one of my biggest mentors. He helps me so much with any issues I have and he is almost always available for me to talk to him. I definitely look up to him because he has become very successful in his time at CMU and is very independent and self confident. I really hope to become as confident as he is someday, and as good as a mentor. I’m not even sure he would consider himself a mentor to me, but I definitely look up to him, and he always pushes me to do better.
We packed up for the weekend after weeks of preparation, got on a big bus and went on
our way to Detroit for the weekend. The weekend would be packed full of service, learning, and FUN. My Leader Advancement Scholar Cohort and I were so excited to go to Detroit and serve the community. When we got to Detroit, our first stop was at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA). There, we facilitated different leadership activities and taught the students how to facilitate in the future. Next, we toured the Lowe Campbell Ewald building and the Ford Field Stadium. After that, we went to a local pizza joint and ate some delicious food. Then, we went to the Detroit Institute of Arts to browse artwork for a while, and our final stop for the night was the CMU office located in downtown Detroit. So, yes, that means all 50 of us had to sleep there, on the floor of the office. But hey, at least it was carpeted! We got up early the next morning and drove a few minutes to the Motor City Bight Busters headquarters. After we got a brief history of the group, we helped them out by spreading large piles of mulch around a field, in preparation of what would later be a farming field. After that, we were on our way home.
The most eye opening part of the trip for me was the huge dynamic change in the different parts of Detroit we were in. When we were in JRLA, the power went out twice. This is an actual school we were in, and in my experience, unless there was a big storm or catastrophe, the power never went out in my school. This was surprising to me and the rest of my cohort, not only because it happened while we were there, but that the students said the power goes out at least once a week at their school. That blew my mind! A school so tight on money that supplying the whole school with electricity was so hard. Later on during the day, though, we visited Lowe Campbell Ewald, and boy was that a dynamic change from JRLA. The building was just elaborately and magnificently designed. I don’t remember the exact digits, but the amount of money that went into building and supplying that building with electricity everyday was absolutely astounding. Thousands a day. Also, the amount of money that went into building Ford Field and the amount that people are willing to spend to get a good seat for a game was also mind blowing.
Honestly, this really irked and upset me. The people in Lowe Campbell Ewald are just rolling in money, spending nearly as much as my college tuition a day on running their building, and the students of JLRA (not even 20 miles apart) can’t go a week of school
without a power outage. There is absolutely no doubt that there is something wrong in this picture. I guess this part just really changed my perspective on a lot of things. As a society, we are so materialistic and put so much focus on monetary value that we are just oblivious to the fact that some people in the same county as us are struggling for something guaranteed for us: electricity.
The founder of the Motor City Blight Busters really stood out to me as a leader during this trip. He told us the story of how he was trying to raise his family in a bad part of Detroit. One day, he got sick of it and did something. He started making the neighborhood a better, friendlier place. He didn’t stop there though, because now, the Blight Busters reach out to many areas of Detroit with the help of a wide variety of volunteers. The organization strives to turn Detroit around, and make living environments available more suitable. I think this is a perfect example of Servant Leadership. The Blight Busters founder really works hard for his organization and puts in the work necessary to get jobs done, all while organizing volunteers to come and help out.
After this trip, my outlook on Detroit has changed a little. I guess now, I am just more aware of how things actually are in Detroit, but I do know that there is hope, and things are definitely getting better in that City. With the Motor City Blight Busters creating farmland and cleaning up houses, and the promising students of JRLA learning about leadership and thinking about college, I know that Detroit is already improving. Soon, I hope that Detroit wont be associated with the word “ghetto” and that people will think highly of the city.
The most important thing this trip has taught me is really how important service work is. Like I said, I have done volunteer work before, but my experience was limited to making blankets, or packing lunches for students. I have never really gone out of my own city to do any type of service work, and I am so glad that I got this experience. Even though what we did (shoveling piles of mulch) may have seemed like a small effort, I don’t think many of my cohort members realized what a big difference that made for the Blight Busters. A little really can go a long way with volunteer work. After this trip, I plan to increase the amount of service work I do, and to take up any opportunity to serve my community. I am also so much more aware of the situation in Detroit. After seeing the completely different environments between JLRA and the Lowe Campbell Ewald building, it just made me realize how much monetary things aren’t necessary, contrary to what we are programmed to think. I really don’t want to live my life measuring my life’s success on the amount of money I make, when there are so many people who would love to have half of what I have already. This trip just really opened my eyes to the things that really matter, and I really think that I will have a different outlook on life afterward. I am so grateful that I got to go on this trip because it opened my eyes so much, and I got to spend a great time and build so many memories with the people I love.