Each fall, the Nonprofit Leadership student Alliance organizes a community service project along with the Department of Political Science and Public Administration. This year, the group, along with faculty members, chose to volunteer with the Community Compassion Network. The event we volunteered at was in partnership with the Mobile Food Pantry and was held at the Sacred Heart School Gym. Our group, along with other community volunteers, aided in serving non-perishable food items to community members in aid.
This event was a great one to volunteer for. Many community members rely on the food donated by CCN to feed themselves and their families. When I arrived at 8am, there was already a line extending around the gym. While I was aware that there were people in need of basic items, and that Isabella county has a higher rate of impoverished people, it wasn’t until volunteering at this event that made it real for me. It was a very challenging event to volunteer for as it was difficult to see impoverished individuals before me and seem at a loss of how to help them, other than the food we were giving away. But it was also a rewarding experience. Community Compassion Network, and many other great nonprofits in the Isabella Country area, are all doing a great job of helping to aid individuals in need. I am glad I chose the field of woking in Nonprofit Administration, so that I can also be of help to someone someday.
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.
My involvement with the Student Environmental Alliance started last spring semester when I started to go to meetings with my friend Brennah. This year, when I don’t have any work conflicts, I attend the SEA meetings, and try to attend all of their events. Protecting the environment and educating myself on important environmental issues is something that is very central to me, and being apart of SEA allows me to do both of those things. SEA offers a variety of different experiences at their meetings. They show documentaries, have guest speakers come in, and discuss/plan upcoming events at their meetings. My favorite part about this group is that they don’t stop at advocating for environmental rights to the students, but they have held meetings several times with President Ross and other administrators to talk about issues, like CMU’s controversial investments, and the sale of plastic water bottles on campus. I am excited to continue to be a part of this organization, and am especially excited to see what is planned for Earth Week coming up in April!
Members of SEA participating in the Million Student March on Campus.
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.
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.
This reflection today is written over a blog of my choosing from Seth Godin’s website. I had never heard of him before, but his blogs are really quite interesting and insightful. The blog I decided to reflect over is titled, “‘Connect to’ vs. ‘Connect’.” This piece was about how it’s easy for companies/people/teachers to ‘connect to’ their clients/friends/students. He says this creates a “vertical connection” which creates a window for communication. Less common/simple is to ‘connect’ clients/friends/students which builds “horizontal relationships, person to person.” “It’s what makes a tribe,” he explains. He says that companies are scared to connect because they don’t want to have less control over what happens when the customers like one another more than they like the company. I was slightly confused at this point, when reading, because I felt that there was a lot to think about regarding the little bit that he wrote. But his last sentence really brought his idea together for me: “Of course, connecting is where the real emotions and change and impact happen.”
This entry reminded me of the Ted Talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” by Simon Sinek and my reflection on it. Sinek’s video was all about how if someone has a reason for why they do what they do, and make it known, they are more likely to be successful than someone who doesn’t know why they do something, but rather only know how or what they do. I thought these two pieces were similar because when Godin referred to the organizations who only “connected to,” it reminded me of when Sinek talked about companies who only know what they do and how they do it, but not why they do it. These vertical connections made by ‘connecting to’ are only the ‘what’ and ‘how’ part of the equation. When we dig deep down get to the ‘why’ part, that’s when the personal, horizontal connections start to happen and relationships start to form. Using an example from Sinek’s presentation, he said: “MLK gave the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, not the ‘I Have a Plan’ speech.” With that, we could say MLK didn’t ‘connect to’ his audience, but rather he ‘connected’ his audience, creating strong army of people all advocating for the same thing, with the same “why” in mind. Real emotions, change and impact all happened here all because MLK connected his audience because he knew why he was giving his speech that day.
These two post from Godin and Sinek I think really taught me a lot about what great things, and not so great things, can happen depending on how I portray myself and influence others. Godin’s post relates to things on a bit of a bigger scale than just me, but the concept is still applicable. We need to not be afraid to connect other people because, like Godin said, thats when the real emotion, change and impact start to happen. Making connections and building relationships with people is a big part of how we grow as people. Think of all the “horizontal connections” you’re missing out on because you’ve been confined to only making those “vertical connection.”
If you have never visited www.ted.com, I strongly urge you to check it out and become inspired. This “Ted Talk” reflection is based off of a video by Simon Sinek. In this video, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” Sinek explains the reason behind why extraordinary people can achieve the unthinkable and the differences between how they versus normal people think, act and communicate. He came up with what he called “the worlds simplest idea,” the Golden Circle.The Golden Circle Using the circle,he explains that every one on earth knows what they do, most people know how they do it, but very few people know why they do what they do. He explains that the average people or companies start with the clear answers on the outside of the circle to the unclear inside. Great leaders who inspire people, on the other hand, communicate from the inside out. He explains that this is how Apple excels in business compared to another computer company; they don’t just explain what products they have, but rather why they made these products, and this makes the buyer more interested in the product and more willing to buy. He also uses the Wright Brothers as an example. They succeeded in flying the first airplane because they were driven by the belief that they could change the world, not by a desire to become wealthy.
Next, he talks about the Law of Diffusion of Innovation (pictured left.) In our population there are innovators, early adaptors, early majority, late majority, and lagers. The first two groups are the ones who are more comfortable going off of their gut feeling. They are the people who do things for themselves, not for others. These are the people who attended MLK’s speech in the middle of August not for MLK, but for themselves.
This presentation really got me thinking. Throughout the video, Sinek kept repeating the phrase, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” He uses a lot of business and commercial examples, but this applies to our daily lives, too. This made me realize that if I don’t know why I’m doing something, I might as well not be doing it. I think everyone should all know their reasons why just so that we know why exactly we need to get through each day. Within my leadership cohort, we all made our own “why” statements regarding how we want to inspire others. Our statements are kind of like a motivation for why we do what we do: lead.
My why statement is Inspire others to always feel extraordinary and important in whatever they choose to do in life.
My “why” statement keeps me on my toes about how I interact with other people and how I might make them feel. I strongly believe that every one should feel important and special for at least one thing in their, and I have made it my goal to make everyone feel that way. Whether it be just saying hi to someone in the hallway, or engaging in deep conversation with a peer, I want to make sure everyone feels a since of belonging. My “why” definitely isn’t the same as Apple’s, or MLK’s, but it has the same concept. I know what I am doing, I know how I am doing it, and now, I have a reason why.
Hockey is a man’s sport– no time for feelings or emotions. Everyone involved in hockey is cocky and ignores feelings and only cares about the game.
That’s what we’re made to think about this sport, and while some aspects of that still may be slightly true, Detroit Red Wings coach, Mike Babcock, is speaking out and making change to raise awareness about mental health/illness and the negative stigmas that are attached by participating in Bell Let’s Talk Day. His main goal is simply to get people to realize that there’s nothing wrong with feeling low, but that they shouldn’t let that make them feel weak and like they can’t talk to anyone. For every tweet with the tag #BellLetsTalk on January 28, 5 cents will be donated to various mental health programs in Canada.
Babcock really inspires me as a leader in this. He has not only declared himself a great leader in the world of hockey, as the Wings head coach for quite some time now, but he is also declaring his leadership through this cause. The fact that he has seen how different types of mental sickness can effect individuals and families and the fact that he not only wants to change the way people think about mental illness, but that he is actually doing something to create change is really what makes him a leader to me. Not only that, but he is also going against the grain of what we all think of hockey players and coaches: that there is no time for playing with emotions or depression. That is what really makes him stick out to me. People will obviously be motivated to follow him and want to support this cause, for a couple reasons. 1, he is the head coach of the Red Wings, of course people are going to look up to him. This could also mean that people who might still associate negativity with mental illness might look at it differently if the head coach of a pro hockey team feels this way about it. 2, in his interview he makes note that everyone has problems, no matter how big or small, but if we think we can take care of them ourselves, we are wrong. Talking to people about our issues doesn’t make us a weaker person, but it really makes us stronger. Any person could relate to that and want to support that, even if they had no idea he was affiliated with the Wings.
I know that this whole #BellLetsTalk thing has affected me in a good way because it really is a good and necessary reminder to hear that everyone struggles with something and that it is okay to talk about it. I’m also really glad that money is being donated to mental illness programs so that people who really need the help can get it easier. I hope this awareness campaign has also positively influenced other people in the same way it has for me. The organization has raised $67.5 million for mental health over the years and I think that’s amazing. Hopefully someday, the stigma connected to mental illness will be completely gone, but until then, I am grateful there are campaigns such as these to promote the well-being of others.
In 2015, I want to achieve personal and professional growth. 2014 was a hard year for me in regards of adjusting to the college lifestyle, but now that I have better understanding of how things work, I want to really want to grow and discover who I truly am and what exactly my passions are. In addition to that I really just want to become more involved. My first semester, I found myself becoming a hermit, and I just really don’t want to continue with that type of lifestyle. I want to make stronger relationships and take every opportunity I can get, not just watch them go by like I did before.
This year, I need to surround myself with more positive people who are just as interested in getting involved and personal growth as I am. In order for that, I also need to gain the self-confidence to put myself out there more so I wont be a hermit anymore.
To be completely honest, I can’t come up with a good answer to what I want to share in 2015. I guess one thing I can come up with is sharing positive/welcoming vibes and emotions to others. Since I did struggle a lot my first semester, I know how good it felt when someone would ask me how my day was or compliment me. I want to make it my goal to spread that positivity to others because you never know what type of situation is going on in someone’s personal life.
I will succeed in doing all of the things I have previously stated, as well as just becoming a more positive, better and healthier me. I believe you cant be at your greatest potential if you don’t have a positive mindset towards everything you do, so that is my ultimate goal for 2015.
This quote by Dr. Seuss in Oh! The Places You’ll Go, although it may seem trite or childish, is really one of the quotes that keeps me motivated. It is by far my favorite quote of all time. It just reminds me that no matter what, I am the only person who controls what I do, feel and say. Basically, life is what I make it and I’m striving to make it better everyday.
To complete the LAS protocol, the members must take the required ‘leadership’ classes. This year, the required classes were PSYL 100, Intro to Psychology, and COM 267L, Intro to Debate. I was unable to take PSY 100L, so my only cohort class was debate. It was an interesting class to say the least. There were many mixed feelings on the professor, and the las in general. A lot of people really didn’t like him or the class, but I didn’t not enjoy it. I was a pretty good speaker in high school and spoke in front of the school a lot and even debated my high school speech teacher, so i wasn’t too worried about the course.
The course was pretty much all I expected it to be, with the exception that I thought I was in a philosophy class some of the time because all we really talked about rhetoric and morals and ethics and persuasion. But we still debated and it was a pretty straight forward class. In regards to leadership, I really feel that my leadership skills didn’t grow at all like I thought they were going to. I feel I am a better debtor, but other than that, I am the same leader i was yesterday.
I did enjoy the class though and am glad I “had” to take it.