When I was a freshman here at Central Michigan University I had to decide which LEAD Team I wanted to be apart of. There were so many to choose from and I had no idea which one I wanted to put my time and effort into as all of them intrigued me. Then I came across the Relay for Life Lead Team and I knew that was the one I wanted to be apart of because I helped organize countless Relay for Life events when I was in high school. My grandmother had also died from cancer two years prior so it made my decision even more worthwhile.
During the course of the year we planned events in order to donate money toward the Relay for Life fund. The event we organized was a scripted dinner that was a dinner but the people at the table were actually part of a scripted event. The dinner was a huge success! Then along came the Relay for Life event which we were planning all year long. There were quite a few teams there and every team had a countless number of people. So in the end the Relay for Life event was another huge success for the University.
I loved every second of being on the Relay for Life LEAD Team my freshman year that I decided to stay on that LEAD Team for my Sophomore year. Once again that year was a huge success for the University! I will never forget the time I spent planning for the event with the rest of the team and seeing what an impact it made on everyone in the community.
Ever since I was in National Honor Society in high school I always liked volunteering for local nonprofit organizations. As soon as I got to college nothing changed. From the first day of school till now I have volunteered for countless nonprofit organizations and continue to volunteer on a yearly basis. The places I volunteer for range from back home where I use to volunteer for with my high school basketball team to organizations right here in Mt. Pleasant. Every experience has taught me something that I will never regret. It has taught me to never take what I have in my life for granted and to always give back to those not as fortunate as I might be. A sense of well being always comes over me when I am volunteering to help better someone’s life.
Within the past year I have volunteered for multiple nonprofit organizations and one of those was the Port Sanilac Project Blessing. This organization I have been volunteering for ever since I was a freshman in high school. My high school basketball team and I would help deliver presents to families during Christmas time in the local community. Till this day, every year around Christmas time I go home and volunteer for the Port Sanilac Project Blessing. I love volunteering for them because it makes me feel happy to give back to the people in my community that I once grew up in.
Another nonprofit organization I have volunteered for within the past year was the Port Sanilac Parks and Recreation. This experience was for my summer internship, but it was still all volunteer work. My job was a head softball coach for 8U girls in Port Sanilac. Let me tell you it is an experience in itself trying to teach 8 year old girls how to play softball and dealing with the many mood swings of a young girl. With that said, I wouldn’t have changed my decision to coach those girls a million times over. That was probably the most exciting and life teaching moment in my entire life. I loved every second of teaching those girls how to play softball. Even though in the end we didn’t win a game, but like I told the girls it’s not about winning and losing, it’s about learning how to actually play the right way while also having fun doing it. By the time the end of the season came along, the girls showed so much improvement and were laughing and having fun together playing the game of softball.
I could go on and on about the places I have volunteered for, but I would rather not so the last nonprofit organization I volunteer for during this time of year every year since I was a freshman in college is the Mt.Pleasant Parks and Recreation. My job is a kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade basketball coach for both boys and girls combined. I love volunteering for Mt.Pleasant Parks and Recreation because I get to meet all the kids in the community and see what they like playing sports wise. This opportunity allows me to pass on the knowledge and skills that I was taught from all of my basketball coaches from when I was a kid about their age. Although I love volunteering for Mt.Pleasant Parks and Recreation it is sad to say that this year was my last year with them as next year I will be looking for graduate schools and doing interviews with them so I won’t have the time to volunteer with them in the spring semester for basketball.
When I was in my freshman year at Central my 2013 LAS cohort and I all went to Detroit to volunteer for a local nonprofit for the weekend. I loved the experience that I had so this year I decided I was going to be apart of the “LAS in the D” LEAD Team the the 2015-2016 academic school year. The LEAD Team is very small group made up of 4 to 5 students from each years cohort that are currently in their undergraduate degree at Central. It is overseen by our advisers Dan Gaken and Jesi Ekonen to help with any difficulties we may be faced with. The LEAD Team meets approximately once a month to discus fundraising for the trip and the trip criteria. The trip is scheduled to be in April and we will be staying in Detroit at the local CMU extension office in downtown.
Being apart of this LEAD Team allows me to organize and set up what the freshman LAS cohort will be doing on their trip to Detroit. It ranges from where they will be volunteering that day to where they will be eating and sleeping later that night. I wanted to be apart of this team because I wanted to plan the trip to Detroit for the freshman so that they had as great of an experience as I did when I went to Detroit. I also love volunteering to help better the community, so why not volunteer for a local nonprofit organization in Detroit!
It is hard to believe that it has almost been a year since I have been out of high school and one year in college. The first day of school felt like it was yesterday, but really it was nine months ago. During those nine months though I have changed a lot and have meet a lot of amazing new people. I have also involved myself in many different activities on campus. I have been a part of Global Medical/Dental Brigades, Intermural Sports, Relay for Life Lead Team, Basketball Coach for Mt.Pleasant Parks and Recreation as well as LAS. In our LDR 200 class we learned about different leadership theories and approaches throughout the year. There was one that stuck out to me though and that was Leadership and Culture. Coming from a small town I was never influenced by different cultures and ethnicities, but when I came to Central I was exposed to many different backgrounds. While being a leader it is important to be comfortable with different races.
The one element of our protocol that applies to the approach that stuck out to me was the service project we did for Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. It stuck out to me because I never worked with kids that came from a different background then me before. My town has about two hundred or so people in it and they are all the same race, so working with students from Detroit that have totally different backgrounds then where I come from really broadens my view of how Leadership and Culture are related. It doesn’t matter what a person’s race, color, or sex is they can be a leader no matter what if they put their mind and heart into what they believe.
I really enjoyed helping the Leadership Academy students learn more about leadership. I enjoyed watching the Jalen Rose students take charge in the activities and give their feed back in the debriefs we had for them. Also with coming up with their own definition of leadership and their own goals on what they wanted to learn from the initiative. It comes to show that everyone can be a leader if they are willing to listen and learn from different cultures and backgrounds.
After getting about two hours of sleep we were all up bright and early to go and volunteer for the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative. When we showed up to the first sight we were told this was where the LAS cohort from last year volunteered and that we would be heading somewhere else to volunteer this time. So we headed deeper into the heart of Detroit and when we got to the place where we were going to be volunteering it was a sight I was not use to seeing. Some houses were being torn apart, some looked like they were lit on fire, and others looked like no one had lived their for awhile. The house that we were going to work on though was under construction and being ripped down to its original structure.
Tyson, the guy that was the head of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, handed out jobs to my cohort. Some were told to pick up trash around the block, some were told to help inside the house, some were told to haul trash bags full of plaster to the side to the streets for mass pick up day on Tuesday, and others were told to burn the pieces of wood that were in the trash bags. I was one of the people who were given the job of cleaning up inside the house. When we got into the house we were told to put on white cloth suits, breathing masks, and eye protection so that we wouldn’t get hurt or breathe any dust particles. We were then told to go upstairs and pick up and separate the plaster, insulation, and wood pieces. The plaster and insulation were to be put in garbage bags and the wood pieces were to be put in plastic containers. After we got done with upstairs we hauled the materials downstairs and into the street were the other LAS students were putting the bags on the side of the streets and the wood in the fire. When we got outside though a police officer had shown up and asked were the supervisor was. Tyson came out and talked to the officer and after a couple of fire trucks and hazardous waste trucks later the whole situation was cleared and we got back to work. Tyson then told us we had to separate the garbage bags that were on the side of the streets into bigger sections and smaller piles. By the time we got done separating the bags it was time for a quick picture and then time to hit the road back to Mt. Pleasant.
This experience taught me a lot about who I am and how other people might have a harder time then me in life. I realized that people in Detroit jump to conclusions before they actually know what is going on because so much hatred and crime has happened that not very often a glimpse of light shows through the cracks in the sidewalks. I also learned that when leading a group there is plenty of factors that can contribute to a good or bad experience and in an instant things can go from good to bad and bad to good. Something that I am going to definitely take away from this service trip is that you can change a lot in only a few hours. You can clean a yard with mounds of trash and a house full of plaster and pieces of wood to a clean yard and house in a matter of hours. Just imagine what a group of people can do to a block in a week. Changing communities by helping them clean up will always be a inspiration to me.
The experience I received from this service trip was not only eye opening, but also a reminder that there are other people in this world that have it harder than me. I am so happy to have been able to share this experience with my LAS cohort because together we changed other peoples lives while also changing each others.
I never heard of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy before. I never knew what they taught their students or how their students school schedule worked, until now. I found out that the students go seven days a week for seven hours a day. I found out that their teachers and faculty don’t put up with horse play and are very strict in order to keep the school running smoothly. This year the faculty decided to create a PILOT program, almost like a honor roll class, for a certain amount of Juniors that showed excellence both in and out of the classroom and displayed leadership to the other people around them. We meet with the students of the PILOT program to teach them more about leadership and how they can teach it to others simply by creating an initiative that has a few activities, lays out what leadership means, and what each group wants to accomplish through experience. I was group yellow and we started off by playing an activity called the noodle game which gets the group to interact and learn the names of the people in the group. After that we were more familiar with each other, so we moved on to the next activity which was coming up with what leadership meant to the PILOT program students and what their goals were to get out of our time together. The last activity we did for the day as a group was called gutter ball. This activity was designed to help a group interact even more while also learning on how to build relationships and teamwork within a group. After the activity we said goodbye to the PILOT program students as they went with Jesi and Dan to learn about how they personally can do an initiative. After Jesi and Dan got done meeting with the students we got to talk with the co-principle of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and ask him some questions about how a typical day goes or how his journey to this position came true.
This experience to me was amazing. The co-principle was a Stanford graduate who could have went anywhere in the world he wanted to, but he decided to come to a city that has had a lot of hard times and build an academy from the ground up. He has put his heart and soul into this school and would do anything for the students of Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. He has worked so hard for the academy and it definitely shows. Everyone wasn’t on board at first, but after they noticed that it can be done and will be done they jumped on board and went along with it. What I am definitely going to take away this experience is that if you put your heart and soul into something you truly love, then nothing will ever stop you from reaching your ultimate goal in life.