Life as a Volunteer

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.

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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.

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Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Going into my sophomore year at Central I was starting to get the feel of college and what it all requires, but I felt like I was missing something still but I had no clue what that was. So one day in our philosophy class David Walter asked me what I was doing later that night. I proceeded to say I wasn’t doing anything, so he asked me if I wanted to go to an event. I thought about it for a minute or two and told him yeah why not. So later that night David came down to my room to come get me and we walked down to Main St. and I asked where we were going and he said you will see in a little bit. We kept walking down Main St. and after a block we came to the door of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) house. They were having a recruitment event that night and I didn’t quite know how to fell about what I might have gotten myself into, but I went in a talked with a few of the guys there and they all made me feel like I belonged there and talked about the most random things. Once I got back my dorm I was very interested in joining SAE.

The next day I messaged the president of the fraternity asking about joining and he said that would be great and he would set up a meeting later that weekend. So before I knew it I was the new member of the Michigan Delta Omega Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. I never really thought of myself as joining a fraternity, but if I could go back I wouldn’t have changed it. Their morals are the exact morals I strive to live by every single day of my life. Our creed is something I have come to try and perfect in myself. Particularly whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own and who appears will in any company. For the last two years SAE has been a real life opening experience. I have meet guys that will become lifelong friends that I also get to call my brothers.

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This past year has probably been the biggest up and down for me in the fraternity. We won the softball championship for softball, but lost in the first round of playoffs in flag football even though we were the number one seed. I had to say goodbye to the guys I hang out with the most in the fraternity due to them going alum. The hardest part about this past year is seeing my big, Jeremy Herman who I have come to be great friends with and actually feels like an older brother to me, go alum because he graduated from college. We have recruited two of the biggest classes SAE MI-DO has ever seen. With all of these experiences that has changed my life forever it is time to turn the next page and go alum at the end of the Spring 2016 semester.

Pre-Physical Therapy Club

When I first got to Central I had an idea of what I wanted to do for my career, but I didn’t know anyone or who I was suppose to visit with for more information on what I wanted to do, then Mainstage happened. I found what I had been looking for along that would point me in the right direction. The registered student organization (RSO) that I came into contact with was Central’s Pre-Physical Therapy Club.

The Pre-Physical Therapy Club is dedicated to informing and bringing together students interested in the field of Physical Therapy. Students range in ages, grades, and majors. Meetings provide insight to the graduate school application process, specialties in the field of physical therapy, assistance with undergrad major decisions and course work, along with interactions with physical therapists and graduate school faculty. Events are held during each semester, including socials, fund-raisers, and volunteer events. The club meets every other Tuesday at 8:00 PM in Pearce Hall 135. Dues are $20 per year.

Ever since I dislocated my elbow in 5th grade and had to go through physical rehab to help heal my arm I have always wanted to be a physical therapist. It took a while to actually see results, but once I could tell where I started and where I ended knew I wanted to do that because I wanted to help people get back to 85 to 90% of their previous strength. If I never ended up going to physical therapy I would have lost all movement in my elbow and would have never been able to fully extend my elbow again. I don’t want to see someone that has been hurt loss all mobility, so that is why I have chosen the career path I am still currently pursuing and also why I have decided to stick with the Pre-Physical Therapy Club since my freshman year of college.

 

Michigan Urban Farming Initiative

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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.

Jalen Rose Leadership Academy

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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.

Connections Conference Reflection

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The Connections Leadership Conference was an opportunity for students to come together to exchange ideas to further advance their organizations, strengthen their leadership ability, and foster networking opportunities. It consisted of insightful speakers, stimulating roundtables, and dynamic workshops that I got to share with other people that desire to create a better world as much as I do. Another great thing about the Connections Conference was that it was the weekend of my birthday, so I got to spend my birthday with my LAS friends at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City.

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First of we arrived at 10:45 on November 9th and dropped our bags off and went to the conference room where we ate lunch. Then at 1:00 we attended our first Institute Session where we were split up into groups of two and were asked to learn more about your partner. At 2:30 and 3:30 we attended our first two Educational Sessions. The two sessions I picked was Accelerating to Your Dreams, which was about understanding how to apply knowledge to make the right decisions, how to get the right people/network on your team, and how to align your own values, and Situational Leadership Through the Eyes of Disney, which gave people the chance to reflect on some of your favorite childhood heroes and their leadership qualities. After the first day was over it was time to relax and play in the waterpark. When the second day came around we attended two more Educational Sessions and ended the day with another Institute Session that helped us as a LAS cohort become more connected.

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What I learned form the Leadership Connections will always be with me. It is going to help me improve my leadership skills here on campus and in the outside world. It will allow me to use the skills I learned to help better the people around me. I am going to refer the Connections Conference to anyone and everyone that is able to attend.

Mentor/mentee Retreat Reflection

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Being a Leader Advancement Scholar definitely has its benefits. Having a weekend planned out, so that a mentor and their mentee can get to know each other more definitely has its advantages. Eagle Village has so many experiences to offer for a mentor and mentee to become closer, such as ropes coarse and a giant ladder. They require a mentor and mentee to work together and rely on each other when one or the other has a disability they have to compensate for.

I learned more about being a leader and how a leader deals with struggles that one has to deal with. Being able to work well with others allows a leader to become more social. It allows them to interact and communicate with the community around them.

Being able to be more socially active on campus allows me to meet new people and build relationships with other organizations. Learning more about leadership helps with being able to lead a group and organize the problems that need to be dealt with. Eagle Village taught me how to become a leader on and off campus.