Making a Small Difference in the Lives of Survivors of Domestic Violence by Sam Bryan, Bethany Kraft, Claire Lauder, & Tina Miller According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and DVRC websites, abuse is a repetitive pattern of behaviors … Continue reading
Kelsey Robertson was a student in my Enhancing Youth Literacy course and is a future educator. Read her post about how to be active in fighting educational inequity in big and small ways. Before class, I was aware of the … Continue reading
It’s a sad thing to say that the only reason I took to volunteering was because of a class I’m taking or because I had an agenda: more service hours looks like I am more conscious about the world around me on an application. But I feel like I’m not the only one who is feeling this; I am pretty sure that there are a lot of student volunteers out there who are only doing it because of a school-related requirement. And even though it’s a good thing that people are out there volunteering and helping, it’s also a little sad and disappointing knowing that after they’ve worked their hours that they’re going to be gone. Now, I’m not going to say that I promise to go back to James John Elementary and volunteer after this capstone is done but just even realizing that is so sad to me. I mean, this was a neighborhood and a school that I grew up in, I know these people, I know how awesome it felt having people to help me and work with me after school. And even though volunteering there now has been great and nostalgic for me, I am uncertain about my future availability to go back. And I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s so hard for people to go out in their community and help out: time.
Making Time for Community Work?
I understand that it’s hard when you have a full class schedule, work, a family to take care of, and other things, which would make it very difficult to find time to help out complete strangers. But what some people have to realize, and what I’ve realized, is that, even just the smallest amount of time you can devote, makes the biggest impact for some people. You might not impact everybody but the ones that you will, will be grateful whether they directly tell you or not. And if you’re worried about what kind of programs to volunteer for, you’d be surprised at all the different kinds of things that you can help with. From helping with students afterschool with homework and sports, with adults learning how to use computers, rock-climbing programs, etc., there are a lot of things that you can and will find interest in to help with.
Returning the Favor & Feeling Hopeful
For me, I would more likely aim towards volunteering in programs involving minority groups and language-related topics; such as, English-learning, reading, studying for the GED or with homework, and work-related things. I have no preference for working with children or with adults or a combination of both because, from my experience, these kinds of programs usually involves both, so I am used to seeing parent and child(ren) together. These programs appeal to me, not only because they seem to always need volunteers, but because I was in those situations: struggling with English, and reading and writing, which lead to struggling with communicating with my teachers and peers. I want to help because I’ve been there, and there was someone there to help me. So basically, I want to return the favor. Plus, I feel like it’s a good thing having someone there who has been through it all, who’s made it; it just gives a glimpse of hope for the person who is struggling.
I can’t go into specifics –what’s said in class, stays in class kind of thing– but one of the people in my community partner site told a story that’s really stuck with me. It wasn’t long a long story. It … Continue reading
I think that it’s easy for college students and professionals to lose their sense of community involvement when they are entrenched in the day-to-day grind of getting by and advancing in their career. Working, Learning, Sleeping: Is There Extra Time? … Continue reading
I am a huge supporter of volunteering at the Multnomah County Library. I originally started 2 years ago at the Friends of the Library Book Store in the central lobby. Although I realize the money raised from their store benefits … Continue reading
Today, my two small children decided that we should all walk to the library in rain boots. It took us an hour there and back on their short legs, but the trip and the library experience were both well worth … Continue reading
Note: In the next few days, I’ll be posting the action plans of three students who have given me permission to share their work here. These three students have all committed to expanding their roles as involved community members and will be experimenting bravely with the ways they become more deeply involved and invested. Read on (and for the next few days) for some excellent and practical ideas about how to keep the work going.
Our first action plan comes from Emily Jasperson, a future teacher who is finding ways to integrate community work into her daily life.
How easy it is to get all fired about social issues, like all the things we’ve discussed in class this summer, just to finish the final project and go about life as it was before. Why is this? This has happened to me a few times throughout my college career. First after taking ED 420 and learning about the ills of the education system, and second when I took a minorities class that detailed the struggles of various minority populations around the world now and in history. I became so frustrated and wanted so much for things to be different. It all comes down to a feeling of powerlessness because these issues are so huge. Although I personally cannot erase poverty and racial disparities, there are little things I can do to make a difference for people in my community. This is what I have learned this term while working with SUN at James John. I realized that there are so many programs out there like SUN, that really need extra help in the way of volunteers, and this is something I can do. My helping to stuff envelopes or to clean up a cluttered office space translates into more time that the staff of such organizations gets to spend actually helping people.
I have decided that I would like to continue my community involvement beyond the scope of this class. I am going to talk to Koali about continuing my service with SUN at James John into the school year to continue the relationships I have started with the children and staff. I feel that SUN does such great things and I really would like to be a part of the positive change they are creating for many families in Portland. I really like the resources they have for families outside of the programs at elementary schools, like health services and school-readiness programs, among many others. All of these things are set up to benefit children in the long run, which is something I am passionate about. Having worked with kids for quite some time now, I really appreciate the importance of a good education for them and would like to work to see it happen. I am grateful that through this Capstone experience I have been presented with so many ways to get involved and help make a change.
My plan for continuing community involvement is going to last for six months. This is about the amount of time I have left in school, which means I won’t be working very much, thus freeing up more of my time not spent in class. These six months will start in September, when school starts and SUN is back in session. Until then, I have the Oregon Zoo Urban Overnights trip with the James John SUN kids to look forward to and I am going to start looking for one-time volunteer opportunities through Hands On. This will give me a chance to get involved with other organizations not necessarily affiliated with schools or children, thus enriching my volunteer and community involvement experience. There are so many great things to help out with in Portland! In addition to this, I have chosen three steps from “Fitting Activism Into Your Daily Life”:
- Share Your Sources of Information with Others
I have already been doing this a bit since I started following PDXEAN on facebook and d2l. Through that, I have found Rethinking Schools and The Huffington Post education section which I have now also been following. I share articles with friends that I find to be particularly poignant or outrageous, or that deserve discussion. I have always felt that I didn’t know very much about current issues, especially those in education, and having access to these things has greatly widened my understanding of educational issues affecting our kids today. I will continue to follow these and share them with friends and family through facebook.
- Check Out or Join a Movement or Organization
This is something I have never done before, but have always wanted to. It has always seemed to me that I haven’t had time, or that I wouldn’t know where to look for organizations that I could possibly be a part of. Again, I am thankful for all this class has opened up to me! I joined Women for Change and Children First for Oregon, in hopes of staying current on education and general issues that are affecting children here in Oregon, and also to be able to find out ways I can physically help out in the effort. The sources of information I follow aren’t always about issues that are affect those in my own state, so this is a good way to keep informed about things I can really make a difference about and hopefully see results.
- Go Big and Go Small
I have never participated in something for a BIG cause, but I would like to. By paying attention to issues detailed through Women for Change and Children First for Oregon, I may be able to find some ways to help out or speak out on some big issues that affect the nation or the world, not just here in Portland. I did a bit of volunteering a few years back to get people my age to vote, and I don’t know how successful I personally was, but it felt good to be involved in something that was a lot bigger than myself and even my community. The small things I would like to do will most likely be found through volunteer opportunities on the Hands On website. I have looked at these for the past couple of weeks but haven’t done any of them yet. I like how they seem so simple but really can make a big difference for a neighborhood or organization. Some are as simple as pulling ivy or cleaning trails, and while this doesn’t seem like a big deal, it can mean that people enjoying nature can have a positive experience making them want to come back and ultimately help preserve our natural areas. Small things turn out to yield big benefits!
All of this sounds great on paper, but how am I going to actually commit to it? Since I will be accountable to the SUN staff at James John, it will be easy to stick with that commitment. Also, I would be spending so much time with the kids that I would feel I would be letting them down if I didn’t show up. Fortunately for me, right now my schedule is pretty open so I should be able to find time to do a lot in the community. Aside from SUN, I am going to look at the Hands On website each week to find an opportunity to help out in some way. I would also like to enlist the help of my friends as well for volunteer buddies! It’s a great way to hang out while also doing something positive for our neighbors. I would also like to start a volunteer journal to track my progress and record my experiences. I have heard that altruism is a great way to lead a fulfilling life and I think that writing about it will present the personal benefits of volunteering, which I don’t often think about. I don’t mind having my plan shared on PDXEAN, it may actually make me feel a bit more accountable to the words and thoughts I have written here. Also, periodic check-in emails would be great! It’s always nice to get a bit of reinforcement. I look forward to the next six months of community involvement, and will strive to continue volunteering far beyond that date.
Tyler Kennedy is a forward thinking, passionate community activist in the Summer 2012 Enhancing Youth Literacy class going and inspired a project to get PSU students even more involved in educating the public on issues that impact Portland Public Schools. Here is his action plan.
I feel very passionate about many things. Sustainability, education, poverty, energy, and more. I feel that we have the means to change the world if we only get organized. One way to help with both sustainability and poverty, as well as helping on a local level is to volunteer at the local food bank. I’ve done this already once before and I would like to do it again.
Additionally, I am very interested in the “sports buddies” program. I’m an avid Blazers and Timbers fan and would love to be able to help a child by playing or watching sports with them. I almost asked to exchange numbers with an UB student just to go play basketball with him, but didn’t, because I wasn’t sure how appropriate that would be. I would like to look into the sports buddies program a little more before I commit, however.
Also, I’d love to continue working with upward bound in the fall. I really enjoyed working with the kids on their math and I’d love to continue helping out in this way. I feel like if I can make even a small difference in any of their lives then it’s worth it, and as we’ve seen from the readings and information this term that one-on-one relationships can be great ways to achieve that.
I am going to give myself 3 months (I hope to only need 1, but life is unexpected) to find a new job. After I’ve found a new job I can begin working on my dream of designing card and board games. But while I’m chasing my dream, I’d like to keep volunteering.
Before the 3 months are up, I must continue to talk about issues of education and sustainability with my peers, coworkers, friends, and family. I need to direct people to the information that I’ve found and make sure that I encourage them to share it with others. Being informed is the best way to bring about change on a local or even national level.
Also while I’m looking for a new job I intend to become and stay more informed. I need to continue to grow my knowledge base when it comes to education and sustainability. I need to broaden my horizons when it comes to looking for and dispersing this information. In particular, I need to pay closer attention to local and state legislation and politics.
After my 3 months are up (or once I find a new job, whichever comes first) I will start volunteering regularly. I hope to fit in some spot moments prior to this deadline, however at the very least I must be regularly volunteering once I’ve gotten a new job. The top candidates for me in terms of volunteering are the Oregon Food Bank, Sports Buddies and Upward Bound. I feel that all three are examples of ways that I am able to connect with the community; simply doing what little bit I can to directly make someone’s life better that needs help.
I believe that these are achievable goals and that I can likely do even more once I get into a rhythm or a habit with these first steps. I’m a firm believer in the activist side of things though, and I would love to continue working to spread information and promote volunteering and activism in others.
The major barriers that I see to actually excetuing something like this is to fall into a weekly pattern that doesn’t fit volunteer or activism in. Finding a new job could take longer than anticipated. I am trying to chase my dream of producing games for a living and while I realize that this will take a large portion of my time I’ve accounted for that in my plan and have not proposed too lofty of goals for myself, however it would be easy to get caught up in my passion and not give or find time for these causes.
The solutions I feel are simple, however. My passion is what is fueling my drive to find a new job, to chase my dream, and yes, to volunteer. I know that I will do something in relation to sustainability or education awareness, and my real concern lies more with not doing enough. I believe though that I am more than capable of keeping myself on track and that once I start it will be easier and become more and more habitual. I wouldn’t mind you checking up on my progress however, especially given that I know myself and I tend to work better in all scenarios when I’m under a little bit of pressure.
Kyle Arntson has taken two education-based Capstones and has continued his love for working with youth (especially through sports and coaching) over the course of multiple terms…and is dedicated to infusing his post-college life with opportunities to volunteer his skills to support young people.
After taking two University Studies classes I have found that I love working with children, specifically helping them workout, staying fit and understanding the fun they can have while they do it. My first volunteer experience was with Parkrose High Schools Unified basketball team, and my second was working with the students in the Upward Bound Program, where I worked with incoming freshman on their writing skills. While helping with Upward Bound’s summer program I also worked with the students in their fitness class, where the students participated in a variety of physical activities such as yoga, basketball, workout videos and many more fun activities. While participating and observing the students in a physical fitness environment I couldn’t help but notice how close all the students became while working as teammates, and through pushing one another to try their best. I truly believe that children need good exercise, not only for their body’s physical fitness but also as a way to stimulate their brains. With school budgets taking continuous hits, Physical Education programs are seeing devastating blows which is affecting the children in multiple ways. My interest in future volunteer work is definitely to continue to work with kids through sports and fitness activities. I plan to sign up to become a Big Brother, specifically a Sports Buddy. I live in Clackamas County so I believe that is where I will look to dedicate my time with a young man.
I will be graduating tomorrow afternoon, which means I will have a huge work load off of my shoulders. I plan to register with the Sports Buddies program within the next month, giving myself a little time to catch up on the rest of my life and find a time that will best work for me to dedicate my time and energy to staying physically active with a young man. Aside from my time spent with the Big Brother Big Sister program, I have chosen three of “Fitting Activism into Your Daily Life” steps.
The first of the three that I have chosen is the Go Big & Go Small step. After looking at the possibilities available, I will be spending time with the “Reach Out and Read” program. This activity is located in Lake Oswego and will involve sorting donated children’s books by content and age appropriateness, once sorted they will be distributed to local Doctors offices. I plan to participate in this activity during their morning sessions, and as often as they need me until October, when I officially start my new job. At this point I will look to volunteer during the evening hours and the frequency will depend on my jobs work load. I hope to begin my participation with this program within a week or so from graduation. This task is easy enough and I know I will not want to spend all my time working on my garden and house.
The second “Fitting Activism into Your Daily Life” step I have chosen to participate in is to contact my local schools in Gladstone and ask how I can become involved with their local Libraries in the Love Your Library step. I actually live one block away from Gladstone’s Public Library, so I’m hoping that I can find an opportunity there. If the schools I contact have another idea for me I am more than willing to participate any way I can with what they might have in mind. I really enjoyed reading to my girlfriends 2nd graders last school year, and hope to have the chance to do something along those lines in one of my local libraries. My hope is that I can get involved in a Library program at the beginning of the school year, if there are not opportunities sooner than that as I will be contacting the schools and Libraries within the next week or so, again after I have a little time for myself after graduation.
The third “Fitting Activism into Your Daily Life” step I plan to participate in is the “Simply Connect” step. As I have said I love working with children in a sports and fitness atmosphere, so I plan on contacting Travis and Kesia at Parkrose High School, and stay involved with their Unified sports program. Travis had told me that he would enjoy coaching the basketball team this next year with me, and that there are many other sports they participate in that he needs someone to help him with. I plan to email Travis within the next few days to reestablish contact with him, and see what opportunities are available with him and the Parkrose High School. This participation during basketball consisted of one, two hour practice a week as well as two or more tournaments. I really hope that this option works out for me, because I had such a great experience in that program the last time I volunteered.
I believe in sticking to what I commit myself to, by signing up for volunteer positions I am going to hold myself accountable for each event or time frame that I commit to simply by giving the volunteer sites my word that I will be where I commit to being, while on time and full of energy. The barriers I see that could present themselves while volunteering is my new work load come October 1st of this year. I will be working as a salesman for Albina Fuel, and do not yet know how demanding my work load will be. However, I feel that with the sites I want to volunteer at there are afternoon and evening times available, which will give me great flexibility to work around my new carrier. A second barrier I see presenting itself would be the need to spend time around my house, taking care of the essentials while trying to begin new projects. After owning a my own home from three years now I understand that things can come up around a house that might require immediate attention, which might take up whole days at a time. I feel I can hurdle this possible barrier by balancing work, volunteer time, and house work to try and prevent any huge problems that could occur. I believe it will be easy enough to stay on track with my goals if I take the approach that they are part of a “job” that I will have committed to. Keeping a schedule as consistent as possible will be key factor in helping me manage my volunteer time, just like it would in all aspects of life.