Monthly Archives

November 2011

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A New Path

“A job is way to make money. A calling is a way of life. A calling consists of meaningful work that reflects who we are and not just what we do. Before we go out into the world to do our work, we need to turn inward and discover what that work might be. It is inside where we begin to make meaning in our lives. It is inside where we meet our deepest longings, our unique gifts, and our truest self. It is inside where we find the twin gifts of purpose and passion that become the core of our working lives. “by Jason E. Smith, M.A.

BUSN200 will provide you with an opportunity and a calling to service. As you go on to decide where you want to get involved with your service, it is important to stop everything and think about what your unique gifts are. You are the one who knows your truest self, and therefore the passion for service will come from the inside and will be somewhere where your unique gifts are of best service.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Try to explore new paths—somewhere you are not familiar with. Experience diversity and new activities; choose the path less traveled for that is the path where you are most likely to leave a trail.

I personally have experience serving in the United States and also in my home country of Honduras. It has been interesting to see the differences and how I have impacted the lives of the people I have helped.  Honduras is a very poor country that is in the need of more volunteers to help the community.

I visited a small town in a very rural area to serve as a volunteer for a school that Americans founded. I had to translate English-Spanish as some of the owners and donators were visiting the school. I still remember this little girl who took me to her house. Her house was about the size of my office here in the BUSN200 center. She told me she had 4 siblings and her mother was expecting another kid. She also lived with her biggest brother and his wife. She told me how all her siblings were from different fathers. As she went along, she told me she never got to meet her Dad because he was shot when he was young. I could feel how she just needed someone to talk to; she told me she wanted to go to my city and live with me because she wanted to dedicate herself just to school, but she had to help her mother sell food in order to sustain her family.

Whenever we experience service and try to get involved with people we never thought we would, it makes you reflect on the state of your own life. There is nothing better than establishing relationships and getting to know others, as we never know what story every person has to share.

By:  Maria Fernanda Robelo, BUSN200 Facilitator

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Perspective Changed

My time and service spent at TSE, Inc. has given me an opportunity to learn more about myself in many ways. It has ultimately changed my perspective on the demographic of the people I served, my thoughts on service and volunteering, and also has changed my point of view on community and business involvement with people in need.

My service at TSE, Inc. consisted of working with individuals that are moderate to severely mentally disabled. TSE, Inc. provides opportunities for mentally disabled individuals to work either offsite with companies in the community or work onsite at one of their locations. The individuals that are typically onsite at a TSE location are usually more severely handicapped and need attention and care that most businesses cannot provide. The individuals I worked with needed this additional care, as many of them have the mental capacity of very young children and needed our help to prepare meals and use the restroom. While these individuals need additional care, they still are able to be productive and earn minimal wages doing various tasks such as ripping up expired lottery tickets, stuffing envelopes, and making cards and stepping stones to sell. Besides work programs, there is also an element of helping these people learn and grow in a supportive environment where the staff communicates with doctors and care providers to create a plan to improve their quality of life.

My involvement at my service site consisted of working with a group of individuals accomplish their work goals for the day while providing support for the full time staff. Many of the jobs that are contracted for onsite work have deadlines and specific instructions, so I helped the individuals and staff complete these tasks. My service was truly needed when the individuals needed one-on-one care with the staff. When one of the people needed help or special care, the other individuals would often act out or become unruly if given the chance. It was a great help for the staff for me to be able to handle situations that could lead to food fights, wrestling matches, and foul language. These situations also were the most challenging for me, as at first I was not very comfortable with this demographic of people. As they are grown adults in size, it can be intimidating when they become unruly, as sometimes the only way they can communicate is through actions, which can lead to violent episodes.

Other activities included going on outings to local parks, gyms and stores. We would head to parks on nice days to have a picnic lunch and play games outside. When the weather wasn’t cooperating, we would head to a community center to play in the gym. These were some of the greatest times. It was fun to see someone score a basket while playing basketball, or hit a whiffle ball on a softball field. When we would go to a store, we usually were trying to accomplish a goal for one of the persons served. A goal may be for the person to spend a dollar on anything they want. This activity gets them involved with others in the community and allows them to interact with others. Also, they are using money they earned, so there is a sense of accomplishment that is achieved.

During my time at TSE, I learned a great deal about myself. First, I learned how to care more deeply about others that truly need help. Many of the individuals came from institutions many years ago, and they never had caring people in their lives to help them improve their quality of life. Secondly, I learned to free myself of stereotypes that I previously had regarding this demographic. I realized that the people I served can learn and can be funny, creative and smart in their own way. I also learned that I can be a better person in the community and volunteering is so much more that just signing up and showing up. Overall, I learned that in a small amount of time, I can add value to a person’s life that truly needs it. I used my management experience to help create structure in an environment where sometimes chaos reigns. It is amazing how my experience in the business world can translate into being an effective volunteer for disabled adults.

Currently, I am the General Manager at a small office furniture firm that I helped create almost 2 years ago. My position at this company thankfully allowed me the opportunity to spend three Fridays a month during June and July at TSE. This time has allowed me to grow professionally in a few different ways. I have a new sense of patience when dealing with employees and clients. After my service, I would be at work and the chaos created by having multiple projects at hand seemed less frantic. Also, I have started to work with a few nonprofits as clients, and I have been less worried about my profit margin. While I am in the business to make money, I also realize that certain organizations have larger priorities than budgeting all of their money for furniture. At TSE, it is evident that most of their money is spent on retaining key employees and developing programs to help their clients. My company has since donated furniture to nonprofits to help them where we can. Lastly, I am aware that these individuals can play an active role in a public or private company. As my company grows, I will be looking for opportunities to include a service like TSE where we can provide a working environment for people with disabilities.

By: Carl Spande, BUSN200 student

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It Only Takes 1

I have been fortunate enough to be able to experience many different types of service during my three years at St. Thomas. The organizations that I have been a part of include the Tutor Mentor program, serving at Salvation Army and the Students Today Leaders Forever spring break trip down to Dallas.

Some of the most memorable service work I have participated in was through the Tutor Mentor program. I was fortunate to complete Tutor Mentor as a freshman—I was able to realize service was something I would enjoy doing for years to come. I started participating in this program as a requirement for a Theology course I was taking, but ended up gaining great friendships and an appreciation for others through this service.

I completed Tutor Mentor at an elementary school in St. Paul; I was placed in gym class for most of the day and tutoring in a class room for the rest of the day. At first I was not sure how much I could impact these students during gym class, but it ended up not being about what I taught them, but what they taught me. They taught me to appreciate the small things in life and that something that may be stressing me out at the time is nothing compared to what others may be going through. Coming back each week and having students remember my name and run up excited to see me made it worth it in itself!

One specific moment that will never leave my memory occurred when the students were asking me millions of questions (they especially liked the awkward, uncomfortable questions), a students asked me, “Which parent do you live with? Your mom or your dad?” At first I didn’t know how to react and had to rethink the question being asked; she seemed so confident that it was one way or the other. This touched me in a way that no service experience had before.

Working with kids through service was a fun way to be able to teach others something that they may not have known before. It felt good to be able to educate them and be able to teach them how to solve homework problems or shoot a lay-up in basketball. That one students’ question made me take a step back and really question where my priorities were in life and how much being there just during “gym time” was meaning to them. It made me appreciate the family environment I have at home more and all the people that are there for me in my life.

Beyond the question asked, I realized how much they appreciate and need the relationship that I had built with them. Some days it was easy to think of other things I would rather be doing than go to the school, but once I was there I remembered why I enjoyed it so much when they would be so excited to see me. Most of the students may not have anyone to share their feelings with at home or someone to ask all their curious and awkward questions to.

I realized there is much more out there beyond the classroom at St. Thomas campus and you gain a great deal of experience and knowledge through service that would be impossible to teach in a classroom. It would be hard to teach students how to deal with uncomfortable questions or to teach them life lesson that you know. It was a great experience and has since changed the way I live and view each day. There is much more out there than just getting stressed about school work or finding a job. I will always remember how much excitement they would get every day when they had finally made it to gym time where they were able to release all of their energy. The smallest things, for example snack time or making a goal in soccer would make their day and all their previous worries were gone.

By Andrea Paetznick, BUSN200 Facilitator