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March 30, 2007

Community Engagement Scholars Program

Even before the speaker came in to our class to talk about the Community Engagement Scholars program I had already been interested in it, but now I for sure want to go for it. I just think it would be an amazing experience and really be one of the more worthwhile and beneficial learning oppurtunities I get in college. It's incredible how much stuff you can learn out of the classroom just by being out in the community and exposing yourself to new situations/people. I know 400 hours of undergrad sounds like a lot but I figure if I just keep volunteering weekly it shouldn't be that hard to do. I'm also really interesting in doing some service learning abroad (maybe in South Africa or Ghana?) which would help cover a lot of my hours. Anyways, I signed up for an informational meeting so I'll have to see how that goes.

March 25, 2007

Locked in

When I got to Open Arms on Friday the first thing they had me do was put about 100 cookies in those plastic baggys that don't ziploc. I haven't used those kind since I was a kid so I broke out my problem solving skills and took one of the already wrapped ones and unwrapped it to figure it out. Once I got the hang of it it was pretty easy. I got to work with four middle aged gay guys this time and actually had a lot of fun. They were all really nice and I had a pretty long conversation while working with two of them that were a couple. They asked how long I had been working here and where I went to school and how I ended up at the organization. They were pretty new to it as well. One of the reasons I enjoy volunteering here is because the atmosphere is so laid back. Everyone jokes around with each other and theres always enough food to sample some yourself. I think the first day I was there for orientation, I remember the leader saying "nobody ever leaves here hungry"...and I can see why. The couple I was talking to earlier were bagging chocolate chip cookie bars and we all ended up having one...they were pretty amazing. Also that day I helped bag some frozen meals that were going to be delievered the next day and oh yeah---I GOT LOCKED IN THE WALK IN FREEZER. I was only locked in for like 30 seconds but that was still enough time for me to panick. Luckily someone was walking by while I was knocking on the door. Phew.

March 15, 2007


So today was the first day I actually did hours for my asthma thing and I actually went to Phalen Village Clinic in St. Paul rather than Smiley's (there both university clinics). When we got there we found out that unlike our training session at Smiley's, we'd be looking through stacks of paperwork instead of computer documentation of physician visits. We were a little disappointed. There were two of us and we spent three long hours looking through stacks of papers and we got through about 25 asthma patients. Something that really suprised me was the age range of the patients that we were looking at--there were some that were only 6 months old and one that was in her 80's. It's sad to see that a baby can already have a folder full of doctor visits before they can even talk. One of the things we have to list on the chart we fill out is if they have had any 'asthma education' in the last year. This seems like one of the more important things to find out since we are trying to help raise awareness and minimize astma related hopital/ER visits, but I'm pretty sure on every single patient I had to list 'no' because no where could I find any documentation to indicate otherwise. It kind of made me wonder why we were even doing this...One thing that I found really interesting was the comparison of the two clinics I went to. Even though they're not that far away, you can tell there in two pretty different neighborhoods just by the people you see waiting for appointments and the way they organize everything.

March 5, 2007

volunteering at open arms

So today was my first day volunteering at open arms. I got to work in the kitchen and I actually really liked it. At first I wanted to adminstrative work and the kitchen was my second choice, but I discovered that I really like the environment of the kitchen. Everyone there is extremely nice and very helpful. When I got there, I got a tour of the kitchen and then was put straight to work. The first thing I did was use one of those big, mechanical slicer thingys to cut some cheese and some ham. I had never used anything like that before, but it turned out to be pretty easy and suprisingly enjoyable. Then it was packaging time. There was about five of us who all worked together to do this. Someone had already put food into cordboard trays with little compartments so one person took those and dropped them on the machine. Once they went through, they come out sealed with plastic and then some one labels them and I stacked them. After that, we set up five stations and each station had about 200 of these trays with different entrees in them. We went through and took a tray from each station and then they were bagged. These bags are what the clients recieve each week. It was really crazy to see such a large amount of food being given away--once you see it you really understand how large the orginization is and how many people they help. It's also pretty amazing to think that that much food can be prepared in a kitchen literally only the size of our classroom and that all of it is prepared by people who aren't getting paid. I had a really good time volunteering today.