February 2010 Archives

Ebenezer Tower Apartments, Week 3

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My third week of volunteering at Ebenezer was rather stressful. I am beginning to form relationships with people that I help. One thing that I have noticed has been that the same people ask questions each time I am there. They all have their individual use of the computer and all have different ranging abilities with the computer. It is so cool to help them because some people really challenge my abilities on the computer, while others ask questions that are rather basic. It is amazing to see how much computers have influenced our lives. People that I help are just overwhelmed with opening the internet, let alone the idea of researching something on the internet.

My volunteer experience at the apartments has been so awesome so far. I really enjoy working on each individual's projects, especially when they challenge my ability on the computer. I didn't think through my volunteer experience that I would learn anything knew on the computers, but I actually am. I love all of the conversations I have with everyone. Today, an elderly man and I had a long conversation about the economic situation with the American car companies. It spanned for almost twenty-five minutes before coming to a close. It is through simple examples like this that I know my choice of volunteering was correct.

by: Nick Mueller

Volunteering at Fairview - Week 4

For this post, I have reviewed some of the initial questions posted on the blog. One that really stood out to me was "Are you experiencing any benefits from your service-learning?" This got me thinking about what exactly I was getting out of my time at the Fairview pharmacy. Of course there's the obvious résumé-building experience, as well as the opportunity to network with people who are involved in the field I wish to enter after college. However, I think that the biggest benefit I am getting out of my service-learning is just further insight into how hospitals run and how complex the healthcare system is in our country. This is valuable because healthcare is arguably the biggest issue affecting our country today, and understanding the system better gives me the confidence to make more informed choices regarding healthcare. Also, just the knowledge that I am helping others through my service gives me a certain level of confidence and reassurance in my capabilities. Another great benefit from my service is the opportunity to meet perhaps the most diverse group of people I could ever imagine interacting with, because no matter what "identifies" a person, chances are pretty good that at some point in their lives they are going to find themselves in a hospital setting, whether it is for receiving treatment or visiting someone they know. This is really an invaluable opportunity to me because I come from a small town in Wisconsin where diversity is not really something that is made apparent or celebrated on a daily basis. These benefits are a huge part of what keeps me returning to Fairview, and often volunteering is a highlight of my week.

Hope Lodge, wk 2

On Wednesday, I went to the Hope Lodge for my second week of volunteering. Once again I was the only volunteer, so I was assigned to the front desk, but this week was really fun for a couple of reasons. The first reason was that I got to see a couple return from the hospital and the wife had just been told she can go home for the first time in 4 months!! The look on both their faces was extremely touching, as going home is something I take for granted, but the news that they could return had just made this couples week. The other reason was that I got to be in-charge of placing pins into the map at the Lodge where they keep track of how far people have traveled to stay there; this map was filled with pins, with places as far away as CA, which I was somewhat stunned by, but also very impressed as I did not realize that the medical care in MN was good enough to draw people in from other states.

Passion for Volunteering

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So far, I have gone to my orientation at the American Cancer Society. Right away when I walked into the lobby, I saw some pink bracelets to represent the fight against cancer, but I did not put it on right away. During my orientation, I saw the passion the people at ACS had for their cause, and I felt that energy transferred to me. I unwrapped the bracelet out of its package and I've been wearing it with pride ever since. I believe that it is occurrences like these that fuel the force of social change.

Preparation

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This week I did not volunteer, but I have been talking to my contact at the American Cancer Society who is trying to find a time everyone can come in for training. Since I am starting to volunteer a week from this Saturday, I really hope we can find a time to be trained before then. The volunteer project I will be participating in is sitting at a table at an event and answer questions for people. If I am not trained for this situation, I will not be able to do a good job, and the people I am trying to serve will not get the correct information they need. Overall, this would make for a bad situation, but I do not think this will happen. I am still nervous about the event because this is the first time I will actually be answering questions for people instead of me getting my questions answered. I will be on the other side of the table. I think this will be a really good experience because it will ease me into educating people about cancer, so hopefully one day I can put on a presentation of my own.

Shadowing

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Yesterday was my first day shadowing for my class. It took me a very long time to find the room and building I was supposed to be in, I did not realize how many public living complexes were in that area. They are all so large as well and very bustling. Everyone in the area was Somalian, all the women were wearing hijabs and everyone was only speaking Somali. It was so odd that the mixtures of cultures of the area is so different than the University's, just a few blocks away from the West Bank campus. Well I got pretty lost, but that was a good thing because then I went through many different buildings, seeing how differently people in these public housing complexes live and interact. Eventually I found the room and jumped right into the class. It came extremely easy to me even though I had been nervous. I think this was because the women were all so EXCITED to learn English. It's all they talked about. They were between the ages of 40-70 and barely spoke any English, only a few words, no sentence structures. That's why I am amazed looking back that we were able to communicate so easily with one another. Trying to remember all their names, though it is difficult to tell them apart because their hijabs cover most of their bodies and faces, and very difficult to pronounce their names, but they take joy in my efforts :) Anyway, very excited, tomorrow is my first day flying solo, the women were very excited that I was coming back as well.

Shadowing

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Yesterday was my first day shadowing for my class. It took me a very long time to find the room and building I was supposed to be in, I did not realize how many public living complexes were in that area. They are all so large as well and very bustling. Everyone in the area was Somalian, all the women were wearing hijabs and everyone was only speaking Somali. It was so odd that the mixtures of cultures of the area is so different than the University's, just a few blocks away from the West Bank campus. Well I got pretty lost, but that was a good thing because then I went through many different buildings, seeing how differently people in these public housing complexes live and interact. Eventually I found the room and jumped right into the class. It came extremely easy to me even though I had been nervous. I think this was because the women were all so EXCITED to learn English. It's all they talked about. They were between the ages of 40-70 and barely spoke any English, only a few words, no sentence structures. That's why I am amazed looking back that we were able to communicate so easily with one another. Trying to remember all their names, though it is difficult to tell them apart because their hijabs cover most of their bodies and faces, and very difficult to pronounce their names, but they take joy in my efforts :) Anyway, very excited, tomorrow is my first day flying solo, the women were very excited that I was coming back as well.

Orientation at the Hope Lodge

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Last week I went to the Hope Lodge for my volunteer orientation before I could begin working with them. I was pleasantly greeted at the door and my first impression was that this would be a great place to volunteer. There were several students at my orientation and we were all given a tour and a run down of Hope's mission and service. Even though it seemed like they had many volunteers we all felt very appreciated and needed and welcomed. Immediately I could see myself enjoying working for Hope because of what they do for cancer patients and because of how nice the lodge was that gave the patients a substitute home and community to recover with. It was a real community where everyone helped each other and cooperated with each other to create a home. Even among the volunteer staff everyone was willing to help the newbies learn new tasks and feel welcome. I am very excited to begin volunteering at the Hope Lodge and if everything goes well I am already planning on staying with them through the fall.

Hope Lodge Orientation-Week One!

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This past Wednesday I met with Debbie Nelson from the Hope Lodge and began my volunteering process. For those of you that don't know, the Hope Lodge is a place where adults with cancer can stay during their treatments free of charge. The only stipulation is that you have to live 40 miles from the Hope Lodge. When Debbie and I met, she explained the importance of the Hope Lodge and how many of the guests were referred there by small town hospitals. She explained that it was important not only to make the guests as comfortable as possible, but for their caregivers to feel welcome and comfortable as well, because of the responsibility and strain that they have to endure as well. Our responsibilities as volunteers are to clean, manage the front desk, and help the guests in any way that we can. I'm very excited to be starting, the Hope Lodge seems like a great organization that offers a very caring service.

Ebenezer Tower Apartments, Week 2

Today was my second day volunteering at the apartments, and I actually felt sort of stressed by my workload. I know now for sure that I do not want to be any sort of technology consultant. Again, through my work, I have noticed the trend that these elderly citizens are not all that interested in working with computers, but rather just being able to talk to me about their lives. It is amazing to hear everything that these people have gone through in their lives, and the fact that they are so open with it, is just amazing.

I enjoy being able to help others and being able to serve them not only with technological problems that they are having, but also just by listening to everything they have to say. I felt especially bad for one lady, today, because she really wanted to copy all of her important documents that she owned, like her birth certificate and marriage license, but just couldn't figure out how to. Helping her to do such a desk was extremely rewarding, and through this service, I am so happy that I am choosing the service-type career that I am. Through simple tasks like service, we are able to reaffirm exactly what we want to do with the rest of our life. This serves as an important reason to service.

Overall, I am really happy that I volunteered at such a wonderful place. The people I work with are awesome, and the elderly citizens are awesome as well!

by: Nick Mueller

Volunteering at Fairview - Week 3

I was wondering what I would write about in this blog entry while volunteering this week and after two hours of consideration, still did not have anything original or exciting to report that made this week different than any other. Then, as I was leaving the pharmacy for the day, the pharmacist told me thank you for my help and said I was very helpful during their rush hours. Oddly enough, I thought it had been a relatively slow day for filling medications. This gave me important insight into the role I play in the pharmacy. There are a lot of facets of the pharmacy that I am not aware of and don't really realize how they all play into the pharmacy's daily functioning. There were a lot of unexpected problems apart from filling medications that the pharmacy had to deal with. A simple thank you really opened my eyes to the importance of my job within the hospital. Receiving this positive feedback really left me feeling good about my work, even though I had just been walking around the hospital wondering what original thoughts I could share on this blog posting. I will remember and reflect on this experience in the future if I'm ever wondering how my simplistic service is impacting people on a larger scale. I also will remember that even when it's unspoken, there are many people who are thankful for my service, which gives me a good sense of worth within the Fairview community, an important aspect of service.

First Friday at AFA

My second blog post has been overdue since I have gone to tutor at Augsburg Fairview Academy twice before today and after my first blog post, so I will try to recollect my first few weeks in the coming week's blog posts.
One interesting thing that happened on my first day of tutoring when I first arrived at the school was my requested help from my supervisor when she was helping get some registration forms done for a student who wanted to enroll at this school. My help didn't end up being necessary, but I did get some impression as to the reason why at least a few of the students attend the school. This particular student had been bounced around a few schools in the past year because of moving for unidentified reasons. At least for this student, it appeared that her enrollment at this school was for reasons other than an interest in a health career. Perhaps this school can interest her in such a career through its curriculum, but I guess it appeared to me that the reasons for her enrollment were otherwise. I thought this at the time because I had insinuated reasons why she had been bounced around a few different area high schools in the last year based on her current family situation (which I'd rather not share for some level of confidentiality) and her stated desire to graduate from high school.
I guess this situation made me question the school's mission to serve the needs of kid's interested in pursuing health careers. Then I came to think that maybe part of the mission of the school is to get kids interested in a health career who may not have been otherwise through its specialized seminars it teaches, so perhaps I was partially mistaken on the mission of the school.
Now to the actual tutoring of my first session at the school. I was present in the room where students who came in and were on computers, some working on homework and some just surfing the web. I did help a few students with some math problems that were giving them a little trouble. I always made sure they understood why they were supposed to do something in the problem rather than just giving them the answer, so I think that I am helping them in the long run with their school work. In the time when students said they didn't need help with their work, I was able to work on some of my own homework, so that was good too.
I think that after this first time, my service experience was going pretty well and couldn't really think of much to take it to the next level other than maybe asking more often if students needed help with what they were working on since I know from personal experience that some kids don't seek help unless they are asked if they need it.

Hope Lodge, wk 1

It was my first day volunteering at the Hope Lodge, and because of my laidback orientation I did not know what to expect. Today, because I was their only volunteer this morning, I was assigned to the front desk. This was a fairly basic duty, as all I had to do was to check residents in and out and answer phone calls, but I was glad it was my first assignment. This is because it gave me a chance to meet some of the residents, and there are some real characters staying there. Within my first 5 minutes I had an elderly fellow come up to me and rudely tell me to stay out of his lounge; I just stared at him for the longest time and finally he burst out into laughter and said that he thought he would give me an interesting first day experience. I also got a chance to talk with another lady about how important the Hope Lodge is to her, for she said she could barely afford to parking at the hospital, let alone stay in a hotel during all of her treatment periods. I am vey excited to go back and meet more of the residents and perhaps expand my duties.

Orientation with ACS

Last week I attended an orientation session with the American Cancer Society (ACS) in Mendota Heights. I was so excited to go because I've been working with ACS for a while now, but I'd never been to their main office. For my volunteer experience, I'll be working with the Health Disparities Department, so the woman presenting at the orientation gave a slide show of possible events that volunteers may be able to help with. I was really interested to hear about the different cultural communities I would be able work with, and I feel like I will be able to learn a lot of about different types of cancers and how the word "cancer" affects specific people. She even said I could come back to the office to learn about specific cancers for my own benefit.

Although I was really impressed by the office and the orientation, I was a little taken back because my actual volunteer duties have nothing to do with the volunteer duties I read online in order to apply for our service learning locations. I was sort of disappointed, but I talked to my volunteer coordinator, and she basically told me I could make my volunteer experience very specific to myself, so I can do anything with the ACS office that I feel passionate about.

Overall, I'm really excited to get started, and I can't wait to begin shaping my experience through my current and new duties with ACS.

Do It GREEN!

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So far I have not been doing that much as a workshop coordinator for Do It Green! Minnesota. I had a meeting with Ami Voeltz two weeks ago. We met at this really neat building the Green Institute which is primarily made out of recycled materials and has sustainable energy. Most of our meeting consisted of us just getting to know each other a me learning about Do It Green! Minnesota. Yesterday, however, I have started to put in more hours to volunteering. I am posting events on the Do It Green! Minnesota calendar. It is actually more work than I thought it would be. Ami forwards me events and I have to edit them and trim them down to put them in formats that the calendar agrees with. It is kind of fun though.

Orientation for FOLC

Yesterday I attended my orientation for the program I will be working with through the Family Opportunities for Living Collaboration (FOLC) where I will be teaching the speaking and writing conversational/daily English component to a health class for primarily middle-aged Somalian woman. I had my orientation at the headquarters, which is a very small cramped office in the Cedar area, and met with the director of volunteers for the FOLC. The meeting was very informal, I did most of the talking, and she wasn't able to answer many of my questions, but wants me to start next week. This is a little scary, but actually quite exciting. As I said to her, I don't think I would get the opportunity to do something like this or learn what I am going to learn through any other program. I shadow the other tutor on Monday over at the "classroom" (a cafeteria in a public housing complex near the Triple Rock) and then I start teaching my own class that following Wednesday. Pretty scary, but I am a pretty confident guy, hope they like me and actually learn something from me.

Tara Dammer

Hey I'm Tara Dammer, one of your TAs. Sorry it took me so long to post my description! I am majoring in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development with a minor in Management. My ulimate goal is to attend Pharmacy school. An interesting fact about me is I am the President of the Pre-Pharmacy club at the U!!

Having been volunteering at my site for 5 months now, my impressions are not changing as much as they would have been over the first few weeks of my service at Fairview. My role as a pharmacy messenger is clearly defined, and my job week after week is to deliver medications to various units in the hospital as well as help with basic organization tasks. However, I recently attended my pre-service training, and I have new ways to reflect about my service work. In training, we classified experiences as "shallow" or "deep," and I started wondering how I would classify my experience at Fairview. On the surface, my experience seems shallow. I am not bettering patient's lives through any sort of direct involvement, but I have discovered this does not mean my service is meaningless. The depth of my service, I believe, lies in the fact that my position helps important aspects of patient care run more smoothly. My basic work alleviates stress on both the pharmacists and nurses because they know that the medications are getting delivered on time for patients to be discharged. Furthermore, I am developing a deep connection with a hospital/pharmacy setting, which may be similar to my future place of employment. In a big organization like Fairview, it seems hard to create lasting change, but if the little things did not fall into place, the bigger operation would crumble. I will keep this in mind if I am ever doubting the importance of my work, which will help me become a more effective volunteer.

Ebenezer Tower Apartments, Week 1

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Today was my first day volunteering as a computer coach at the Ebenezer Tower Apartments located on the north side of Minneapolis. The apartments are home to many elderly senior citizens, who can all live and function on their own. This particular set up is not an assisted-living facility.

When I first learned the nature of the job I was excited. This was because of the fact that it pertained to computers which I knew was something that I was very talented with. However, after my interview process I experienced my first computer customer. I soon learned the nature of the position dealt with much more than simply teaching seniors how to use computers, but being able to socialize with them.

Overall, after my first experience I am still excited to be a volunteer holding this position, and love to hear all of the stories each person I help has to tell. I feel that I can really make a difference here, by not only teaching these people how to do simple computing tasks (checking email, simple internet searches, etc.), but also by just talking with them. Ebenezer is a great fit for me, and I am happy that I hold the volunteer position of computer coach here!

by: Nick Mueller

First Experience at AFA

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First of all, my position with Augsburg Fairview Academy (AFA) entails tutoring high school students in math, science, English, and any other subjects that they may need assistance with. Additionally, helping out with other tasks, such as resume building, may also be included in this position.

My first experience with AFA was actually on Thursday, January 28th. I was given an overall tour of the high school, which is located on Columbus Ave. in Minneapolis, not far from campus, and met several of the students.

Initially, I was just excited to be checking out a new opportunity within the community, and as my tour continued, I maintained this excitement. In comparison to my own high school, I noticed that AFA is much more laid back and not structured in the same way as most high schools. Students only attend classes Monday through Thursday, and Friday is an optional day for catching up on homework, receiving help from tutors, and attending workshops.

The teachers that I met were all very friendly and happy to have a new tutor in the school, and one of the teachers actually helped me out with a networking connection related to my major immediately after meeting him.

Anyway, my first tutoring experience was interesting in the sense that I did not actually do any tutoring. It was a pretty quiet day in the tutor room, and most of the students that were present were busy doing other things on the Internet or really did not need help with anything. As a result, I read for most of my time there.

When I was getting ready to leave the school, one of the students did approach me and asked if I could help her out with building a resume at the next tutoring session (which will be tomorrow, February 12th). Since I am no resume expert, I have been gathering some tips and suggestions for resumes so that I can actually be beneficial for this student tomorrow when I see her.

Even though my first volunteer shift was pretty low-key, it did not discourage me from wanting to go back. I really think that it will be a positive experience for me to carry out this tutoring position, and as I get to know the students and watch the progress that they make in their classes, I think the amount of work that I will be putting into my job as a volunteer will continue to increase.

Education is something that I have been more and more interested in, especially through my work with the education department at Como Zoo, so I anticipate that my current position with AFA will only add to this interest of mine.

I'm a part of ACS

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My initial impression was WOW this organization is fabulous. The weather was bad when I had orientation and I ended up being late but the coordinator was just so happy we were safe. The orientation provided me with a lot more opportunities than I was expecting. She should us around the place introducing us to the other coordinators and managers. Everyone was super nice and they really made me feel I was a part of the organization not just a volunteer. I really wasn't expecting that because usually there is a separation between the people organizing and those out in the community. The organization serves all of Minnesota, providing education and services. The American Cancer Society was super willing to network with us to help in career fields and educate us. I am going to benefit by receiving free class on types of cancer and being able to make connections to influential people in the community. I really hope to continue with this organization through the summer.

Hope Lodge

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This past Thursday I had my volunteer orientation at the Hope Lodge and was surprised by how little I had known about the place before arriving. I knew that it was sponsored by the American Cancer Society, but that was about it. After orientation, I understand just how important the services are that the lodge provides, as its free stay helps to save patients undergoing cancer treatment the expense of staying in a hotel, for what could be months at a time. I also appreciate the effort the founders put into making the lodge feel like a home so that the patients could have a level of comfort that they can't find in a hospital; the entire lodge is painted beautiful colors and has numerous amenities for its residence. The orientation process itself was a lot more lax than I had anticipated, as I didn't receive any instructions on how to perform any of the tasks you can do while volunteering, but I did receive a very thorough tour. I can't wait to get started and see what my role will be at the Hope Lodge and get a chance to interact with the residents.

Volunteering at Fairview

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This semester, I am volunteering at the Fairview Medical Center - Riverside. I have been volunteering in the pharmacy there since the beginning of this school year and have really learned a lot about the profession of pharmacy as well as the basic functioning of a hospital setting. My job is to deliver medications to the units where patients are being discharged. The biggest eye-opener of this experience so far has been the size of the hospital I work in and how many people work there. Previously, every time I thought of a hospital, I immediately thought of nurses, doctors, and patients, but I now understand that there are numerous people who are integral to the daily functioning of the hospital. My position in the pharmacy exists because in order to serve patients the best, all aspects of their care (check-ups, day to day care, medication delivery, etc.) must be integrated. I am very fortunate to have this experience working for the betterment of patient care at Fairview. Throughout the semester, I plan to gain as much knowledge about helping patients to the highest degree and hope to use this knowledge to carry out mission work in the metro area or internationally in the future.

Questions to consider for blog postings

Here are some questions you can think about when writing your blog postings:

-What was your initial impression of your site?
-What are your assumptions about the people you are working with/serving?
-How did you feel on the first day?
-What are your expectations for your service-learning experience at this site?
-Why does this organization exist?
-Who does the organization serve?
-How is your organization funded?
-What makes this organization different than others who may serve a similar population?
-What surprised you about this visit?
-Are you experiencing any challenges with the site, people, etc.?
-Are you experiencing any benefits from your service-learning?
-How can you take your service to the next level?

Hindu Temple Volunteering

I have been volunteering at the Hindu Temple of Minnesota, located in Maple Grove, MN. Usually, I do secretarial work at the front desk or serve meals for the temple goers. However, I recently started volunteering at the free medical examinations that the temple offers. This past Sunday, I volunteered for four hours at the clinic by assisting the MD's when families came in for their free check-ups. Since the medical examinations started this year, there was not too many families because not that many people know about this offering yet. I assisted about 5 families, by helping them fill out forms. I would then hand the MD's tools if they asked for it, and answered phone calls for those wanting to make appointments for next week. I really enjoy my time volunteering at the temple, and am excited when the medical examination becomes more established.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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