5 Lessons of a Student Volunteer

Thursday, February 28, 2013

         My work here at the CCE began in the summer of 2012 at the Puentes al Futuro (Bridges to the Future) Summer Camp.  I have had some experience with middle school students; but 80% of my prior tutoring experience was with elementary age children.  I was open to this new endeavor though, and find it to be one of the best experiences of my college career thus far.  It also led to me to dedicate many of my hours, here at the CCE, in the tutoring program at the Middle School.  I now am a student leader of the Middle School House A/B Tutorial Program, and I enjoy it very much.  The children are always excited to see me, and it puts a smile on my face knowing that the time I have dedicated to this program has impacted their lives. There are also 5 lessons that I have learned through this process.
1.      Patience
Students may not always warm up to you immediately, but with patience and you will eventually be able to form mentor and student relationships.
2.       Dedication
                 Showing that you are dedicated to helping the student’s academics needs, will allow students to feel that they do have people that are willing to support them. Dedication requires setting aside time to put your full attention into the program, and giving your 100% while you’re at the site.

3.      Laugh
As a mentor/tutor you have to keep a professional attitude, but it is ok to laugh once and awhile with the student.  It allows them to feel more welcome.

4.      Show compassion
You never know what background a student may come from (socioeconomic, ethnicity, home environment) so always be sensitive to these issues.

5.      Push for Success
There are students who say “they can’t”, take that out of their vocabulary and show them that with hard work they can achieve academic success.

I Love Me Event

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

                     On February 14, a group of middle school children from the Windham Middle School Afterschool Program gathered in the Betty Tipton Room at Eastern Connecticut State University for ‘I Love Me!’ an event organized by Student Leaders Sonya Beetham and Jeannine Gemma and hosted by the Center for Community Engagement. The kids were broken into groups that switched every 20 minutes between stations, each having an activity to related to the kids about proper nutrition and self-esteem. For one activity, the kids wrote Valentines to themselves as a way to boost confidence; another included a game of Jeopardy during which the kids were quizzed on nutritional information.  For example, a 100 point question was “true or false: breakfast is unimportant.” The kids grouped together to give their final answers and rack up points to win prizes. At the end of the event the kids gathered in the middle of the BTR and were taught Brazilian dances, then allowed to dance on their own. When ‘Gangnam Style’ came on even the boys couldn’t wait to hit the floor. Everyone had a great time and we look forward to having them back in the future

Pay It Forward Gifts

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Whether you're buying a gift for Valentines Day or another event, a gift that gives back is thoughtful and promotes a good cause. Here are some ideas for pay it forward gifts...

1. UNICEF: Unicef has many Charity gifts they sell online for adults, children, and special occasions. A personal favorite were the multicolored beaded earrings! All proceeds go to Unicef

2. The Pink Ribbon Store: Sells goods that help the National Breast Cancer Foundation reach thousands of women in need each year. Goods range from pink socks to hats and water bottles! Perfect for V-Day!

3. TOMS: This newly popular shoe is not only fashion foward but gives shoes to children in need for every pair that you buy!

According to http://www.toms/com by not wearing shoes children are at risk for...

•A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause.
•Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected.
•Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential.

4.  Bead for Life:  BFL is a nonprofit organization and member of the Fair Trade Federation that works to eradicate extreme poverty by creating bridges of understanding between impoverished Africans and concerned world citizens.

Ugandan women turn colorful recycled paper into beautiful beads and communities in northern Uganda gather shea nuts and press them into shea butter for cosmetics and soaps.

5. Prosperity Candle: They "aspire to partner with thousands of women, providing them with a unique opportunity through candle-making: an opportunity to not only survive—but to truly thrive. Our Shared Prosperity business model acknowledges the women we work with as key partners in our business. It’s this business model that enables us to share our financial success with them."

Buy your candle at http://shop.prosperitycandle.com/

ECSU Blood Drive

On February 4 and 5 Eastern Connecticut State University held its third Red Cross Blood Drive of the school year. 165 students, faculty, staff, and community members filed in to the Betty Tipton Room for their opportunity to donate. According to the Red Cross only 1 pint of blood can save up to 3 lives meaning, up to 393 lives could potentially be saved from the 131 pints of blood collected at this drive. On top of the donors, there were 50 volunteers who worked 63 hours helping recruit and check –in participants. Contributors were rewarded with pancakes to help them recover from their donations.  This drive was a huge success for Eastern and we look forward to hosting more blood drives in the future.
For more information on future Red Cross blood drives at Eastern, visit www.redcrossblood.org  (code Eastern) or contact Irene Cretella at (860)465-0090, cretellai@easternct.edu.

12 Reasons Why People Who Volunteer are Happier

It’s been said that people who volunteer are happier but have you ever wondered why? The students of Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Community Engagement have their own opinions on the subject…
1.       It gives meaning to life.
                                 i.            Volunteering and giving back make your life more meaningful. The feeling you get when you volunteer is something you can’t get from many other things in life.
2.       Unique Opportunities and Experiences.
                                 i.            Volunteering can offer you experiences you otherwise wouldn’t have had. Those experiences can be memories that stick with you forever.
3.       Personal Growth.
                                 i.            Volunteering makes you feel good, and become a better person.
4.       Sense of Accomplishment.
                                 i.            When you volunteer you feel like you’ve done something important. The look on the faces of those you have helped makes you feel like you’ve made a difference.
5.       Learn new things.
                                 i.            Do you know how to build a house? Ask those involved in Habitat for Humanity, by volunteering you can do things you never thought you could.
6.       Meet new people / Network.
                                 i.            Volunteering opens you up to a whole community of people. You may meet a new friend, significant other, future employer, or reference for your new job.
7.       To have fun!
                                 i.            Volunteering isn’t all bland! Mentoring a child by simply spending time and playing with them is not only rewarding but fun!
8.       To find your passion.
                                 i.            You could be extremely passionate about something and just not know because you’ve never tried it. Volunteering offers opportunities to try new things and maybe find a new passion.
9.       Reduces Stress.
                                 i.            Volunteering gets your mind off your daily stresses and lets you focus on something pleasant.
10.   Builds Confidence.
                                 i.            By getting out there and not only interacting with a variety of people but doing something that makes you feel good about yourself, your confidence is bound to be boosted.
11.   Makes your Community a Better Place.
                                 i.            Everyone wants to live somewhere they are proud of. By helping out in your community you are only making it a better place to live for yourself and your friends and family.
12.   It Feels Good!!
                                 i.            Volunteering feels good! Knowing you did something to help someone else will never bring you down, it can only bring you up!

26 Acts of Kindness

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

26 Acts of Kindness:

We are excited to be participating in 26 Acts of Kindness for the Month of February. We already have students sharing their kind acts with us via Facebook and Twitter. Sherry, an ECSU student shared her kind act of returning a lost student ID (view photo left). This is among many kind acts that have already been shared with us including sending cards to sick relatives, bringing in food for coworkers and helping out a sick roommate. We look forward to hopefully many more kind acts to come!

We offer opportunities for kind acts around campus and in our community such as blood drives, tutoring and mentoring children, and benefit events, among many others.

To share your 26 Acts of Kindness visit our Facebook page "ECSU Center for Community Engagement" or Tweet to us @EasternCCE.