186 South College

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Tag: service (page 1 of 6)

How I Changed My Own Life

This past spring break I went on a UDaB trip, although that isn’t really the main point. Yes, the trip was amazing. Yes, I made 40 new best friends. Yes, it was the freaking Everglades. But the point really isn’t what I did this spring break. The point is what I didn’t do this spring break.

Just like any other college student –scratch that, just like any other human- I have had my fair share of struggles with positivity. I’ll be the first to admit that some weeks it just feels like the world is out to get me and nothing can go my way. I’ve had those days where I have to force myself to get out of bed. Those moments where the stress bears down on me and I’m ready to quit college/run away/become an exotic dancer. This spring break, though, I decided that I was going to throw all of my negativity away. Literally. During the first day of the trip, we did a group exercise in which we wrote our anxieties down on a piece of paper, ripped them up, and threw them away. From that point on, I made a personal vow to myself that for one week I was going to try to make the best out of every situation. No longer would I let myself be controlled by my own unconstructive mindset. So, through all the poisonous plants, thousands of bug bites, and sunburn the Florida Everglades had to offer, I stayed positive. For the first time in my life I listened to the cliché advice all those YouTube self-help guru’s preach: happiness is a choice. Choose to be happy and you will be.

The Florida Everglades provided an inspired setting for an inspirational experience

The Florida Everglades provided an inspired setting for an inspirational experience

I have been trying to take step back from everything in my life that has become the “norm.” Instead of settling for the usual and getting sucked into bad habits, I’ve been looking at situations and trying to decide, really decide, if they are adding to my overall well-being. I no longer want to be put into circumstances that bring out the negativity in me. I’ve learned that it is much easier to be positive when the influences around me are positive. With more positive influences, I’ve noticed that everything that has happened to me has been able to be flipped on its head and looked at differently. Yes, I got a ticket today at a parking meter. At least I have a car to be ticketed. Yes, I was late to work and forgot to take my eyebrow ring out. At least I have a job with a forgiving manager.

I wouldn’t quite say that I have made it to happiness yet. What I will say though, is that deciding to look at the world differently has made the world different. Since making this personal choice I have started doing a lot more things for me. I’ve gone back to the gym, begun eating healthier, ended a few toxic relationships, and become more active in my commitments here on campus. All of this is possible because of an influential trip, with a great organization, and fantastic people. They showed me how easy it can be to take charge of my own life for the better. It does take courage though. I’m just glad I was able to find mine.

~Madeline Williams

Let’s Play Some Dominoes – Part 2

“Every action in our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.” ~Edwin Hubbel Chapin

Toward the end of last semester, I wrote about my experience volunteering with my service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, at The Friendship House’s Saturday Morning Sanctuary. This experience really made me think about community service and why it is important to help those in need. I felt like a changed person afterward. This past Saturday, I was able to volunteer at Saturday Morning Sanctuary once more, and those feelings were strengthened from the experience.

I entered the same church with my group, wondering if I would see the man I talked to last time, Peter, again. Part of me did not want him to be there; I was hoping that over the winter his situation improved and that he did not need to come to the sanctuary any longer. The other part of me, however, wanted to see him once more. I told him that I would come back, and I wanted to keep that promise.

As we began to hand out cups, sugar, and hot chocolate packets, I noticed a man walking over who looked very familiar. I wasn’t sure why at first, but then I realized who it was – Peter. His hair was shorter than the last time I saw him, but other than that he looked the same. We introduced ourselves and he told me that I looked familiar. I reminded him of the time I came last semester, and he remembered in an instant who I was and what we had talked about! I ended up sitting with him for a little to catch up. We talked about politics, traveling, our families, anything that we could think of! He was the same kind, intelligent person who I had met before.

Later on, I noticed a man sitting in the corner of the room carving what looked like the face of a lion into a long wooden walking stick. Bill, the man in charge of the sanctuary, asked the carving man, Marshall, to show us his other pieces, and he ran out of the room only to come pack with two large bags filled with more walking sticks. He pulled them out one by one, showing us the intricate carvings that he had made into the wood; each had its own story. He used techniques, like burning the wood, to shade the sticks, and he planned on eventually using paint to color them and personalize them for potential clients. He wasn’t doing it for money, though; he was doing it because he loved it. It was a way for him to escape for a little bit and do something that made him happy. And, boy, was he good at it! They were beautiful! I wanted to buy one right then and there, but, alas, I am a broke college kid.

After hearing Marshall’s spiel, we went back to handing out cups and sugar. I noticed that each person who came up to us was so kind and friendly. They all wanted to have conversations with us, even if they were only a few sentences long. The experience really reinforced what I had learned last time – that the stigmas behind homelessness simply aren’t true. Not having a stable living situation does not make you any less of a human; it just makes you more vulnerable. That is why it was so important that we volunteered there; it gave these people a chance to focus on something other than their lifestyle for a few hours and have meaningful, friendly conversations with another person.

I like to think that some day homelessness will no longer be a problem in our society, but I may be too optimistic. In the meantime, I can continue to volunteer my time to these people and do my best to get them to where they want to be in life. I know that what I did may not seem like much, but even the smallest action can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

~Heather Brody

Let’s Play Some Dominoes

Recently I volunteered with the Friendship House of Delaware at their “Saturday Morning Sanctuary” and I don’t think I will ever forget my experience. I didn’t know what to expect going into it. We entered a church in Wilmington at 8:00 in the morning to find homeless people sitting at tables, playing games and talking to each other. Some of them wouldn’t take their eyes off us. Bill, the man in charge of the event, told us that the Friendship House was an organization dedicated to helping the homeless. Every winter, they open up churches to let homeless people in to have a warm, safe place to stay on Saturday mornings. Pretty much everything was donated: coffee, tea, hot chocolate, pastries, hats, gloves, and board games. Our job as volunteers was to simply talk to the people who were staying in the church for the morning and make them feel like they are being treated like “human beings,” as Bill said. It made me a bit uncomfortable to hear him say those things right in front of all of the homeless men and women sitting nearby. Could you imagine someone talking about you like that? How must these people feel, knowing that they are not seen as important enough to be treated like human beings by some people?

Bill brought me and the two other volunteers to a few people who he knew were friendly and were comfortable sharing their situations with volunteers. I spoke to a man named Peter for most of my time there. The stereotypes of homeless people are so ridiculous; the idea that they are all just crazy people who were not motivated enough to keep up a stable lifestyle is completely untrue. Peter is one of the smartest people I have ever met. He is always reading and is interested in knowing about current events and what is happening in the world, which is more than I can say about most of my peers at the University of Delaware, honestly. He is passionate about music and about languages and traveling and movies and he even recommended some films that he thought I would enjoy watching. I also met a man named Michael who was one of the friendliest people I have ever met. He walked over to me and asked if I wanted to play dominoes with him, and we played game after game. He always had a smile on his face and a joke to tell.

I feel like people wouldn’t expect these things from a homeless person. So they don’t have a home. Why should that take away a person’s intelligence, kindness, dignity, or their humanity? Some of these people have dealt with horrible things – depression, suicide attempts, incarceration, divorce – and I think it is disgusting to look down upon them for their economic situations.

At around 11:00, Bill announced that the church would be closing and that everyone would have to leave. I said goodbye to my new friends, and was filled with sadness as they left. Where will they go now? What is going to happen to them? It was so cold outside and while I had the comfort of knowing in the back of my mind that I would end up in my warm on-campus dorm, these people did not have that privilege. It makes me so angry to think about how unfair it is that some people in this country have millions of dollars just sitting in their bank accounts, while other people are out on the streets with just a backpack to hold all of their belongings. We live in such a cruel world. But all I know is that I made a difference to Peter and Michael for one morning. I offered them a smile and some friendly interaction, something that Bill said they do not usually have due to their living situations. I gave them a few hours in which they could forget about their own lives and just have a friend that they could play with and talk to. Something as simple as that can truly mean a lot to someone.

I plan on volunteering with the Friendship House more often at their “Saturday Morning Sanctuary” events and I hope that I have convinced other readers to help out as well. Especially during this time of year, it is important to give back and to be thankful for what you have because you never know when you may lose it all.

Heather, Bill, and two other volunteers inside the church.

Heather, Bill, and two other volunteers inside the church.

The list of movies that Peter gave to Heather.

The list of movies that Peter gave to Heather.

~Heather Brody

Life’s Many Moments

This past weekend I traveled to New York City with my family to see Aladdin on Broadway. The show was absolutely spectacular and the amount of money and work that was put into the production was astonishing. There were gorgeous costumes, and the way they portrayed the scenes from the movie like the Cave of Wonders and the Parade were so creative and imaginative. My siblings and I left the theater in love with the show and talking excitedly about all of our childhood memories.

Tokens of remembrance from a memorable night.

Tokens of remembrance from a memorable night.

The next day I went to see the REPS’s Angels in America. This show was completely the opposite of Aladdin. It was a serious play with hard themes and exquisitely talented actors. Even though these two plays were dramatically different, they both were an outlet of creativity used to tell a unique story.

I started thinking about my story, and how University of Delaware has helped shape that. Have you ever just stopped walking on the way to class and thought to yourself, what am I really doing here? How did I end up here and where am I going? (That is…after you step off the path to dodge the incoming bicycles and long boards.)

There have been so many times in my life when I’ve pondered that exact question. Our lives are defined by a string of entwined moments that make us who we are. From being a Writing Fellow to living with Honors Freshmen, I realized that the Honors Program in particular has played a huge part in these significant “moments” of my college experience.

I soon realized that the moments I remember about my college career have not been when I was sitting in a lecture, but rather when I was out in the community doing something meaningful. I have seen Honors Students volunteering, creating their own RSOs, going abroad, and planning incredible events for their communities.

I love being in Honors because each and every student pushes me to be a better version of myself. It is not so much a competitive environment, but rather a collaborative one where people work together to make new strides.

Seeing these two shows definitely stand out as “moments” during my semester. They were amazing afternoons where I got to reconnect with family and friends and think about life. They even inspired me to continue writing a musical of my own. The project was on the back-burner, but if other people can write a show, shouldn’t I give it a try?

The moments that shape us during our college experience can mold us into a new person, or they can solidify our passions. So my question is…what moments will define you?

~Amanda Abrom

Running with Nuns

On an overcast Saturday morning a few weeks ago, I participated in a 5K race that yes, involved nuns. Specifically, it was the Nun Run, a race that occurs to benefit the Jeanne Jugan home, which is a residential facility for the elderly in Newark. I went with the Catholic Campus Ministry who bussed over 100 students to run. And yes, the nuns do actually participate in the race.

I ran in the Nun Run two years ago, as a freshman, and I was excited to get to participate again. The free shirts that they give out are quite snazzy and its always fun to tell people that I have run in a race with nuns. This year, I gave myself two goals for the Nun Run: to not come in last place and to get a picture with a nun.

I always have many distinct emotions when signing up for and running a 5K. I start off by feeling quite good about myself when I register for the event. I mean, what better motivation to get in shape than having to run 3.1 miles in public? So, I sign up and think about all of the ways that I am going to train. But unfortunately, all I do is think about training. That’s right, I don’t actually do it.

So, race day rolled around and I was nauseatingly unprepared. It was 6:45am and I was questioning my sanity for signing up to run 3.1 miles at this hour on a Saturday. But of course, once I got to the race location, warmed up and got my free t-shirt (it was purple this year), I was feeling much better about my decision.

The race got off to a good start. It was a beautiful morning to run and I felt great about exercising at such an early hour. However, around mile 2.3, things started to get rough; I was feeling the burn with each step. As I started to slow down, I passed one of the home’s residents who was walking the race course. And I thought, if this elderly man can walk a 5K with a walker, then I most certainly could complete this race. So I did. One foot in front of the other, I made it to the finish line. And, I did not come in last; I actually finished in the top 23% of the runners. Not bad for not having run a 5K in almost 2 years.

So that was one goal complete, and as you can tell from the picture below, my second goal was accomplished as well (getting the picture was far easier). As much as I dislike some aspects of running a 5K, the feeling of accomplishment after completing it is unbeatable. I could barely walk, but I felt as if I could conquer the world. I will undoubtedly participate in the 2015 Nun Run and I vow to actually train for it; you can hold me to that!

~Rebecca Jaeger

Mission accomplished!

Mission accomplished!

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