Teamwork Makes the Dream Work


A nice view of Long St. from my (sunny) daily lunch break walk.

We are hurtling toward the end of the summer at full speed over here at Per Scholas. Last week we prepared for a new class and tried to squeeze the last few applicants into the class that started on Saturday. Things were pretty hectic with a grand opening of the Cincinnati Per Scholas office scheduled for the same day as our final entrance exam testing. But we made it through and now we have an awesome class of twenty motivated and passionate students ready to begin their training.

To reward ourselves for the hard work we put in this week, the Per Scholas team went out on Friday for a day of team building. It was so much fun! We went to a place called the Chamber Escape Room (10/10, would recommend). An escape room is basically a live-action puzzle with clues hidden throughout one or two rooms and you have to solve all the puzzles within an hour to “escape” the room. I was a little hesitant at first, I think the whole Per Scholas team was, but we ended up having a great time and learning a lot about each other. After we “escaped” the room, we had a debriefing session where we talked about how we worked together as a team. Activities like that really do emphasize the importance of communication and teamwork, as well as highlight the skills and talents that each of us possess.

We made it!

We made it!

Saturday we had our first day of class! On the first Saturday before class begins, Per Scholas hosts an orientation with leaders from Nationwide. I started my fellowship in the middle of an eight-week class so it’s been exciting to see a group from the beginning. I am already marking my calendar to come back for the graduation of Class 12. We are all excited to see lives changed in the next eight weeks.

After our Saturday orientation, some of us fellows got a special treat: a personal tour of the Pizzuti Collection with Jessie and her Junior Docents. Another perk of the job! :)


Chrysler, the newest addition to the sculpture garden at the Pizzuti Collection.

This week is sure to be another busy week. We’ve got the first full week of class this week, so that is keeping everyone on their toes. On Wednesday I am presenting my research and survey findings to our board members and area IT leaders as I move toward the completion of my main project here at Per Scholas. We’re in the home stretch of this summer fellowship and I am determined to finish well!

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An Unfortunate Turn of Events

I have a habit of planning out my week each Sunday night or Monday morning. This includes mapping out the work I plan on completing each day, despite the invariable failure of these plans, I continue to construct one nearly every week of the year. It serves as a stress-coping mechanism as much as a proverbial roadmap for navigating the upcoming week’s workload. This week my work plan was, by all accounts, ruined early Tuesday morning thanks to a completely unpredictable culprit.

This past Tuesday I woke up with acute conjunctivitis, more colloquially known as pink eye. The infected eye was partly masked by a drooping eyelid that refused to rise any further. The white of my eye had become red and itched like no other ailment I have suffered through. After a trip to the doctor and a positive diagnosis, I was prescribed remedial eye drops and ordered to refrain from touching the infected area. It turns out pink eye is extremely contagious during the first 24 hours of its outbreak, regardless of the treatment; thus, I had to miss the entire workday on Tuesday and my work plan was effectively foiled before the week really even began. I was able to make it back to work on Wednesday and the rest of the week as the infection ran its course.

I have no idea how I contracted conjunctivitis, an affliction most common among children, for the first time two weeks before my 22nd birthday. It has been by far the most absurd occurrence of my fellowship, and my summer at large. A lesson I have taken away from the past week is that my plans, weekly and otherwise, need to include contingency procedures to account for unfortunate turns of events. As cliché as it sounds, life is unpredictable, no one can map out even a single day with great accuracy, it’s imperative to learn to adjust to the unforeseen obstacles life so recklessly throws in our way, and find a way to still achieve our goals.

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Drowning in Presentations

I’m currently working on not one, not two, but three whole presentations.  The most important right now is for the presentation I’ll be doing for the programs team.  It will mostly focus on cost analysis and how notes in Raiser’s Edge need to be reformed.  I had hoped to be able to predict or make models for how to predict some things for MAW, but I feel, after 8 weeks of combing through data, that there are just too many variables.  I have found few continuous patterns in all my analysis.

Part of the problem is that I only used data starting in FY 2011 for various reasons.  In 2011, we lost our relationship with Air Tran because they merged.  Previously, they had been giving us an exorbitant amount of flights for free. Airfare makes up 30% of our wish expenditures now.  We also got a new CEO who has us on track to grant the wish of every eligible child in Ohio.  We have subsequently ramped up our referrals and wish granting.

I tried to find patterns in what types of wishes children choose each year and found nothing I didn’t already know.  It’s difficult to predict because children are often swayed by advertising.  We had a major uptick in Disney Cruise wishes in 2012 and 2014 because that’s when Disney released two new cruise ships and was advertising them heavily. Also, Disney World makes up 50% of our wishes, and then a few other wishes types make up another 35% or so.  This leaves 15-20 wishes types that only makes up a percentage or two of the total.

I also started working on finding average wish costs, cash and in-kind, for wishes by type.  It’s taking quite a bit of time and I’m not even sure if I’ll come to meaningful conclusions, so I may abandon this to finish up all my Powerpoints.

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I Can See Clearly Now…

The Mayo Clinic defines seasonal affective disorder as a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year. Typically when people think of this disorder, they associate it with winter — the sun rarely shines, temperatures are colder than usual, and being outdoors just doesn’t bring the same pleasure as it does in other seasons. Sound familiar? “…the sun rarely shines, temperatures are colder than usual, and being outdoors just doesn’t bring the same pleasure as it does in other seasons.” Guys and gals the rain this summer has been unbearable. There’s no denying it. Waking up every morning, grabbing the umbrella on my way out the door, and sloshing in puddles to and from the office undoubtedly takes its toll.

noahs ark

But last week, there was a change in the winds (general cliched phrase, I don’t actually know much about meteorology…) and it appears that our 40 days and 40 nights of rain — or so it seemed — is coming to an end. So how does one celebrate finally having the ability to walk down the street without destroying a pair of shoes? By exploring Columbus, of course! Taking a morning to snap some pics of Columbus locations that I have visited as part of my fellowship experience got me out of the seemingly endless funk caused by bad weather. I took some time to explore downtown, visited the state house, and walked back to work by way of a bustling Nationwide Avenue during lunch hour. Seeing all the people out and about in addition to the blue skies more than made up for the fact that I was still dressed for colder temperatures…

state house

Bottom line, the weather can affect your mood. If it rains every single day for a month, then odds are your attitude will reflect that. It’s a struggle for everybody to keep a positive attitude in the face of miserable conditions. But when the sun comes out and the smiling faces follow, Columbus just seems like a happier town. Here’s to more beautiful days as we wind down the summer of 2015.


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A walk through the woods

Yet another great week of experiences, here at Shepherd’s Corner, to add to the books! On Wednesday I had the privilege to survey the wildlife with Jim Davidson. He is a retired pathologist (a physician who examines tissue, checks the accuracy of lab tests, and interprets the results for proper diagnosis and treatment) who has a genuine love for nature, and has spent much of free time enjoying the many gifts that Mother Nature has to offer.

I wasn’t sure what to expect for this walk, as far as how much we were going to be able to identify because Jim even said, “I’m not an expert. I’m a retired pathologist, and looking at wildlife is just a hobby.” I was just grateful that he was willing to take time out of his day to help with surveying because every little bit is significant. Much to my surprise, HE KNEW SO MUCH!!! I could barely write down what he was identifying fast enough!

It was fun getting to know more about him as we walked. He went to school for pathology, and after many years of schooling he got his first job at 30 years old. He retired 20 years later, and has spent the last 30 years doing “whatever [he] wants!” I was amazed that he was able to retire after only 20 years of working (sounded like my kind of future!), and I was even more amazed that he was 80 years old! We walked around the whole property starting at 9am and ending at 3:30pm, with a short break for lunch!

We were able to identify an impressive amount of species, including many butterflies, dragonflies, plants, and fungi.  When Jim showed up in a shirt with giant dragonflies on it, I had a feeling that they were a big interest of his, and I was right! We saw, and identified many species of dragonflies, such as the green darker, and white-tailed. Most of the ones we spotted were by the vernal pool, and down sitting on the rocks in the creek. They like to bask their wings in the sun, so with some patience we were able to see them land on the rocks that were in full sunlight. I learned something else about dragonflies too, which is that they don’t hang out around vernal pools that have fish in them because are their predators.

As we were heading back to the barn at the end of our excursion, Jim said “When I go out into nature I say that I am going out amongst friends. When I learn the name of a plant, insect, etc., they have now become my friend… Like when you learn the name of a new person. It becomes personal.”

When Jim said this I really took it to heart, and I wish that more people would learn to think like this. Knowing the name of something in nature does make the relationship with it more personal, and the diverse life on Earth gets that much closer to truly becoming one… in both body, mind, and spirit.

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Burning that Candle at Both Ends

I’m not gonna lie or sugar coat this…this week was stressful! Between a busy week at both work and at school and at home, I have been running on fumes here. So I’m just going to take a few moments here and let off a little steam while I reflect on the crazy that was happening this week.

brothersSo, for those of you who don’t know me too well, this has been a very emotional summer. I’m extremely close with my family and younger brothers have graduated high school and have both shipped out over the last two weeks to join the armed services. Jordan (pink), will be joining the National Guard as a helicopter mechanic, and Jarrod (gray)is in infantry training with the United States Marine Corps. I’m crazy proud of them, but also a little sad to see them grow up. Its a little worse because I can’t just call them up or see them when I go home. It will be amazing though the next time that I see them because I’m sure they will have become very strong individuals who will do great things for the service of our country. It has just hit me really hard this week about how hard growing up can be sometimes…

Continuing with the theme of growing up, I’ve been dealing with a lot of issues at my apartment building, from a leaking hose in my fridge, to my freezer not working, to water damage in my ceiling and floor and then waiting for them to fix stuff…I came home more than once this summer to large holes in my ceiling, paint fumes, and water puddles in front of my fridge. I will say though, I am thankful to have a place to call home and friends to let me vent and hang out or go out to eat when things were not the best at my apartment.
11059494_875035695910663_827656267460884415_oLastly, work this week. What a whirlwind! We had our junior docents practicing individual tours (which they all have been doing fabulously!), an installation of a new sculpture, a deinstallation of our bottom galleries, wrapping up construction, landscaping, and a smashing success of a garden party! Woo! Here’s the artist, Alex Arrechea, with his work Chrysler.

So yea….that’s where I am at right now. I am greatly looking forward to my weekend here to try and relax a little…there’s season 3 of Orange is the New Black and some coloring in my future I think! But this I guess is the part where I learn about balance in life haha…

Jessie out!

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Week 8 is Complete! Outreach Visits and Summer 2015 Open House

Last Saturday, we had a unique outreach visit to Common Ground Free Store, which is a store where all items are free. Items are donated to the free store, and when we were there, we saw clothes, shoes, diapers, small appliances, books, and toys. They also serve food to patrons, and served a full lunch and had many bags of fresh bread for patrons to take home. There are no income requirements and no need to show proof of income or questions about eligibility for the free store. After looking on the website, I saw that Delaware County churches, businesses, and civic organizations help to fund and run Common Ground. , individual donors donate much of the items at the store. We set up in the kid’s room with all the toys and books. We got to play our games and activities and give out goodie bags to almost every kid we saw!

Outside Common Ground

Outside Common Ground Free Store Ministries, source Powell United Methodist Church Website (


Outreach Volunteer, Brittany and I working with the kids visiting Common Ground Free Store

On Monday, we spent the morning re-organizing the front office space. I was really excited to do this because we could maximize our efficiency moving forward. I prepped for our outreach visits for the week.

Tuesday, I had my weekly meeting with Laura and we discussed some more projects I could work on and also making progress on the rest of my work. I went to our outreach visit at Strawberry Farms Park in Westerville with the WARM Summer Lunch Program. The kids were fantastic at this visit and we had a manageable 30 kid event. Most significantly, I got the chance to use the Outreach Participant Program Survey I created to start assessing the metrics of our outreach program. Since the inception of the outreach program, we’ve seen over 23,000 children throughout central Ohio. The main question we want to answer with this survey is how we can encourage more of the families of kids we’ve seen through outreach to come to KidSMILES if they need our service.

Outreach Survey Screen Cap

Screenshot of the Outreach Participant Survey I created and have been administering to parents during our outreach visits

On Wednesday, we had another great outreach visit with WARM at Alum Creek South Park in Westerville. I spent the morning prepping for the visit. When I got back to the clinic, I helped prepare for clinic that evening and also organized our outreach materials for our Summer Open House tomorrow evening!

WARM Visit Tent

WARM Summer Lunch Club tent at Alum Creek South Park Outreach Visit

WARM Visit David Outreach Activity

Me playing our chocolate frosting and brushing/flossing game at our Alum Creek South Park Summer Lunch Program Visit with WARM

WARM Visit Sign

We were welcomed by the WARM staff!

Thursday was a big day! I came to the clinic in the morning and VISTA staff and I immediately started cleaning and organizing the whole clinic for our Open House in the evening. This is a very important event for KidSMILES because we invited our board members, volunteer dentists, dental hygienists and other dental staff, outreach volunteers, and current and potential donors. We also set up a table that gave an overview of our outreach program. Once the food catering arrived, slowly, our Open House guests started to trickle in. We had a diverse mix of donors and volunteers come and a strong showing from our current and potential educational outreach program volunteers. I talked about our educational outreach program and gave tours of the clinic. My family also came! I was so excited to give my family a tour of the clinic and have them meet the KidSMILES staff! Overall, I had a great day.

David at Outreach Table Open House

Me manning our Educational Outreach informational table

David Outreach Table Open House Talking to Ivanna

Me talking with Educational Outreach Volunteer, Ivanna Soto

David and Family at Open House

My family came to visit the Clinic Open House!

David and Jack Castleman Picture

One of my good friends, Jack Castleman, who is starting dental school this Fall 2015 came to check out the clinic during our Open House

Friday was a pretty relaxing day compared to the rest of the week! We spent the morning cleaning up after the Open House and moved around our office furniture for more efficient workspaces. I worked on follow ups from the Open House and a couple other tasks I needed to get done. I also prepped for our visit on Monday.

I finished out the week on Saturday, where Columbus Foundation Summer Fellow Jessi e Crawford gave a private tour of the Pizzuti Collection to a group of other Fellows and me. It was cool to visit the collection and learn more about Jessie’s fellowship experience. We explored the Collection’s current exhibit, New-ism, which exhibited abstract and contemporary art that was no more than 14 years old. I grabbed a Short North Arts Passport, which lists the 17 art galleries in the Short North ad we can get a stamp from each gallery we visit. I usually go to Gallery Hop with my friends, so I’m looking forward visiting these galleries and finishing my Passport! It was a fun and informative ending to my busy week. I can’t believe I’m almost done. It has been such a rewarding and fun experience. I’ve learned so much!

Arts Passport Cover

Picked up an Arts Passport that I will complete next Gallery Hop I go to!

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