Community and collaboration

This week, I am further settling into my position at WARM and discerning all it entails.  I had a meeting with a professor at Otterbein University with whom I will collaborate in the upcoming weeks.  We are creating a measurement tool to evaluate the Kids Lunch Club program and improve upon it in the future.  Through my research courses this past year in OSU’s Masters in Social Work program, I learned of the importance of evidence-based practice rather than the often utilized, yet potentially unconstructive “ooh, ooh, let’s try this” shot-in-the-dark style method.  Though the program currently runs smoothly, we will hopefully discover methods to strengthen the program and its mission.  I am also currently organizing the plethora of KLC volunteers into a database and will use this list to form a focus group of key volunteers from each of the four meal sites.  This group will meet to discuss any issues, concerns, and perceptions of the program, and will help determine volunteer satisfaction. 

 The second week of the backpack weekend meal distribution, which coincided with Governor Kasich’s visit to WARM and the KLC site, was a success.  A large crowd gathered at Ridgewood Park and the Governor spoke of his fondness of social service programs focused on hunger and youth.  I am hopeful this experience will lead to a continuation of the backpack program for the children of Westerville! 

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I continue to work on enhancing the kids’ meal experience by planning activities and special guests, including the Turtle Lady, COSI, and more.  In supervising and managing the sites, I observed several of the Americorp VISTAs taking initiative to enrich their site.  They networked with a local man, who builds “little free libraries,” who agreed to place one within one of our sites.  Here are some of the kiddos enjoying his handiwork and books donated to us! 

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From August 2010 until August 2011, I was a Jesuit Volunteer and committed to living out the values of social justice, spirituality, simple living, and community.  Still now, my time in the Jesuit Volunteer Corp remains close to my heart and in my mind, and I realize what a community can achieve when it works together.

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