Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Month of Giving

After taking a week off of working for a trip home, it was hard to jump back into the day to day office work. It has been nice to be back in the land of mountains. Living in the valley keeps me fulfilled and grounded. The winter has definitely arrived; snow kept me company on my walk to work this week, and it was so cold that at one point one of my tears froze on my face! It is still quite magical though, and hopefully I will be able to brave the entire winter. Everyone is getting ready for Christmas, and I have been blasting my alternative Christmas mix throughout my house. It is nice to have snow and holiday spirit.

WRAPPING UP THE SEMESTER: Work has simmered down a bit, and my responsibilities are all very future oriented. I am currently working on time-lines and getting the smaller details in order to start focusing on the major events I have to plan next semester. It is a strange calm right now, because normally I am used to final exams and having so much work that Christmas Break is a nice time to simmer down. Right now although I do have regular daily tasks, it just feels as though December will be the calm before the storm that the end of January will bring. I am working on starting a creative writing contest among members which I am excited about and hope will work out. In addition, i'm beginning to plan a training for leaders in February which is my next challenge. For now though I work 9-5 in the office. Mondays and Wednesdays I spend at the YMCA tutoring kids which is a blast. I've been looking for other tasks at work like shopping for the veterans our office has adopted, really anything that can get me out of the office for a while.

A MONTH OF SELF IMPROVEMENT: This month I am able to focus on reaching some of my personal (non-work related) goals, and trying new things. I have committed to rock climbing at the gym once a month which has been a good way to challenge myself mentally / physically. I am also hoping to take a photography class in January so I can learn the basics of using a manual. Soon I might even pick up skiing to keep myself entertained and outside for the rest of winter. At night i've been trying to master my knitting skills. Although I have moments where I miss my friends and support system of Elon, I am extremely glad that I moved out on my own. It has been a challenge but a necessary one. In the few months that I have been here I have learned my strengths and weaknesses and really learned to appreciate who I am. I have built a support system here, though it is small compared to the one I had at Elon, it has made Montana feel like home. I am still looking to find more projects to do in the community, because I feel separate from it a lot of the times being in the office on campus. I guess that comes with most indirect service or office positions in any company. It has been discouraging at times to not be out in the community, but i'm doing my best to make the most of it all.

WORDS FOR CHANGE: The good thi
ng about my position is that the guidelines are very "big picture" guidelines, so I have a lot of freedom to plan fun projects within those very broad guidelines. The challenge with this is that I sometimes lose sight of the smaller details, but I have been able to come up with a new creative challenge for members. I am about to launch a "Words for Change" competition where members can creatively express themselves and reflect on their service a bit more deeply. It struck a chord with the head of MTCC, so he has offered to fund the contest giving the winner an ipod and publishing the works in some sort of final product! The first step has been typing up a convincing announcement and being clear about guidelines. I'm pretty excited about it, and it is something that will be mine which is pretty cool. Hopefully I will receive some quality submissions and maybe spark interest in a number of members all over the state.

Campus Corps team at the University of Montana ran adopt-a-family / adopt-a-vet program where departments / students/ community members can adopt either a family or a veteran and buy presents from their wish lists. My office adopted 2 veterans which I got to take the lead on, so my co-worker and I spent a morning shopping for model cars, george forman grills, and clothes for these two men who made sacrifices for us long ago. It was a nice change. My responsibilities were only supposed to go as far as buying and wrapping the gifts, but luckily my roommate needed a car to pick up all of the gifts to be delivered to the Valor House. We loaded the gifts that completely filled up my forester. Among these gifts were some snow shoes for a man named Russell. Upon arriving and unloading, I saw an older man's eyes light up as he watched me carry a set of old wooden snow shoes. To my sweet surprise, I witnessed Russell discover his Christmas dreams had in fact come true. It was warming, but not all of the veteran's wishes were as easily fulfilled. The only thing on one man's wishlist was a purpose. I was happy that many people without the same luxuries as myself were able to receive the gifts they wanted, but there is more to be done. It was a bittersweet project that reminded myself and my fellow team leaders that gifts can be fulfilling but they aren't always everything. We wanted more than anything to give this man a purpose, but he had to settle for new clothes instead.

: Finally I have something to show for my work, that you all can enjoy (should you have the time). I spent the last month working diligently on a newsletter to highlight as many projects and programs around the state I could fit in. It has finally been edited and posted on our website. If you want to learn more about the program, what the leaders I work with do, and what is happening with Campus Corps projects around the state you should check out the newsletter. Keep in mind that I was not a journalism major, so this newsletter format was new to me. Anyways, click the link to see the newsletter: http://www.mtcompact.org/documents/NewsletterFall09.pdf

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