PUKA Painting Team
——At the center of LDP is a team– a team willing to step up and go the extra mile for both the community and themselves. I found while working on the PUKA project that I had to rely on my team constantly in order to accomplish the tasks at hand. To begin, the PUKA project included two separate projects in which we would repaint the bookcase in the library and replace the decrepit roof on the shed in the playground. The PUKA School has worked for the last 45 years as a non-for-profit to improve the lives of children by providing a safe place to learn and grow. They are always open to any help from the community and as part of the LDP, it was a great experience to help them in anyway possible. Before this event, I had never led an LDP service project. While thrilled to accept the challenge, I knew it would be a personal challenge to trust and not micromanage. I physically could not execute this project alone, so I called on my team and enlisted the aid of two members to work directly on each project so that I could focus on the event overall.
We hoped to build up our team by teaching new skills while providing the PUKA School with renovations that further their vision of providing an uplifting area for children to dream and grow. The event took a lot of planning, and we worked hard to prepare contingency plans for each project as well as a detailed layout of all tasks. Even when the weather refused to cooperate, resulting in the shed team project being postponed, the contingency plan was in place so that the event could still go on.
Southern Illinois University (SIU) has been around since 1869. Since then, many students have come through the doors to start preparing for their careers. SIU’s schools offer several opportunities for students; whether their dreams are to become engineers, athletes, or even astronauts, all are achievable at SIU. On March 7th, SIU will be hosting its second annual Day of Giving, also coined “SIU Day”. This year, the LDP sought out the opportunity to join the college of engineering for the one-day campaign.
The Day of Giving is an event that seeks donations from alumni, students, families, and SIU supporters. It began in 2017 and was a huge success in raising money for numerous causes around the University. The LDP initially planned to begin its own Giving Campaign this year. However, thanks to the guidance of Nanditha Balasubramanian and Matt McCoy, we decided to team up with the SIU’s Day of Giving. Dr. Warwick, Dean of the College of Engineering, agreed to have the LDP as a direct option under the College of Engineering for SIU Day.
On January 17th, the Saluki Science Ambassadors (SSA) kicked off the semester by volunteering at a Gumdrops event. Gumdrops is an amazing non-profit charity in Carterville, Illinois. This charity provides at-risk children with backpacks containing a weekend’s worth of food. Their mission is to remove barriers to academic success for the at-risk children by providing them with the food they need, giving them one less thing to worry about. This charity feeds over 1,300 children every week. As a community outreach RSO, the SSA thought this was a perfect place to volunteer.
Helping at Gumdrops wasn’t only a way for us to get back into the swing of things, but also a great way to give back. At SSA, we strive to give back to the community as often as our busy schedules allow us. Another nice perk of the Gumdrops event was that it gave us an opportunity to spend time together as an RSO and get to know each other better. I’m proud of my team for growing closer as an organization while doing something positive, and it’s just another reason why I love SSA.
SSA spending their Wednesday helping kids in need
At the end of last school year, Dr. Spector announced she would be retiring after a successful career of changing the lives of countless Engineering students. One of the most memorable ways she helped her students succeed was her Pancake Breakfasts before each exam. The Sunday before an exam she would invite the whole class to come to the Necker’s study area to study the exam while she made us pancakes. I always appreciated her doing this and was amazed by her ability to run the entire process of taking orders, making pancakes, and answering questions at the same time. Dr. Spector inspired me to continue this practice for finals week.
During the Martin Luther King Day project, I had the opportunity to work with a great team of both LDP members and another student to build a display, known as the Rokenbok case. This project used a series of interlocking cubes, Rokenbok, to construct a display for children visiting the Science Center to enjoy. The materials used were donated to the Science Center by a patron, who had saved them from being thrown out of a larger project that had no use for them anymore. Therefore, we were tasked with taking trash and turning it into treasure. Being new to these toys, I was unsure of how the project would go, but my team ended up having an exhausting, yet rewarding day.
Starting at 6:00 A.M., my team quickly realized our task would be much more difficult than expected; for the case that would hold the display was larger than we had thought and the parts we had were fragile and limited in number. Continue reading