PUKA Painting By Maria Ross

PUKA Library Bookcase

     As a fellow mentee with Jessica, I had the opportunity to give back to my community this past weekend at the PUKA School childcare center here in Carbondale. While Jessica was planning this project, she approached me and asked for my help in one specific area. She planned to complete two different projects in one day: repainting a bookcase in the library and making a new roof for a shed located outside in the school yard. Unfortunately, due to the bad weather on the day of the project, the shed group was postponed. I was put in charge of the bookcase repainting, however, which we were able to do. Since Jessica no longer had two separate teams to lead, her and I worked together in leading the painting group.                                                                                                                         This was a helpful experience for me because I do not think that I am quite ready to lead a project like this on my own. Therefore, it was wonderful leading it under Jessica and having her as a safety net. Leading a project is a big responsibility, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to dip my toes into leading a service project before being put in complete charge of my own project. Jessica and I sat down before the project to plan everything out, discuss what materials we would need, talk about proper painting techniques, and come up with ideas on how this project can move smoothly while obtaining excellence. It seemed that if we did run into an unexpected problem, the team constantly worked to find solutions on their own. In the end, the bookshelf turned out really well! Continue reading

PUKA Project By Jessica Higginbotham

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.

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Carbondale New School Feedback By– Robert Lozar-McDonald

     One of the practices the LDP teaches is writing thank you notes to anybody who lent a helping hand or provided our group with an opportunity. Whether it is a guest lecturer, a company gracious enough to give us a plant tour, or even a stakeholder in a member project, we always finish the event with a thank you to show our appreciation.
     So, it was with great surprise that the LDP received a stack of thank you notes from the kids at the Carbondale New School showing their appreciation for the cleanup project we had recently completed. The notes were all so thoughtful, with comments on what a large difference they saw, how much cleaner it was, and how less scary the closet appeared. What was remarkable about this was that not only did they notice our effort, but they demonstrated one of the practices of exemplary leaders and a strong LDP value.

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Carbondale New School By– Robert Lozar-McDonald

     At first, cleaning out a musty, spider-ridden basement does not sound like a lot of fun. For the most part, you would be correct. However, the Carbondale New School project showed me otherwise, and it taught me the importance of knowing the strengths and interests of my team. The New School had a storage room in their basement that was in desperate need of a thorough reorganization and cleaning. Like all basements, it had been flooded multiple times and had a problem with local pests sneaking in and making it their new home.
     At the invitation from the Director, Carla, I came in after school and took a first glance at what needed to be done. I come from a family that absolutely loves stuff. I have had to clean out many of sheds, closets, basements, and rooms just in the spirit of making more room for more stuff. This project was in my wheelhouse, so I had a good idea of what to expect.

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A Day of Giving By–Scott Costello

Robert Lozar-McDonald

     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.

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LDP Blood Drive By– Jingsong Dong

Coordinating the blood drive was an exciting experience for me. This was a good opportunity to apply the leadership skills I’ve learned in the LDP and classroom to a project. To get something done, sometimes we need interpersonal skills and professional skills. Most importantly, we need to keep studying the skills to continue learning. Leading the blood drive helped me practice and test my skills. I knew there would be some challenges I’d have to face in planning this event, but when I needed help, I had the privilege to see the passion and dedication of my fellow LDP members. Without all their help, I don’t think I would have learned some of the things I did. The truth is sometimes I am still not good at communicating with others, but I can tell that I am quickly improving since joining the LDP.

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Gumdrops By– Gannon Druessel

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

Pancake Breakfast By– Nate Lightle

       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.

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Rokenbok By– Andrew Paxton

      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

Martin Luther King Day Service Project By–Robbie Lozar-McDonald

        The MLK service project was a project that hit home for me. The last week of summer vacation, the LDP people came back early for Team Week and enjoyed multiple days of physically and mentally draining tasks. At the end of the week we spent two days at the Science Center and worked hard to better our community. The MLK project really touches home for me especially because during our service project at the Science Center during Team Week, I had a sense of lack-luster. I was tired both physically and mentally and allowed it to show. After that had happened, I was determined to get another shot at the Science Center, and that’s just what happened. The mentors in the group had seen my struggles from before and decided to have me organize the MLK Day service project in hopes that I would gain an understanding of the work that goes into planning an event of such magnitude. Continue reading