Serving the City: Columbus Connections

My STEP signature project involved working as an intern with H2O Church in Columbus, OH. During this internship I was given the opportunity to serve the city through various different organizations. I volunteered with the Wexner Medical Center, OSU Hospital East, Stowe Mission of Central Ohio, Scioto Community Center, and Pelatonia. I specifically participated in a Leadership Training program this summer through H2O and was able to grow in social skills, leadership abilities, and experience.

My project allowed me to have an incredible opportunity to serve many different people this summer. As an intern with H2O, I was entrusted to complete administration work with Community Engagement, which is a service-focused monthly event that the church sponsors. From this I was able to learn about the planning that goes into setting up service trips for multiple people as well as learning how to interact and grow relationships with various partnerships. This particular portion was transformational because it allowed me to gain experience in a potential career path for me and taught me administration skills that I may not learn through my coursework as a Sociology major.

By serving with so many different organizations this summer I feel as if I was challenged and stretched in ways that forced me to learn more social skills. I learned how to be sensitive with patients in a hospital setting, to be sympathetic to those struggling financially in the south side of Columbus, to be attentive and caring in a nursing home/rehabilitation center, and to be thankful at a charity event. Overall, this summer transformed my heart toward people. I am excited about using my passions to help those around me and to make my community and city a more loving place.

As I previously mentioned, I participated in a program called Leadership Training, or LT. This program is intended to help students grow as leaders, particularly in a church setting, but the skills can also be transferred and applied to other life situations. For example, I learned a lot about reflective and active listening during this program and this semester I am working as a Telecounselor for the Undergraduate Admissions Office–where these skills can be easily applied to another aspect of my life. During this program I also met many people with whom I formed lasting friendships. We mutually encourage each other and provide emotional and spiritual support to one another. This affected me in many ways, particularly by showing me that I intend on pursuing a career in ministry post graduation and then after a few years returning to school to receive training in counseling. I am excited about meeting new people and helping to support them in any way possible.

While volunteering at the Wexner Medical Center, specifically in the Electro-convulsive therapy department of Harding Hospital, I learned many social skills focused on being sensitive and supportive for people. This department was challenging for me to be in because it showed me a lot of people who were desperate for improvement. During my time here I learned how to be supportive of patients and talk with them about their fears and anxieties as well as providing small helps, such as getting them water or food, to show them love. This experience really grew me in a passion for working with mental health and helping to reduce the stigma behind it even more than recently reductions. I also volunteered at University Hospital East on a nursing unit this summer. This experience was particularly difficult for me because I primarily answered call lights and did not have any interpersonal interactions with patients. Though this was challenging, I learned how to be patient and understanding with the people who I talked to. I think that this skill will be transferable to my current position with Undergraduate Admissions.

While volunteering with Stowe Mission of Central Ohio, I worked mostly with children in a summer reading program with the hope that more children will be excited to read during the school year. The school district in which I was volunteering only has around a 47% high school graduation rate and the hope is that starting at a young age, that pattern can be halted. I have always enjoyed working with children, and this experience was really enjoyable for me. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I also volunteered at Scioto Community Center, which is a nursing home and rehabilitation center. While volunteering there I had the opportunity to speak with elderly folks and really get to love them through conversation and genuine interest in hearing about their lives, as well as sharing our love for the Buckeyes. I definitely believe that I was presented with a unique opportunity to serve many different populations.

Lastly, I was able to serve with Pelatonia, which is a 25, 45, 55, or 100 mile bike ride that raises money for cancer research. While this event technically fell after the end of my project, it was something that I was really excited to do during my project. Cancer has been running its course through my family for many years now, and has really been a difficult challenge for me with my father being diagnosed with two different cancers within a year of each other during my first two years of college. With that being said, serving at this event was something I was extremely excited to pursue. I desire to see an end to cancer and support the research that could make that possible. The dynamic at this event was very interesting to me; I was able to meet people who also share the vision to see an end to cancer as well as people who were there volunteering because it was a paid work day for them. But during the time there, I felt extremely humbled. Seeing so many men and women participate in this bike race made me overjoyed and full of excitement. It was truly a privilege to be able to participate in this event. It was transformational because the event overall softened my heart and allowed me to see the goodness in people and their desire to improve our world.

Overall, my STEP signature project taught me a lot about myself. It clarified my professional aspirations and revealed some true passions that I have. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity that I had to serve in so many different capacities and continue this in my personal life during and after college. This project also showed me that I want to advocate for others to take a role in serving the community in which they live. It is so easy to think that one person’s contribution is not enough to make a difference, but if every person bands together, then change will happen–and that is such an encouragement.

Below: these are the men and women that I was teamed up this summer during my Leadership Training!