Sunday, August 17, 2014

VFCCH IDignity Volusia Event: The Aftermath!! o_0 (Final Blog)

Following the event we had an Out of State Documents Meeting.  Several volunteers, one of which was the lawyer, filed through all of the applications with a fine toothed come.  We took each application and checked for proof of ID (or the IDignity alternative which has been approved by almost every state, except a few states like NY and NJ), personal information, proof of address, and other needs that may have been over looked at the event.  We then compared each application to its respective states rules of application, an example is that some states will return an application if the applicant's name is not present on the money order or check provided by IDignity.  By the end of the meeting, we had proofed every application.

As each week with this event, there was one moment that truly stood out.  Through out the week I continued working on the application packets, since most other volunteers can only come once a week.  Since this is my first time working through this process, I forgot a piece of the packets, luckily Lisa makes sure to review my work pretty quickly.  I had to file through applications and add a few documents.  Being my normal overly-cautious self / curious self, I looked through each one carefully, even if they didn't match my criteria. Somehow I found an application whose ID was about to expire in so short a time, if we did not send it soon, it would more than likely be sent back to us.  If it were sent back, we would not only have to track down the client, but find a time and place for the lawyer to meet her/him for representation paperwork (States will allow a lawyer to file for an individual, so long as the individual has signed the agreement).

After several calls to get the go ahead, we were able to expedite the application, in hopes to have it delivered before the expiration of the ID.  Godspeed to it.  I guess I should stop focusing so hard on the negative aspect of my mistakes, and see how they, ironically, push me to where I need to be to make a positive impact.

Looking forward to continuing to work with my site in the fall and getting back into the structure of academic life! This has been one crazy summer.

VFCCH IDignity Volusia Event!! (Week of August 4-8)

This week was the nitty-gritty for the inaugural event for IDignity Volusia.  VFCCH has done IDignity DeLand for the past 3-4 years, but never hosted one in Daytona Beach. On Sunday we got together to have a last meeting to discuss placements and responsibilities.  Sarah-Michelle and I were to work as guides and helping clients fill out the cumbersome applications for non-Florida birth certificates.

The day of the event was really exciting.  Both Clients and Volunteers were ecstatic.  It was nerve wracking for me, since I was one of the newbies, but there were moments that made all the nerves worth it.  The individual I wrote about in my past post, was able to come to the event! I wasn't the one who got to present him with his Birth Certificate, but I was the one who found it, after a small fluke with the system.   He ended up being the story of the day.  I never got to meet the man, but Shelly, the lawyer who presented it to him, told me that he was extremely grateful that he finally existed again.  

Most of the event I helped clients fill out there applications or helped with various technological issues throughout the day.  Between myself and the AmeriCorps Vista, Liam, we were able to keep the technology running smoothly.  As I said earlier there was a technical glitch with the online system.

After the event, I got to sit and talk with my site supervisor, Lisa Hamilton.  She told me that the event is the easy part, and that the hard part is advocating for the clients when we send in applications. Sometimes the applications are sent back to us, forcing us to track down the client and reapply.  That is the real hard part, she said, finding the person, and telling them that the process has to start again.

Lisa and I discussed my future role in IDignity events, and decided I would not only work at the events, but help the team who researches state information, contacts clients, and conducts the after-event application process for documents.  We will be having the first work-group session on August 12th.  Looking forward to it!  

Monday, August 11, 2014

VFCCH IDignity (Behind the Scenes)

Last Week (Week of 7/28),

I was able to sit in with a group of volunteers who work behind the scenes to help get birth certificates for IDignity Clients.  They taught me how the Out of State Birth Certificate process works, and showed me some of the work that goes on in between IDignity events. It was really humbling to see the amount of work these individuals do along with their normal full time jobs.

After working with the volunteers to help file for client birth certificates, I was able to call past clients and set up a time for them to pick up their birth certificates at the Neighborhood Center.  Several clients were unable to be contacted directly, but were persistent and called our office as soon as they heard about the event in Daytona Beach.

The most touching moment of my summer so far, was when a elderly man from a past event called regarding the identification he filed for.  When he heard that his information was on file, and he could receive it at the next event, he was ecstatic.

 The man's voice began to crack and he said, " It's going to feel so good... I can't believe I am a person again...I exist. Thank you so much, God bless you all..It has been so long..."

I didn't know how to respond.  All I could get out was, " Thank you sir, we look forward to seeing you at the event."

As soon as the call ended, I looked at Barb, giving her a summary of what happened. Then I said, " He was making me tear up. Usually I get someone frustrated about how it's taking us too long and I have to keep from getting frustrated. Now I have someone making me tear up, how am I supposed to react to this?"

She just smiled and said " You just let it happen and stay calm.  You can be happy, but try to finish up before you get too emotional."

I am pretty sure that this was one of those moments, that makes it all worth it.  All the stress of the service we do, the bad days, the hard classes. All that "rough time" for one moment like this.  It's worth it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Flagler Schools Summer Camp Reflection

Unfortunately, in my final week, I am unable to finish off the summer as I've been diagnosed with Streph throat and am highly contagious. Sitting at home these past few days has made me really nostalgic and for these past few years I've been a counselor. I know that many of my kids will not remember me, as I barely remember my counselors from my times at camp, but I know I'll remember these three summers until I'm old and grey. When I regale with fellow counselors about previous summers, we have dozens of stories and can remember all of the kids' exact names in telling them. This summer was especially impactful because it's the last time I'll work here, so I think I unconsciously tried to take it all in as much as possible. 

Of course I had favorite kids, my little helpers, who would always drop whatever they were doing to help me with something, the kids who always came to camp eager. But even my more challenging kids, those who obviously aren't given too much structure or attention at home, will linger. Sweet moments with my rudest kids who let down their walls for just a minute to cry or help another kid - that's how I know my work matters. When my kids step outside their image just for a second to be kind and courteous to each other, that's why I work at camp. Seeing children who come into camp with no social skills or any semblance of how to be a student exit camp an old pro at navigating hallways, going through the lunch lines, playing with other kids, etc. 

I've learned a lot this summer, primarily about my communication skills. Not only with the kids, but with my coworkers. I honestly, consciously, worked really hard this summer to make sure that the instructions I gave were clear and that those around me knew the expectations. I made sure to break the protocol for bus riding or visiting the pool into smaller steps for the kids to understand, and I tried to make myself and my choices as transparent as possible for our newer counselors so they could learn from me. I think in the case of Justin and Leana, this was really helpful. Leana was often confused about protocol and I think I helped clear a lot of simple confusion up for her. Justin, however, had not a drop of knowledge about kids when he came in. I think if I hadn't been by his side those first two weeks, he would have been in much hotter water than he ended up in. 

Overall, this summer returned a lot of confidence to me. It showed me that I can command a room and effectively lead a group of people, even if they're only five. It also reminded me that I am creative, which is a trait I often forget. I also felt confident in the parenting of kids in Flagler County. In Bonner we often talk about underprivileged youth who are ignored by their families and left behind in school, and while this camp is just under $100 per week to attend, we usually always have quite a few kids who exhibit those signs of not very much attention at home. Wealth does not always equate to an attentive parent. I am really pleased to say we only had, in my experience, I didn't see a lot of those kids. I saw kids who became knowledgable, but who were kind, played well, and didn't come to camp for attention. I read an interesting quote the other day, which read, "Children who are loved at home come to school to learn, children who don't come to school for love." I immediately understood. With this in mind, I think I successfully tried to love all of my kids as much as I could, and reaped those benefits in the form of kids who changed significantly from the time before they were in my care. 

This was an incredible last summer at camp, and it am so blessed and grateful to have been here. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Honor Baslim - Week 5

Hey people,

So this week was the week of Fourth of July so I didn't volunteer on Friday, but still had plenty to do before and after the 4th. Things for the most part were pretty low key this week - though I did meet Diane Keaton (she saved a dog and brought it to our adoption center) she pretty much looks exactly like that --->

We also are having some issues with one of our horses, Spurs. The instructors ride each of the horses on lesson days, however they've all been having it be very uncomfortable to ride Spurs. What this tells us is that their is something wrong with the horses gate - much like humans if there is something wrong with the way that the horse walks it often can do more damage or be covering up a more serious issue with the animal. So we're going to arrange for one of the veterinarians that works at Helen Woodward to get on Spurs to feel it for herself since it's so difficult to explain. I'll let you know next week what she finds.

On Saturday, because it was so hot and we were still down one instructor we decided not to have formal lessons with all the hot leather tack that is typically involved. So we threw bareback pads on the horses and got out the giant soccer ball (as pictured below) and let the kids and horses go to town with various tasks and challenges.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Last week I continued my never ending quest of contacting possible volunteers and organizations in the Daytona Beach area for the August 7th IDignity Volusia event.  I also helped to obtain basic supplies necessary for each station that will be at the event, like the DMV and Legal teams.  I was extremely excited Friday morning, as I was able to attend one of the main planning meetings.  I met one of individuals who helped organize the original IDignity event that took place in Orlando in 2008!  The meeting was full of representatives from different non-profits.  It was really cool to see so many people working together to make this event happen.  I am looking forward to seeing the leadership team again Tuesday night for more planning.  

Mike the head of Community Outreach at the VFCCH has been able to secure a number of bus passes to help the clients who live in the areas surrounding Daytona Beach reach the event.  Local non-profits will disperse these bus passes to clients later this week.

I am really excited the event is coming soon, a lot of people have been waiting for it. Many  of people in the Daytona Beach area were not able to come to the last IDignity events in DeLand or Orlando because of transportation.  This will be the first time they will be able to benefit from its services.

Rehoboth Children's Home

Week  7

So this week was my last week at the home. It was pretty heart breaking to have to say bye to the kids. We spent a lot time together this week taking a lot of photos and playing soccer. I spent the last couple nights with the girls because the directors didn't want them to resent them for sending me to the boys' house. We made churros and watched movies. The boys drew me lots of pictures before I left. One of them decided to forgo playing soccer to stay with me while I helped the rest of the kids with their HW. They made me a goodbye cake and some of the kids cried which made me cry....lololol. I'm gonna miss these kids so much, I already know I need to come back.

On my last morning I took the kids to the bus stop for the last time and might have teared up a little bit.....Here's Walter & Oliver waiting for the bus (LOL @ Olly's face)

This week my office work consisted of making short promo videos for the Rehab Center in English and Spanish. I had to take pictures of the center and the men. There is so much work to do here. The only thing I have left to do for them is finish the website. This experience was trying at times but I wouldn't change a single thing.

See you all at Stetty!