Pulling into Washington D.C. at 7:30 a.m., two hours earlier than we had expected something hit me. It wasn’t the stale car smell from being in the car since 10 p.m. It wasn’t everyone commenting on the amount of seafood restaurants, which is odd. What hit me was the fact that I was a site leader for this break. My co-site leader and I had the power to, in theory, make or break this break. Looking back, I realize how dramatic I was but at the time I could feel the pressure. During my 2015 spring break, I spent my time leading along side another amazing Central Michigan University student (she’s the princess of CMU). We traveled down to Washington D.C. with a group of 9 students. The mission of our week was to work along side the Beacon House staff.
The Beacon House is a nonprofit, community-based organization that provides tutoring, mentoring, cultural, athletic, recreation, and nutrition programs to at-risk, low-income children, ages 5-18, who reside in and around the Edgewood Commons community in Ward 5 of Washington, D.C. This mission is to assist at-risk youth to identify and pursue educational objectives that culminate in college or vocational training, and, more generally, to prepare them for productive involvement in their community and society. Since 1991, when Beacon House was founded, their goal has always been to lift as many children as possible up and out of their often difficult circumstances.
During the first half of the day we helped clean and organized the facility in preparation for their Black History Month celebration. The Black History Month celebration had been postponed due to weather. The second half of the day we spent with the kids. We did homework, read and hung out. These were some of the sweetest and most interesting students I have ever met.
October 20th kicked off Character Counts Week 2014. This is a program more recently adopted by Tri Sigma. My plan for this program was to “blow up social media.” I planned a competition within my sorority so that if we educated ourselves first, we could prepare to educate others in the future. I worked with a committee of six to collect the pictures and data from each day.
Point break down
I believe this week was meaningful. Yes it was a competition, but it got everyone involved. We reached over 100 pictures tagged with #SigmaPayItForwardCMU on Instragram and even more between Twitter and Facebook. Everyone in my committee was given a word and then planned a picture or post that went along with it. This helped to disperse work amongst us. They came up with ideas and pitched it which I believe helped to get the entire chapter involved. Day 1 focused on responsibility. We had everyone focus on their future because we are responsible for it. We also incorporated responsible role models. On Day 2 the focus was on the Golden Rule and/or respect. People posted about friends, family, etc. who they believe live by the Golden Rule or pictures that they felt were examples of it. The focus for Day 3 was trustworthiness. We all gathered at the house for “Sigma Time” our usual Wednesday night get together to do a trust activity. Kelsey facilitated a partner activity where your partner had to describe to you a drawing while you drew it without seeing the picture. Day 4 we incorporated the Sigma Pay It Forward Cards. Sisters had to pass them out and take a picture as the cards went around campus. Other people on campus posted pictures which was really cool. Day 5‘s focus was caring. Sisters called, emailed, sent a text message, etc. to someone they care about then posted it to social media. On Day 6 people posted about citizenship whether it be volunteering, voting, or their first time for jury duty.
I look forward to next year’s Character Counts Week because I believe we will be able to spread this to the Greek community and possibly the CMU community.
Below are some pictures from our chapter using #SigmaPayItForwardCMU.
The Alternative Break program is one of the most awarding programs I have been blessed to be a piece of. I was lucky enough to click on ‘Youth Advocacy’ at 7:30 am back in October of 2013. The break didn’t set sail until March of 2014. Not only did I pick a topic that interested me, I also met 11 other amazing CMU students. During the week we worked at the Charleston Youth Development Center. The CYDC is an emergency shelter that takes in children who need a place to stay. Children are then either returned to their families through social service intervention or are able to stay at the shelter. We spent a week organizing their storage center while the children were at school. When the children came home was when the real fun started. We tutored the students until dinner time. Tutoring usually consisted of racing to finish homework so we could hang out. We sat around laughing, learning about them and just enjoying the children’s company. If you have the opportunity to give back to the world, I suggest you do it.