Monday, June 29, 2009

Fun and Games on Barton Road

Last week the SummerCorps ended out time at Seafarers' Friend. It was a challenging week and tension was high as we worked through the difficulties in creating a new website. We ended on a good note and completed a solid portion of the new site which will contain a calander, slide show, and updated information. We did not figure out how to create a message board but we are hope that Seafarers' Friend will find a IT volunteer soon to get them 100% on track.

After making the long haul to Chelsea everyday and learning all of the creative ways that the GPS could find to get us there we were all very happy to only travel a 5 minute drive to the Wellesley, MA Housing Authority Community Center on Barton Road. This community center is close to my heart because I have been going there for the past two years helping with homework and after school games. It was great to see some old faces today and reconnect with the kids. At first we did not have any antendees but after walking around the neighborhood and making our presence known, kids started to show up. I am looking forward to tomorrow and hope that more kids will come.

Lesson of the Day: Even if you bring it, doesn't mean they will come. The people you are reaching out to aren't always going to come running, most often you are going to have to get out and find them. So start looking!

On a personal note...good luck Uncle Jim, I will be thinking of you!!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Still Learning

Today Martika will give her perspective on the days events, enjoy.....

So we started off today on the wrong foot by being incredibly late because of one of our dearest members! I will not mention any names but our morning consisted of taking a side route to go pick up this special person and then getting back on track to get to Chelsea. Once we accomplished this obstacle, we were able to get back to work on the website that we have been working on all week. Since I was not present yesterday, I was brought up to date on the new program that was being used and what had been done so far. The website was really coming along but there was still a lot to be done. My first assignment included going through what was done of the website so far and making sure all the links were functional and there were no grammatical errors. This took quite a while because there were so many links and so many little details that needed to be looked at. As I was going through each an every page, I was sure to write down what needed to be fixed so that we could go back and fix them later. After about an hour or so of doing this task, I moved on to doing some research on how to get a better calendar on the page. The one we had originally was very simple and required the chaplains to go through and type in each and every event that would be occurring. We did not want to add this extra stress to their load so we thought it would be nice to add a more advance calendar that would be easier for them. I did some research and was able to find that you can put an outlook calendar on a website so that’s what we decided to do. Much better! Then we spent the rest of the day working on the content and making sure we had everything that was desired on the new website. Despite all the hard work that we put in today, there is still a lot to be done and I can’t wait to see what can be accomplished by the end of tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Do You Have IT?

And by IT I mean Information Technology, or better yet, information about technology. If you do we are in need of your help! Today was a difficult day for the whole team as we all tried to master Front Page for the first time and create a new website for Seafarer's Friend. I know for many of you this may seem like a canoe trip downstream but for us it was like sailing with no wind.

Hopefully, by the end of the week we can get that anchor up and launch the new Seafarer's Friend site, in the meantime if you know anything about building a site on Front Page please let us know.

Good thing my team is full of patience and perseverance otherwise we would certainly be kicked overboard.

(Alright I will stop with the boat metaphors)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Seafarer or Sea Fellow?

All aboard the Bernon Van!

Destination: Seafarer's Friends in Chelsea, MA.

The Organization Break Down:

Seafarer's Friends is a non-profit organization that provides transportation, communication to families and someone to talk to for all of the men aboard ships that port in Boston, Portland and Portsmouth. Many of these men have been out at sea away from their families anywhere from a few months to a year. Chaplains that run the SeaFarer's Friends program are able to provide services of convienence such as a ride to the nearest grocery store or shopping mall as well as conversation and stress releif for the many difficult situations that Seafarers go through, such as seperation from loved ones, lack of communication to home, fear or encounters to pirates and many more frightenting or stressful unknowns of the sea.

To shake things up a bit Shu Yang will be describing his view on how our day went:

My name is Shu Yang. I am a member of Babson College SummerCorps. I, Samantha, Tinu, and Amy Z. worked with an Christain Affilated Organization named Seafarer's Friend. Seafarer's Friend is an organization hresponsible for fufilling seamen's spiritual needs and doing tasks such as selling phone cards and sim cards to the ship crew. Amy and I boarded a ship while the Tinu and Samantha took a tour with an habor tour with a Seafarer's Friend's employee went by the first name Henry. The crew memebrs on board consisted mostly Philopinos and two Greekmen. They seemed very Friendly. I helped a Seafarer's employee Bryan selling phone cards and sim cards to the some of the crew. The day ended by the Babson College Summer Corpse members trying to help set up a website for Seafarer's Friend.

Thanks Shu! Hopefully today will be just as interesting!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Still Shining

Long Time No Blog
It has been one week of fun, exhaustion and heartwarming memories. Our second week of SummerCorps has come to a conclusion and none of us could have predicted just how special the past week has been. The crew, Tinu, Shu, Amy Z. and I (along with alumni Marissa Ferber) traveled to Camp Sunshine in Casco, Maine last Sunday for Retinoblastoma week. Normally, I would have kept you all updated daily, however, camp is no place for wireless internet access, nor did any of us have the energy to go to the computer lab at the end of the day so I will attempt to re-cap the whole week in the one blog. Just a warning, it may be long but in no way will it be able to truly capture the moment, therefore I highly suggest you sign up to become a volunteer at Camp Sunshine to get the full effect:

What is Camp Sunshine? – The Organization Break Down
Camp Sunshine is a place for families who have children with life threatening illnesses to be silly, reconnect and get support. The program is devoted to the whole family, including the child with the illness, their siblings and their parents. The camp works around weeklong sessions devoted to different illnesses (for example, this past week was dedicated to children with Retinoblastoma) creating a common bond between each family that is there. There are suite accommodations on site, meals provided, a pool, water front access to Sebago Lake (kayaks, paddle boats and canoes included), 9 hole mini golf, a rock climbing wall, a tree top challenge course, and plenty of activities and fun for the whole family to enjoy.

The program provides different activities for each age group attending the camp including the adults (who were certainly louder than the Tots might I add). From 9am-Noon and then from 1 or 2pm until 5pm each child and parent are signed into their respective group based on age where volunteers lead group activities, arts and crafts and plain old fun times. The families regroup for meals together and a night there are shows, dances and camp songs.

The camp Sunshine seems to have thought of everything to make these families relaxed and taken care of, with plenty of things to do, place to relax and time to be together and get to know new people who are in similar situations. The staff kept the camp running smoothly without a hint of stress or agitation and the tone of the whole experience was calm and welcoming.

Although there are some staff members, most of the people who run the camp are the volunteers, in fact, during our week there were over one hundred volunteers. Volunteers at Camp Sunshine stay on site as well in similar suites to the families and are appointed the responsibility of leading activities and caring for the families. The volunteers are also given three meals a day along with the families and access to all of the fun things that the families are (we were actually encouraged to use them with the families!).

What is Retinoblastoma?
Retinoblastoma is a childhood cancer located in the eye. Although it may be treated with chemo therapy most often the affected eye is taken out completely to avoid the spreading of the cancer. It is most common is young children and has the highest survival rate of all childhood cancers in developed countries. However, in underdeveloped countries the survival rate is quite low. The cancer can happen in one or both eyes and can lead to complete blindness of the child. During the orientation the on-site doctor spoke to all of the volunteers about retinoblastoma and after explaining the medical facts he asked us all what we liked to do as a child and then had us reflect on how we would have to adapt to those favorite things if we were blind. This exercise gave us all an opportunity to think from the child’s perspective. To get a better idea about what retinoblastoma really is go to:

So What Did We Do All Week? – The Experience Break Down

First and Foremost, Getting there:
This won’t take long to explain…I drove, there was a lot of rain, white knuckles all the way there…sorry group!!!!!! But we made it safely (a mere 15 minutes late) and no one got car sick.

Our Tasks:
After completing orientation each of us were assigned our task for the week. Tinu, Shu and Amy Z. were assigned to food service, meaning they helped to prepare and distribute each much needed and deeply appreciated meal.

Here is a quote from Amy Z. about her time in the kitchen:
“Spending a week at Camp Sunshine was a very rewarding experience. I worked in food service for the week which consisted of helping to prep for the meal, serve the meal, and clean up afterwards three times a day. Our goal in food service was to provide the best possible eating experience for the families. The days were long and I had had never before realized how much work food service is, I have a new respect for the people who work in food service now. My favorite part of food service was the breaks that we had because they allowed me an opportunity to spend time with the campers. Overall working at Camp Sunshine was great and I cannot wait to go back.”

I was assigned to the tot lot with the 3-5 year olds that also accompanied the nursery with the infants. My goal was to keep noses cleaned, diapers fresh and tears dried. Each kid had their own personality and it was hard not to become attached to their carefree approach to life and fearless ambitions to jump father, swing higher, and run faster than their little bodies are capable of. They certainly kept all of the volunteer’s busy pulling wagons, coloring, building towers, knocking towers down, cleaning up blocks and chasing those go getters.

As a group we attended the talent show, the costume party and the celebration show. Shu performed the best salsa dancing I have ever witnessed with one of the older campers and we all sung out hearts out during the last song at Camp Sunshine (Tinu tried his best to keep the beat during the performances.)

It was one of those weeks I will always remember and I am looking forward to going again next year to see the families that come back. I highly suggest you take a trip to Sunshine camp and volunteer for a week.

Thank you Camp Sunshine for creating such a fun and welcoming place for families and volunteers alike!

Adventures to come:
Tomorrow we will be going to Seafarer’s Friends in Chelsea, MA – follow our adventures each day as we are back online!

Check out where we will be spending out 3rd week of SummerCorps at

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Team Lift and a Photo Shoot

Today is the fourth and final day of the Babson Consignment assignment of the SummerCorps. Tinu, Shu, Martika, Tazmun (the newest addition to the group) and I were up and ready to go early this morning to finish up this great project.

The first thing on our to do list was to move some more TVs, refrigerators and other items from across campus to the location of the project. Just picture 5 well intentioned young adults trying to heave a 50" television up two flights of stairs and down a hallway. Now, I am not talking about one of those thin flat screen TVs, these one's are the old school TVs with the iceberg attached to the screen. In other words these things weren't light. Somehow we all manged to pitch in and get them all safely to the car and then across campus.

Of course the new items we had moved need to be cleaned first and the boys really stepped up to help out with the Windex.

The Next step on our To Do list was to take a photo of each item so that they could be publicized and sold online. Everyone took their artful turn at photography. In the end the project turned out really well and I am sure that many of these items will be sold quickly. All of the donations will be up for sale in the Reynolds Campus Center during the fall semester. If you are in the market for a fridge, TV or Ab Lounge be sure to be on the look out for e-mails about pre-sales.

Our first SummerCorps assignment as now come to an end, and what a project it was. At first the room looked intimidating but in the end we cleaned, cleared and organized our hearts out. Thanks to the team for being great sports who tackled mold, mildew and behemoth televisions like no one I have ever seen.

Next week: Camp Sunshine, a whole week in Maine starting Sunday, stay tuned!

Tagging and Excel

Day Three on the Babson Consignment Project proved to be more thought provoking than previous days. Sorry for not blogging about it yesterday, living life is always more important that blogging about I right! Anyways, Tinu, Shu and I took on the task of documenting all 160 items donated to the Babson Consignment store. We made an excel spreadsheet and broke the items into groups, TVs, mini fridges, Furniture etc... after going through the entire room and documenting all of the items, we realized that we also needed to give them a we went back through one more time. Oh the life of SummerCorps. In the end we learned a few lessons about doing monotonous work as a team, here are the lessons:
  • One person has to speak at a time
  • Speak loudly and clearly
  • Always work from the top left to the bottom right (ALWAYS)
  • Never hurts to go over the work you did again
  • Ten minute breaks every hour are a must

We worked hard yesterday, even though the work wasn't that exciting we winded down with some palm reading by Shu and jammed out to some sweet salsa music. Looks like this project is coming along quite nicely.

Next Up: TV moving and Picture Taking (Its a good one!)