Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dallas Day 4!

Today was officially our last full day in Dallas and I think I can speak for everyone when I say we willl definitely miss all this great city has to offer!  We did our usual volunteering at Bryan's House with groups rotating between classrooms and administrative details before all coming together to work on our Friday puppet show.  Certain students also had the chance to work with another organization today (AIDS Interfaith Network) where they served breakfast and lunch to those who were without homes and HIV+.  At our evening reflection, we focused a lot on the Public Affairs Mission of Missouri State University and how we can rise to meet the challenges it puts forth.  As students, we can't just sit back and wait for someone else to make the change.  Instead, it is up to us to take on the role of student leaders and encourage our peers to actively get involved in their community.

Here are some final thoughts from our group members:

Elizabeth Sivill:
As the trip is winding down,  the impact of this trip on my life is growing. Today, I worked on some administrative issues and then we practiced the performance for tomorrow. I am really excited to perform for the kids tomorrow, and I hope we make at least one child smile if they are having a rough day. I am so blessed to be on this trip. It's a privilege to be part of this organization and to be a Bear!!

Brandon Greathouse:
It's our last night here in Dallas, and really the only way to possibly sum this all up is "life changing".
Today some of us got the chance to play with the kids as a group, and it was the most fun I have had down here so far. One child's smile in particular changed everything for me. To see so much happiness and hope on the face of a child who could be very sick was motivational, inspriational and an absolute joy to be part of. Also I just want to say that this trip was one in a million. I was so blessed to be a part of the perfect team for this Dallas mission and that in the end there was no where else in the world that I would rather be. Each and everyone of the kids, Bryan's house workers, and trip members were the best that I could have possibly spent my spring break with. These memories will forever be with me.

Katie Jones:
Not to be cliche, but Brandon is right. This trip is one I won't be forgetting. We talked about what it means to serve, and all I can think about is how these people of Dallas have served me in ways that I could have never served them. They have opened my eyes to issues I wasn't very aware of, and I have loved each moment of this trip. Going to AIN/DAIRE today and serving food to some of the HIV/AIDS homeless population was such a humbling experience. The women, Kathy and Dede, were some of the most enthusiastic people I've met who truly love what they do. The clients that they work with are so happy to be there, and they are some of the nicest people I met in Dallas. Kathy, Dede, and their clients really inspired me to find a job where I could be that enthusiastic to jump out of bed and go to work. At Bryan's House I loved the moments where I was with the children. Being with one of the girls, and just giving her the attention she craved was an awesome experience. When I saw her with her big grin, it made me realize why I was here, and I definitely want to be able to be that attentive and caring outlet for other children when I go back to Springfield. This trip has been amazing.

Justina Snodgrass:
Wow....where to begin?! This trip has been a once-in-a-lifetime trip filled with life changing experiences, events, and smiles. Working at Bryan's House has been a joy-filled experience. The smiles that the children have shared with us, are worth more than any description could ever put a price tag on. I am sad that we have to leave tomorrow, but I will continue to cherish these kids throughout the rest of my life. Dancing like a crazy person with one girl in particular will be a moment that will never be forgotten. I cannot begin to express the joy that filled her face. This trip has put a drive on my heart to more faithfully serve the Springfield community; more walking the walk and talking the talk, instead of only one or the other. There is no reason not to after having experienced something as amazing as this trip and the people I have shared this experience with. Again, there is no way to perfectly summarize what we did during this week, but the passion behind every word and sentence that describes just a part of what we did will be a testimony as to how impactful this was on not only my life, but the lives of everyone else. I can't wait to do something like this again. This past week has been great.

Tess Hoehn:
Tonight is our last night in Dallas. Reflecting on the fun experiences and people we met clarified I made the right decision to come on the trip. Today at Bryan's House I was able to play with a group of children. This was one of my favorite moments of the trip because the expressions on their faces said everything. From giving the children piggy back rides to racing them with trucks, I was able to see the impact we are making on the children. Overall, this experience has been life changing, because I was able to see that although it may not seem like we are impacting the entire HIV and Aids community we are definitely making a huge impact on every childs life that we interact with. This trip has taught me so much about myself, community service, HIV/AIDS, and children. I have never been so confident in any other decisions I have made and I am so glad to be representing Missouri State at the same time.

Francis Ahrens:
What a trip! It has been such an amazing experience being able to work with the kids and helping Bryan's House administratively. Instead of reflecting on what I did today, I'm just going to reflect on my overall thoughts. I know I made a difference, but these kids made an even bigger difference in my life. They have given me such a different outlook on life. When working with them, I never realized that they had a special need. Rather, I looked at them as individuals who were free-spirited, carefree, and young. Thanks to them, I look at life as an opportunity to always do more, be a better person, and always be on the lookout for ways to serve the community. Ending words: BEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE! :)

Brett McKnight (Trip Advisor):
Definitely this trip has made a lasting impression on my life, along with those students I traveled with, many whom I would now call friends.  Missouri State University has "Follow Your Passion, Find Your Place" everywhere...I think I finally can truly say that I have found my place, among college students who are actively engaged and committed to creating positive change.  My passion?  Other than these students, my passion is for serving others in any capacity.  This trip has truly made me realize my passion, my place, and above all, my purpose.  My committment?  To put others first and myself second. PEACE!

Sara Woodman
I had an awesome day, and the whole trip has been a wonderful experience. Like everyone else on this trip, I feel blessed to have been a part of this outreach and to have interacted with the wonderful kids and staff at Bryan's House. This trip has highlighted the importance of being involved and the difference that can be made when everyone works together. As the saying goes, "individually we are just a drop, but together we are an ocean." I am privileged to be a drop in the ocean of making a difference. I love the impact we have made at Bryan's House in just one week and am excited to see what we can do as we continue to serve back in Springfield. This is definitely an experience I look forward to repeating in the future.

Alex Johnson (Trip Advisor)
This trip to Dallas has been filled with life-changing experiences for me, and hopefully for the students who volunteered their time and abilities.  Because of this trip, I have gained a whole new perspective on the importance of service.  Each second to these children at Bryan's House counts, and we are blessed to have shared hours in their company.  Today, I ran around the playground with a 3-year-old self-proclaimed Power Ranger.  We had a blast going down the slide and "fighting crime." It hit me then that these children, no matter their condition, are simply being kids -- happy as ever.  Hopefully, our impact on Bryan's House can measure up to the impact its mission, goals, and kids have had on us.  What now? We will come back to Springfield, MO as inspired leaders dedicated to making a difference.

Alex King
Spring break can be a great time to rest your mind from academics; I could not be more content with my decision to spend my week off of school in Dallas working with an organization benefiting kids. Bringing a smile to someone else's face is a constant effort of mine and to see genuine happiness in these kids that I am hanging out with is an awesome feeling. All the work done this week benefited Bryan's House and it feels great knowing that we got a lot of stuff done for them and were able to be a part of these kids' lives. I am definitely going to be doing this again and will be trying to get other people to experience service.

Spencer Trower:
It has been a privilege to go on this trip to serve an excellent organization with a great group of people!

Aubrey Snedeker (Trip Leader):
At the Caire Center/AIN Katie, Brett, and I served breakfast and lunch to the homeless HIV postive individuals. It was such a wonderful experience and I would go back in a heart beat to work with the organization again. This experience made me realize what kind of organization I want to do service work back in Springfield. I am so excited to get back and tell all what I have encountered, learned, and start serving in similar organizations.

It has truly been an honor to work with this incredible group of students!  I couldn't have asked for a more inspiring and enouraging group of students!  I am blown away by their dedication to the cause and their willingness to spend their spring break serving others.  I look forward to seeing all the work they will achieve during their time at Missouri State University and beyond!  Watch out world, big things are coming!
   -Kelly Mazzoni (Trip Leader)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dallas Day 3!

Today was another great day full of fun and reflection!  We changed pace a little bit this morning and actually got to sleep in before heading to downtown Dallas for some exploring and adventure.  We travelled on the trolley and visisted several museums, including the Dallas Museum of Art and the Sixth Floor Museum (about the assassination of President Kennedy).  I think the group really got a lot out of the experience of exploring the culture of Dallas and Kennedy's legacy of change and that definitely showed through in our evening reflection.  We discussed some of the tough issues facing the kids at Bryan's House (financial, medical, social), what their future holds, and the ways in which we can improve on what is already being done.

Here are some thoughts on reflection in everyone's own words:

Katie Jones
Today's reflection really touched me. We were talking about how the children of Bryan's House will most likely end up if they stay with the organization, and then we talked about how we can apply what we have learned when we went back home. These kids, if they get the opportunity to stay with Bryan's House, will have such a better life than if they were thrown back into a school/daycare that didn't understand what they were going through. I think Bryan's House gives them the attention that they need. Going back to Springfield, I really want to give back and work with the kids at Boys and Girls Town and with The Child Advocacy Center. Springfield has the biggest population of children who are abused in Missouri, and if I could be a person to just give one child attention and love, I feel like I would really be giving back.

Mandy Squires
I really enjoyed today's reflection because it helped me to put into perspective everything that we have been doing this week. For example, it made me think about more about the future of the kids that we have been working with and what their lives will look like. Also, this session helped me to draw some comparisons between Dallas and my home town of Kansas City, which helped me to realize that problems like this exist everywhere and that there is a lot I can do to continue to help after I go home.

Sara Woodman
We had a lot of fun today exploring Dallas. We discussed our observations during reflection. We considered the demographics and culture of Springfield compared to that of Dallas and talked about our experiences in each city, as well as the problems that we have encountered in each place, the organizations we know of that are working to solve those problems, and what we can do to serve. I realized on a deeper level how blessed I am and I am more committed to serving and being an active citizen.

Alex King
The off-day for the Alternative Spring Break was a good rest from doing service with Bryan's House, yet we were still able to apply our experience of exploring Dallas to the issues we are here to address.

Aubrey Snedeker (Trip Leader)
Today was our day off to adventure and learn about the culture. We noticed as a group that Dallas down town can relate to Bryan's House in several ways but also differs in others. We noticed that downtown was very diverse in all aspects and Bryan's House as a whole shows different cultures, ethnicity, and social class as well. In reflection we talked about how we think Bryan's House will effect the children when they are our age and about what we can do in the future to still serve with Bryan's House.

Justina Snodgrass
Exploring Dallas was a great experience. Between the trolley rides, museums, and dinner out, there was a line that could be drawn between downtown Dallas and Bryan's House. But, there was also a disconnection between here in Dallas and the awareness of Bryan's House and the awareness of the same area of interest in the Springfield area. We are definitely more connected and willing to help and excited to help in Springfield, than the people down here it feels like. I am excited to continue serving this community, but also look forward to continuing to serve the amazing area around MSU's campus in Springfield.

Francis Ahrens
Having the chance to tour Dallas was a lot of fun. The main thing that I have to reflect on is how we can impact the Springfield community. I think that since Bryan's House primarily helps children with HIV/AIDS, we can continue to serve by thinking of them during HIV/AIDS awareness month next year and do some event where we either collect donations or fundraise money for Bryan's House. Even though we're serving now, it doesn't mean we need to stop serving after we have left.

Tess Hoehn
Touring Dallas today was a very eye opening experience. We rode on the trolley and met many people from Dallas. Many people in the city didn't know anything about Bryan's House. It was nice to know we were educating the community about Bryan's House and what they do. Also representing Missouri State, by wearing our "bear wear" was a nice way to show we are proud of what we are doing. Touring Dallas and working with Bryan's House has inspired me to want to get more involved in community service throughout Springfield and the rest of Missouri.

Elizabeth Sivill
My favorite part of today was was going to the 6th Floor Museum. It was really emotional going through the museum looking at the life of President John F. Kennedy. One of the hardest parts for me was seeing the saddness in the First Lady's face. Also, when the coffin passed by the family, President Kennedy's son stepped forward and saluted his father. It's hard to think about how one action can impact the life of a family and a nation. Leaving the museum, I felt a sense of patriotism. Reflecting on past events such as 9/11 and Sandy Hook, it is kind of sad that an act of unpatriotism can make millions feel patriotic.  It was a humbling experience that I feel blessed to be able to witness. Additionally, I enjoyed leading our group in the MSU fight song today on the trolley. The fight song always puts a smile on my face, and I hope the people on the trolley enjoyed it too. As always, I am proud to be a bear!!!!!

Brett McKnight (Trip Advisor)
What I noticed the most (other than the beautiful Dallas downtown West Village and West End), was the sharp contrast in socio-economic status and race/ethnicity of the people we passed downtown and those kids and their families at Bryan's House.  The children at Bryan's house represent two distinct minority populations...evident when serving in the classrooms, and even among the employees.  Most are African American and Hispanic/Latino/Latina.  Most of the people we encountered on the trolley and in the fashion and financial districts were probably upper-middle class, and predominately white.  Many were mothers with small children, who don't work (I heard several groups of moms talking of visiting their husbands at work in one of the skyscrapers downtown).  Also evident was that there was a public school fallen into disrepair...smack dab in the middle of newly renovated, urban, and bustling downtown Dallas.  Throughout the day, these sharp contrasts stuck in my mind and I wonder if the citizens of Dallas are always conscious of these their socio-economic/class differences....and if the kids at Bryan's house are aware of ignorance always bliss?

Alex Johnson (Trip Advisor)
Our travels through Dallas today gave us a chance to experience the city first-hand and mingle with the people.  But seeing the sights was not and has not been what makes this Spring Break experience impactful -- it's the reflections and lessons we bring back to our group, to Bryan's House, and soon to the Springfield community.  Learning about JFK at the Sixth Floor Museum really impacted me and inspires me to strive to make change.  As young adults, we have the power to address social justice issues, both those impacting Dallas and Springfield.  Change is why we are here.  Many of John F. Kennedy's initiatives were striving for change on a national and global level.  As we reflected tonight, we focused on the power we have to change anything we want, whether it be the attitudes of children and families  affected by HIV/AIDS or any number of issues facing the world today.  I can sleep tonight feeling inspired and confident in the passionate students we have in our Dallas group. 

Brandon Greathouse
Today we dove into the city of Dallas leaving no stone unturned as we visited various memorable museums, and I can genuinely render that this was the most warm, inviting and family oriented city I have ever had the priviledge to share my presence with (such a dignified city and group of citizens!!) :)

Spencer Trower
Today we explored downtown Dallas and I have never seen a city so family oriented. It also gave me a better idea of the culture the kids at Bryan's House grow up in, which will in return help me help them.

As you can see, our group is really diving into the issue of child welfare and HIV/AIDS.  'Change' was definitely the theme of the day and something we will be focusing on the rest of the trip.  I'm proud of how far they've come since the first night of discussion and I am excited to hear what everyone has to offer at tomorrow's reflection!

Goodnight from Dallas!
-Kelly Mazzoni (Trip Leader)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dallas Day 2!

Greetings from Dallas! 

Another great day in the Lone Star state!  We had an early morning and then headed off to Bryan's House for another full day of work.  We began with a read through of our script for our puppet show (Lyle, Lyle Crocodile) for the kids on Friday.  This is sure to be an Oscar-winning performance with a rock star cast!  Next, a group of us worked on the set design for the play while others headed to classrooms to play with the kids.  After lunch it was back to work where we finished up the final touches on our play, organized some supplies, and continued to plow through some databases. 

Here are some thoughts from the day:

Alex King: Today I worked with the 3-5 year old age group and really enjoyed their excitement of drawing pancakes and fruit salad. My favorite moment was when the kids starting fighting over who I was best friends with meeting them five minutes prior. The kids are sweet and I enjoyed being a part of their day.

Katie Jones: Today I worked mostly doing data transfer and helping with the puppet show. I'm quite impressed by the awesome ingenuity we used to make Barbie dolls into old grumpy men. I really appreciated how much effort the people do at Bryan's House doing the data analysis. Today we went through 8.5 pages of the 39 that started with 'A', and it just put into perspective how much time it would take for a single person to do so.

Francis Ahrens: It has been such a great couple of days in Dallas. Although I did not work with the children today, I was able to help in other ways. For the most part, I put in information into the database. It may not seem like a whole lot, but it was because of the fact we were still helping Bryan's House. I also had a lot of fun making the dolls for our play. I'm definitely looking forward to our final two days of service at Bryan's House! :)

Aubrey Snedeker (trip leader): Our second day of service it went really well. We all got to work with the children as of now. I worked in room of 5-10 year olds. They were so adorable and very accepting of the children with physical and mental disabilities. It was truly nice to see how at a young age the kids were already learning to treat other with respect and all the same, no matter what they had working against them in this world. Overall it was a wonderful day.

Our day ended with a some reflection where we discussed 'The Star Fish Story.'  In this story, an old man notices a young kid throwing star fish back into the ocean as the tide is going out.  When the old man questions the young child about how insignificant his impact can be since there are so many starfish along the beach, the young man throws another one in and replies, "It made a difference to that one."  We reflected how our work at Bryan's House is similar in the sense that even though we can't solve the entire HIV/AIDS and child welfare problem, we can make a huge different in the life of one child.  We summed it up in the famous quote: "To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you might be the world."

The group is currently huddled around a table in one of our hotel rooms, playing a surprisingly intense game of Catch Phrase.  This is really an amazing group of students and I couldn't have asked for a better spring break trip!

Good night again from Dallas! 
--Kelly (trip leader)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Day 1 in Dallas!

Hey everyone! Trip Leader Kelly here!  Today was our first full day in Dallas and it was incredible!  We had to wake up early (I'm proud to say everyone made it!) and then head to our service site, Bryan's House.  It was a full day of playing with kids, planning a puppet show for Friday, and catching up on some paperwork.  It's definitely been an interesting trip and the Dallas traffic has made for an exciting commute.  Several U-turns later, we have coined a new expression: "Half the fun is not getting there!"I am so proud of the amazing group of people we brought on this trip and I am so glad they made the decision to spend spring break with Bear Breaks!   Never a dull moment with Team Dallas!  Looking forward to whatever the rest of the week holds!

Here's a little bit about what everyone was up to today:

Elizabeth Sivill: Today, I spent most of the time working on transferring donation information to a different database. The workers at Bryan's house are so helpful, and you can tell they really have a passion for the organization. I hope to serve these children and the staff of Bryan's House more during the week in order to make a difference in the lives of the children. Proud to be representing the Bears!

Tess Hoehn: I started the day by making props for the play we are putting on for the kids on Friday. Then, I helped fold and mail brochures for Bryan's House. It is really good to be helping Bryan's House in any way I can. I am already so glad I decided to come on the trip, and so blessed Missouri State gave me this opportunity. I am excited to see what the following days have in store and can only imagine it will get better and better.

Justina Snodgrass: I started off the morning making different scene props for a play we are putting on at the end of the week for the children. That afternoon, I got to work in the nursery. The babies were adorable and loved getting the even included some crazy dancing. I am so excited to continue to being a part of Bryan's House and working with these wonderful children!

Mandy Squires: Today, I spend most of my time working on props for a puppet show to perform for the kids at Bryan's House on Friday. Then I helped to stuff pamphlets to send out to supporters of Bryan's House. I did not get to work with any of the kids today, but I am looking forward to getting to spend some time with them later this week.

Alex Johnson (Trip Advisor): What an incredible experience it has been thus far. We have already experienced some Dallas culture (including some highways and traffic that make Springfield seem tiny).  It is such a privilege to spend Spring Break 2013 with such dedicated Missouri State students and to work alongside Bryan's House, an organization that is doing so much good for the community.  Today, I was able to meet ecstatic 3-5 year olds who wanted to play all much energy!  I also had a hand in the setup of our Lyle, Lyle Crocodile production -- we will rock it!

Brandon Greathouse: My first day at Bryan's House was so much fun! The kids were so energetic but it was a blast! I worked in a class room with inspirational kids aged 5-8.

Brett McKnight (Trip Advisor): Today I really got to experience what it was like to be a kid again. 
I forgot that a little construction paper, some scissors, glue, and crayons can go a long way!  In addition to working on the "set" of our puppet-show production, Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, I had the privildege of co-writing the script for the "production" as well as do some laundry for the kids rooms.  Serving can mean different things to different people, its all about the attitude you have when you begin.  I'm excited to see where the rest of the week takes us, and what all we can do for this awesome organization!

Spencer Trower: It has only been one day at Bryan's House and I have already learned a lot. It really makes you realize how blessed you are to be perfectly healthy. Today I started off by helping transfer information about donors and volunteers from one database to another. It was a service that is different but something that needs to be done. In the afternoon I got to play with some two year olds. They had so much energy and were a blast to be around. Overall, it was an extremely rewarding day! 

As you can see, this has been one hard working group and I couldn't be more excited to continue working with such a dedicated students!  Good night from Dallas!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Todays the day!

We leave to go to Dallas today. It will be an amazing trip! We have done several bonding activities as a group and from those I know our group can work well together and accomplish great things. There are tons for us to learn in from Bryan's House and service work. Therefore bring on the trip and here we go!

Friday, March 8, 2013

2 days till we go!

So we just had our last meeting before we leave on Sunday to Dallas. It went well and I can tell we have a great group. I am so excited for our Immersion Trip and to work with the kids!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Service is what we do!

Hey everyone!
I am looking forward to our trip in Dallas working with Bryan's House. They offer services including  child care programs, family services, and off site-child care. I know we can learn so much from this experience, make a major difference in the children's lives and each others. It will be a great trip! Oh and here is their mission statement.

The mission of Bryan's House is to respond to the needs of children and their families by providing medically managed child care, respite care, and community-based, family-centered support services.