Tag Archives: Service

Special Olympics Winter Games 2017 (Service Learning)

Special Olympics Organization and Management: Class PES347

Video from SOMI ’17




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“Special Olympics is all about inclusion and respect,” said Lois Arnold during the opening ceremony of the 2017 Special Olympics Michigan Winter Games. I think that statement alone can summarize the values behind the athletics events, but also more importantly behind the whole organization. Another quote stands out to me that I saw as our class was preparing for the games at the Special Olympics office building, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” This was my first time having the privilege to serve with Special Olympics and I absolutely loved everything they stand for, I loved spending time with all of the incredible, talented, awesome athletes, and I loved being able to spend time in the beautiful snowy Traverse City for a week. I was assigned figure and speed skating, as well as ice bocce ball (special events outside at night). I loved helping with figure skating, setting up the rink, and cheering loudly (until I lost my voice) for the speed skaters.

Altogether I had the most amazing, fun time at the Winter Games. I learned so much about individuals with disabilities and I made some really great friends with the volunteers, athletes and the families of the athletes. I was able to spend a whole day at figure skating with Ms. Wheelchair Michigan, Jamie Spoore, and hear such interesting stories about her life that I will remember forever. The joy on the athlete’s faces during ceremonies and games refreshed my soul and warmed my heart. I am so thankful for this opportunity and I would absolutely volunteer with SOMI again.

Walk In Their Shoes – Jim Ziolkowski

Can One Person Change the World?

For LDR200, our latest assignment was to pick a person that is a leader in this world, that is at the state or national level. We were asked:

What behaviors or actions make this person a leader? Why are others motivated to follow him/her? What do you admire about their leadership? How has his/her leadership affected other? How has his/her leadership affected you?

As everyone was writing on the Obamas or Oprah, I couldn’t think of anyone I really really felt inspired my outlook on life, at that national level. I guess I was just trying to think of a politician or celebrity, but overlooked the regular people that are still leaders at that level. When I got thinking about that idea instead, I immediately thought of Jim Ziolkowski. I had read his book a year ago, and I honestly can say his book changed my life. His book was such an inspiration to me and although he isn’t famous, he is changing the world globally. I mean I guess you could call him semi famous because he wrote a national best-selling book. But anyways, his story is very cool and I would recommend going out and buying it RIGHT NOW! If you don’t, I’m sure you will after you read the rest of my blog post. So here ya go! I will be answering the the questions from my LDR200 class, along with telling you more random reasons I am obsessed with the book ‘Walk In Their Shoes.’

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I think that Jim Ziolkowski is the definition of a leader. If you ask me, leadership is serving and bettering others, and Jim does just that. Leaders want to change the world. Leaders aren’t afraid to take big risks. Leaders are willing to make sacrifices to get what they want. Leaders dedicate their lives to the causes they are passionate about. He graduated from Michigan State with a finance degree and got a job right away with very well known corporate finance com pay. He didn’t mind his job, but felt that God was calling him to more, so he took a huge risk and quit his nice paying job. He left his comfortable lifestyle and decided to travel the world, and through that he found his life purpose. He wanted to serve others, and improve the poverty stricken world through encouraging education and community service with inner city youths. He decided he wanted to start a non-profit, with the idea that would have the high school kids doing community service and raising money, to fund schools in third world countries that didn’t have education systems, which would eventually come to be called BuildOn

“Walk in Their Shoes is the story of buildOn’s inspirational work with at-risk teens, its indelible influence on communities around the world, and of the man whose vision, faith, and conviction made it all possible. Jim Ziolkowski “believed that one person could indeed change the world, and his story may inspire others to do the same” (Publishers Weekly). 

Starting this Non-profit organization did not come easy to Jim. It was not a walk in the park. In his book, he tells about his incredible struggles to start it up. Many times he just about got up and left the idea behind. But he didn’t. He pushed through. He inspired others with the idea and persistent dedication, and through that he gained much help and many followers. For example, the finance company he had quit earlier on, would become one of the main donations for funding the start up of BuildOn. 


(Ariana Grande via @buildOn) Follow #buildOn student Lakei takes a #selfie with @arianagrande at tonight’s #BuildersBall 9:38 PM – 12 May 2014

I admire his leadership in many ways. As I said before, I really admire his dedication and compassion. Many times in the start up of his organization, he feared the worst. His fear would often times get the best of him. He gave advice about overcoming fear and wrote about how you will never impact the world if you are too afraid to try. That really hit home for me. I often times struggle with thinking I’m not good enough, smart enough, etc. to achieve certain life dreams. And for that, Jim says:

“Fear is useless; What is needed is trust” 

You have to trust in your abilities. You have to solely depend on God to work through you. Anything is achievable. You can change the world. This part of the book I have a sticky in to this day. Jim says:

“Each of us has the power to take action, to light a fire and be the ignition for others.”    

One of the most inspirational parts to me of Jim Ziolkowski’s story, is that he is from Michigan. He went to Michigan State. He was just a regular guy. But look at what he is doing in the world to make a difference! Wow! I mean, according to Simon&Shuster book review, “Under Jim’s leadership, high school students from the South Bronx to San Francisco have contributed more than 1.2 million hours of direct community service, and over the past twenty years, the organization has also constructed more than 550 schools in the world’s economically poorest countries, from Haiti to Nepal. That is crazy cool! And want to know the most inspirational things of all about Jim? Is that he is one of my best friend’s uncle! He is a regular guy. If he can start a movement like this, I can damn freaking right change the world as well!!

And with that, I will conclude that Jim Ziolkowski is an amazing leader. ‘Walk In Their Shoes’ is a fantastic book. And I want to change the world like that some day. I want to serve others and have that kind of inspiring compassion, faith, dedication and hard work.

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

– Dalai Lama 

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
― Dalai Lama

Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
― Dalai Lama

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Resolution Reflection


I can just feel it, 2015 is about to be a great year!

In my LDR200 class, we were given the assignment to write a resolution reflection post for the new year. We were given the questions below and asked to really think about about resolutions and how we can make them a reality. First off, I personally, I hate the word “resolution”.  I was at church last week and my pastor made an extremely good point, when he talked about how many of us set resolutions to better ourselves, but rarely do we take the needed time to think long term about it. He went on to say something along the lines of “You can’t reach your desired goal/resolution if you don’t prepare yourself properly. Praying about your transformation and new ways and also praying about what to do once you reach that desired point is what will get you there.” I couldn’t agree more with my pastor, and am going to be actively doing this with my resolution plans. Below I will answer the questions for you, but wish me luck on achieving them! Also good luck to you if you have certain new years resolutions you want to accomplish!

As a leader: what do you really want in 2015? What do you really need in 2015? What will you share in 2015? What will you succeed at in 2015? 

– What do you want in 2015?

These are about to seem like the most basic goals, but I honestly mean them. I want good grades, to meet more people, get on a set schedule, and get back into the shape I was in when I started college.

1. I want really good grades this semester. I have finally adjusted to how college grading, exams, classes, etc. work, and I think that I will be able to achieve my goal of a 3.8. Last semester, I learned what kinds of studying works best for me, and this semester I have set up study times with my friend, to keep us on track and moving towards our goal. With studying this semester, I will be more proactive, organized and prepared.

2. This semester I want to stick to my set schedule. This basically ties into all of my goals, but having a schedule will help me to actually achieve the goals. This semester I have set up my planner more detailed, and I will be sticking to the workout, SI tutoring sessions, study times, club meeting times, etc. so that I make best use of my time. I have a busy schedule and also want to stay involved with extracurriculars, therefore I must balance my time wisely.

3. This semester I want to get back in shape. Yes, this is such a common NYE resolution. But, to my defense, I have always been fairly successful to achieving my fitness goals. Before I entered college, I had always been extremely involved in sports, working out, and other fitness. When I came to CMU, I found it insanely tough to balance school work, rushing a sorority, join other clubs, and stick to a gym routine. I know that I can stick to my schedule this semester because of the goal  #2 above. I feel out of shape, and I want to get back to my normal crazy workout self. Running and being active is a great stress releaver, and I need it. I do not want to grow old and have bad health, and I am also very confident I will achieve this goal.

4. I want to meet even more people this semester. I mean this goal is pretty easy to do in college, right?! I met so many great people this semester and I want to keep pushing myself to go out of my way to meet more people. I also want to form better relationships with those I have met. I can do more of this networking through my getting involved with Greek Iv and continue to get more involved with my sorority.

– What do you really need in 2015?

I need to figure out my 4 year plan in 2015. Actually, next week. I need to meet with my academic advisor and get more on track to when I will graduate college. I have set up an appointment, and am going to figure out my major and minor plans and get my future on track. This is a hard thing for me, because it freaks me out to have to decided what I want to do for the REST OF MY LIFE, but it needs to be done.

– What will you share in 2015?

I will share my service in 2015. I want to give back to the people that need it. I think that service is extremely important! Back in high school, I was very involved with organizations and causes that gave back, but I need to establish myself and volunteer more with things up here in Mt. Pleasant! I was recently elected community service chair and fundraising chair for my sorority, and I am getting pumped about the volunteer events I will be organizing! I am also so excited to volunteer with Special Olympics Winter Games next week, volunteer with Alternative Breaks, and to go to Detroit with my LAS cohort for a service trip later on this semester. I can feel it, 2015 is about to be an even greater year of service! Also really excited for volunteering this summer! Whoooo!

SO, about my NYE “Resolutions”, all things are possible with God. I vow to stick to my schedule, put in the work, and pray about it throughout this awesome new year!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR YAY 2015 *******