Bailey Reynolds – Week 2 Journal

Take a look at Bailey’s journal from Week 2 to learn about what she’s doing at the LLC office and United Way, as well as what she thought of our visit to the Sheriff’s department!

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My second week of this year’s internship program was great. After the excitement of the first week, it was nice to be able to get more focused on work. At United Way, I sent over 500 letters asking for donations/wings for our kickoff event! I was very excited about getting all of the letters out. I felt very accomplished. At the Leadership office, I continued to work on the poverty simulation. I have currently been completely re-typing the family profiles. I have really been enjoying working on this. I also have enjoyed our lunches with the crazy conversations! It’s nice to be able to have such fun lunch times and laugh with co-workers. This week, we also went to the Sherriff’s department. Personally, prisons are not my cup of tea. I am glad that we went though and it was really interesting to be able to compare this visit to last year’s at the Grafton Correctional Prison. One thing that did stand out to me during this workshop was the way the officers talk about the inmates. From what I have seen on movies and TV, I assumed they were very strict and did not interact with the inmates too much but my expectations proved to be wrong. Our officer that gave us a tour made it very clear that the inmates are still just people that made mistakes. He especially talked about the one minor that they had in there for almost a year! He said that he’s a good kid and he watches Indians games with him. To me, that was very refreshing to hear because it showed a different perspective than I was expecting. I am grateful that I got to see it.

Bailey Reynolds

Baldwin Wallace University

Intern at Leadership Lorain County and United Way

Nord Family Foundation

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Where Are They Now? – Caitlin Baker

Caitlin Baker was an intern at Common Ground in 2010 through the Leadership Lorain County internship program and has been on the move ever since!  She is working to better the world through education and volunteerism.  Take a look at this essay about her experience volunteering with AmeriCorps all the way in Washington State!

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When many people think of the state of Washington, they may think of Seattle, forests of evergreens, and the west coast.  Many people are surprised when I describe the area where I lived as a dry and hilly place full of farmers, sage bushes and rattlesnakes.  However, the two years that I spent in north central Washington as an AmeriCorps member changed more than my geographic and cultural perspective of Washington; it gave me a new perspective on public education in this country and reinforced the importance of volunteer service.

Education is my passion.  America is destroying itself by constantly cutting funding for public education.  Because I also struggled with academics when I was younger, I was eager to help with this issue and I joined Intermountain AmeriCorps shortly after graduation with my bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing in 2010.

I spent the 2010-2011 school year living in a small town called Omak, half of which lies on the Colville Indian Reservation and has a population of less than 5,000.  Because the town boasted a Wal-Mart, JC Penney, and a Safeway, it was considered the shopping center of the county.  I received a small monthly stipend and served at one of the elementary schools there with two other AmeriCorps members.  I worked closely with their highly organized reading intervention program and spent most of my time tutoring students directly according to their individual needs.  It was a very rewarding experience and I made many personal connections with the students.  By the time we did end-of-the-year assessments for the students who had participated in the tutoring program most them had excelled at least one and a half grade levels in reading, while several of them had gained three grade levels throughout the year.  I felt so effective and influential in my position that I applied to serve for another year there.  Unfortunately, the Reading Corps program was cut across the state of Washington before I could participate further.

Kahil Gibran once lamented that people often “raised their voices with hymns of praise, but deafened themselves to the cry and moan of the widows and the orphans.”  This quote not only refers to the apathy towards the problems of others, but can also refer to the tendency of people to be disconnected from the problems around them.  Before I joined AmeriCorps, I was naïve to the magnitude of the educational issues of our country.  Through service, I became much more acquainted with the issue, as well as with the people who struggle with it.  After having spent a few years in service of that cause, I feel much more connected to the issue and to the community that it affects.  In that way, volunteerism is not only a means to support a cause but also a means of community building.  I had the opportunity to serve the community not only by helping to educate children, but also by helping to put in a school garden, sort food for distribution at a food bank, clean out a building so that it could be used as a homeless shelter for teenagers, as well as many other volunteer projects.  In an era when technology and electronics cause many people to spend a lot of time alone or else indirectly interacting with others, a simple act of service can help build a connection between someone and their community, as well as have a positive impact on everyone within the community.

Caitlin Baker

LLCIP 2010

Historical Adventures: Underground Railroad Part One – Kaitlin and Melody

Leadership Lorain County’s own Kaitlin Jackson and Melody Reams took a field trip through the Underground Railroad for Visit Lorain County.  Check out Kaitlin’s awesome blog post!

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Historical Adventures: Underground Railroad Part One

For our second adventure Melody and I decided to travel along Lorain County’s Underground Railroad Tour. We left early on a Wednesday morning, equipped with Visit Lorain County’s On the Trail to Freedomguide, in search of information and new sights. We chose a beautiful day for exploring, it was one of the first sunny days in a few days. Due to unexpected construction, the drive included some creative turns while trying to get to our first location.

The Underground Railroad marker

We started in Oberlin at the Underground Railroad Marker; Garden and First Church. We learned that First Church was the meeting site of the Oberlin Anti-Slavery Society.  From First Church we walked through Tappan Square, which seemed strangely empty, yet peaceful, since Oberlin College is on summer break. Our next stop was the Underground Railroad Sculpture located across from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. The healing garden, located near the sculpture, contains plants that represent those that were used by slaves on the road to freedom. It was a very pretty setting, I couldn’t help but wish my residence hall at school had such an interesting sculpture in front of it.

Oberlin Heritage Center

Melody and I were told that the Oberlin Heritage Centerwas the place to go for authentic experiences and celebrate the past, so that was our next stop. There we talked to another Leadership Lorain County intern, Michelle, who showed us a map of the Underground Railroad, and a few other interesting pieces of history located at the Heritage Center. I asked about “hidey-holes” or hidden rooms and they told us that the Bardwell House had one but unfortunately isn’t open to the public. We drove by it on our way back to the visitors center. It looked like a perfectly normal house to me. It would be pretty cool to be the person living in that house now!

Scanning the QR code

From the Oberlin Heritage Center we made our way to the Westwood Cemetery located on Morgan Street.  Once we arrived at the cemetery we walked to the back corner where the majority of the graves are located. Melody scanned the QR code in our handy On the Trail to Freedom guide to help us find the graves. You could also download the trailhere. Since I grew up in Oberlin, many of the names I saw walking through the cemetery seemed familiar to me. Quite a few buildings in Oberlin are named after people who are buried in Westwood. We managed to find quite a few graves. It was amazing to see how many remarkable people lived in the same town as me and to learn about their active role in history.

After all that adventure we decided it was time for a cool treat! Cowhaus Creamery is a fantastic artisan hand-spun ice cream shop on East College Street. With such a great vibe and service the ice cream was definitely worth our side trip! Melody sampled a few flavors before deciding on a seasonal cherry sorbet. I stuck with my favorite, strawberry. We paused a moment while enjoying our ice cream to admire the cute cow decor!

We weren’t able to fit the entire tour into one day so stay tuned for part two!

Kaitlin Jackson

Ohio University
Intern at Visit Lorain County

Sherrif’s Office Visit – Rachel Salyer

The highlight of my week was definitely visiting the Sherrif’s office.  One of my many “dream jobs” would be to be a field producer for “Lockup” on MSNBC, which is a documentary series about inmates in jails and prisons all around the country and even the world.  I’ve seen virtually every episode and still watch the re-runs over and over.  Getting to see the county jail was like “Lockup” in real life!  The facility and the entire operation was very familiar based on what I had seen on the program, so it was especially cool for me to get a close-up look at something I had been so interested in.

I will admit that I was much more nervous when we were first in the jail than I anticipated, especially when there were inmates walking around unescorted.  Clearly, if they have that privilege, their crime must have been minor and they must have extremely good behavior, but I was still definitely on edge.  Even so, I think it’s good to experience things that heighten our senses and surprise us—it’s a good break from the norm.  I have a feeling that the jail visit will be one of my favorites from the whole summer.

Rachel Salyer

Intern, Leadership Lorain County

The University of Akron

Leadership Lorain County Intern Orientation at Common Ground

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On a typical weekday most of the new Leadership Lorain County interns will leave their various workplaces dressed in their business clothes having put in a long day working on projects, gathering data, making phone calls, and much more.

On Friday, May 31 these same interns finished their workday in shorts, t-shirts and tennis shoes, covered in sweat and dirt, having spent their day swinging on ropes, balancing on a tight rope, and throwing their peers through a net seven feet above the ground.

That’s definitely not your typical workday!

On Friday, Leadership Lorain County’s interns for 2013 had their orientation at Common Ground in Oberlin, where they participated in a ropes course to learn more about themselves and their fellow interns.  LLCIP graduate Lydia Lee, the Program Facilitator at Common Ground, lead the students through several activities to help them enhance their cooperation, decision-making, trust, and leadership.

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The students first had to figure out a way transport each other across rope bridge suspended seven feet in the air within seven minutes so they wouldn’t “wake the sleeping spider” underneath, according to Lydia.  The 28 students, thanks to their ingenuity and teamwork (and a little muscle), managed to get everyone across.  It took them a bit longer than the allotted seven minutes, but Lydia gave them some bonus time thanks to their loud cheers to encourage and motivate the remaining students to get across the bridge.

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Next, the students had to swing on a rope from one platform to another.  Easy enough, right?

Oh, and all 28 of them had to remain standing on 4’ by 4’ platform until everyone was across—and then remain standing there for seven “Lydia”  seconds once they were finished (which was really closer to 20 seconds).

To complete this task interns held hands and embraced one another to keep each other on the platform.  Even though there were complaints of the heat and being covered in one another’s sweat, all of the interns were extremely proud to have accomplished what seemed like an impossible task.

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Later, the interns partnered up to help each other balance on two diverging tightropes, where the partners had to hold hands and completely lean on one another in order to shuffle across the wire as it got further and further apart.  Two of our interns, Ian and Connor, made it all the way across by completely trusting one another and placing their entire body weight on their partner—even when they were almost parallel to the ground!

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At the end of the training session, many interns spoke of how they have difficulty trusting new people and how these activities helped them to break down those barriers.  Other interns spoke of the importance of teamwork during these activities.  A few even gave shout-outs to specific people who really stepped up as leaders.

Even though our interns left Common Ground a little dirtier than when they arrived, they also left with a renewed sense of confidence and teamwork that left them excited a motivated to begin their new jobs around Lorain County.

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Rachel Salyer

The University of Akron

Leadership Lorain County