Plus of being a local team: You don't have to pack for Spike!
I do have to admit, watching the vans leave the parking lot, knowing that I won't be seeing Derek, Christina, Jeremy, Jo, Leia, or Jenna for a couple months, was a very strange feeling. I was a little sad but mostly excited for all of them because I know they are going to have an amazing experience. I wasn’t sad to leave Ian…. I’m kidding Ian!!! Even though I already saw him yesterday since he is only in Boulder… I really am going to miss him being on my team as well. I'm so glad I still have Sarah, Shawn and Shiny on my team and the rest of my shuffle team is awesome. I think it's going to be a great two months with them. They are all really enthusiastic about the project and every day this week I have been more and more impressed with their overall attitude and work ethic.
It’s been a great week so far. Starting a new project is always fun and last night I got to see Band of Horses at the Ogden Theater in Denver with Daniel (another Team Leader). It was an amazing show! Today is Wednesday and I'm half-way through my first week at the Denver Children's Home (DCH), which supports children and families struggling with the effects of poverty, abuse, neglect, exposure to violence, and chronic mental health problems. I'm so happy with this project; I feel like I am floating on air. All day I had to keep reminding myself that this is my "job," playing basketball with kids? I know it's much more than that but I still feel so lucky to have an opportunity to work with such an amazing organization. Our sponsor, Deb, has been incredible. She is one of the most supportive and dedicated people I have ever met and she truly is the heart and soul of DCH. The rest of the staff is just as amazing and they have all been very welcoming.
After orientation and finger printing we were able to dive right in and work with the kids. What a great idea.... to give us hands on experience before going through the rules and regulation training. That way we had specific questions, and a better idea of what actually goes on at the home. DCH has residential and day treatment students, as well as kids who just attend school there without therapy. On top of their typical therapy programs they also have a lot of alternative therapy like yoga, art, pet therapy, and music therapy. Today we even got to sit in on a music class that is held in the DCH recording studio and help the students record their own song. The Flobots, who are from Denver, not only donated this space and equipment but they also volunteer at the home every week when they aren't touring. Today the kids were learning about what makes up a song…melody, harmony, tempo, beats, etc. They wrote lyrics to their own song and they also got to play all different types of instruments. I think it so incredible that the Flobots are using their celebrity in such a positive way and you can tell that it is such a useful and powerful outlet for the kids at DCH. A lot of other musicians have jumped on board and now volunteer there as well. You can tell that there is an overwhelming amount of support from the community. When we first took a tour of the home the staff pointed out many things that have been donated over the years: their playground, basketball courts, rock wall, a brand new kitchen for the culinary classes, and they are in the process of renovating an entire wing of their school for a student learning center, most of which has been donated, including the labor that we will be helping with. This student learning center will have a library, computer labs, as well as a coffee cart that the students will run themselves. By the time the students leave the home they will all have barista experience which will be so useful for finding full- or part-time work. DCH is committed to providing their students with life skills to help them become more self sufficient. I think this is a brilliant idea and I’m so happy to be a part of it.
Our team will be working with many different aspects of DCH. We will be working in the classrooms; next week we will be proctoring their CSAP (Colorado Student Assessment Program) tests and then running teambuilding activities in the afternoons. We will also be mentoring and helping the students with job searching, learning to take public transportation, etc. Some of us will be working with their marketing and event coordinators to help plan other service projects, and a few of us will even get a chance to learn more about the behind-the-scene aspects of DCH like fundraising and grant writing. DCH has so much to offer and this is truly going to be one of the best learning experiences of my life.
I can’t wait to hear about the other projects and how everyone else is doing. I miss them all so much, but from my experience last year, shuffle round feels like it goes by the fastest, so I’m going to soak up the Denver sun while I can and look forward to the Water 4 reunion in May.