Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's Next For Me

Now that I am a senior in college and my main focus is transitioning out of being a full time student I am really thinking critically about how all of my volunteer hours can help me after I graduate. I know that it looks good on a resume and it reflects well on my character, however I want to have a more tangible connection with my community service experience and I don't want it to end here. My long term goal is to own performing and fine arts venues around the Greater Philadelphia area however I know that It will take a lot of hard work, determination, and focus to accomplish this goal. I believe that my volunteering has helped sculpt these attributes in me and right out of college I would like to get some type of entry level art administration position and continue to do community outreach. Once I do reach my long term goal of owning a venue and one day venues around the city I want to not only facilitate the arts but I also want to facilitate community outreach and use my venue as a resource for the Philadelphia community! 

I'm so appreciative of all that I've learned and experienced through the community scholars program and my time as a volunteer was extremely enjoyable! I would like to thank the office of Career Services and The Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence for all of your help! 

The Benefits of Volunteering

Most people begin volunteering because of the numerous professional benefits that it produces, but I was lucky enough to just have a natural urge to volunteer! My parents and siblings exposed me to volunteering at a very young age so by the time I was a freshman in high school I was a seasoned volunteer and spent about 20 hours a week on community service initiatives! Over the past 8 years I have volunteered for The Hamilton County Juvenile Court program (Cincinnati, Ohio) , The Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, The Cincinnati Urban League, The Cincinnati & Philly AIDS Walk, The Red Shileld, PAWS Shelter, and more! As president of the black student union on campus, African Diaspora Collective I have made it a point to align our mission with community outreach and volunteering especially since Philadelphia has such a large African American community! Basically I know the power of community service because I witnessed and benefitted from it first hand when I was little so I know how important it is to continue volunteering through out my life! :) 

What I learned!

I believe that I have benefitted in numerous ways while working at the Red Shield. I had the opportunity to work on and manage projects, build activities for children, tutor, and learn key communication skills, but what I think I learned the most is how much you can push yourself when you are passionate about something. I know that if I wouldn't of been passionate about inner city children and especially inner city children in trauma situations that I would of lost my patience during my time there. But I really felt that the work I was doing was important so I felt that it was important to give it my all! By maintaining this attitude the children immediately welcomed me and we all got along well. Mike and the other employees at the Red Shield were great examples of how to conduct yourself in that type of environment so I was able to learn from them and imitate their teaching and leadership habits. Overall, I really believe that I left the Red Shield as a more well rounded individual and my involvement in the Greater Philadelphia Community will not stop here! 

The Parents

Throughout my time at The Red Shield I found my biggest adjustment to be dealing with the parents. Regardless of why I was there, I had to interact with the parents because I was interacting directly with their children. For the most part all the parents were pleasant, and they were always nice to me; however sometimes it would bother me how the parents either spoke or treated their children. I felt like they didn't foster a nurturing environment for the children and all of the bad habits that the adults had directly and severely rubbed off on the children. Alot of the disciplinary problems that Mike and I had to deal with was because the children either were imitating their parent(s), rebelling toward all adults because of their parents, or their parents didn't properly teach them how to conduct themselves in school and in public. They didn't grow up in a household that amplified respect so they didn't know how to show respect. It was disheartening but I couldn't pass judgement because these were children that had to grow up FAST and been faced with things that even some adults didn't have to face. These children were use to either helping raise themselves or COMPLETELY raising themselves. So with this in mind I worked my hardest while I was there to provide an example for the children so that I could teach them that even though you didn't grow up in the most ideal circumstances you could still grow up to be exceptional! :) 

Art Classes

After working with the children for a while, I began to realize how a lot of them were interested in the arts and quite good at them! Once tutoring time was done, some of the children would ask to play the keyboard that the facility had or draw or play make believe. So Mike and I decided to capitalize on that and try and put together classes for the children at U'arts. I recruited student artist including, Sydney Andrews (Multidisciplinary/Print Making '14), Lionel Forrester Jr. (Drum Performance '15), Afiya Alleyne (Vocal Performance '15) Damala Haire (Vocal Performance '15) Tiffani Holland (Film '14) Myles Brown (Illustration '15) and myself. Michael facilitated a training for all of us, in which we learned about teaching young children and dealing with children in trauma situations. Also, we worked closely with the Office of Student Life to help sponsor and support the classes. During our time with the children we taught them basic music skills such as rhythm and melody; drawing technique; and the power of acting and expression! Overall all of the children really enjoyed working with the student artist and everyone benefitted from the experience! 

U'Arts Halloween Trip

As many people can recall from 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast during October and kept most children from celebrating Halloween. Unfortunately, the children at the Red Shield wouldn't of even been able to go trick or treating even if the storm didn't hit because none of them had homes and the halfway house they all lived in wasn't in a neighborhood that accommodated halloween traditions. So with the help of Ladies of Service, Mike and I were able to bring the children at the Red Shield down to the university of the Arts to celebrate Halloween! The children were given a concert by the Rumble ensemble and then were able to come on stage and play the drums themselves! My favorite child, Hannifah got the chance to play drums and was a natural! It was very inspiring to see how children can just be inclined to the arts! Then they were all taken to the division of student affairs and was able to go trick or treating in each office! This was definitely one of my favorite events to host for the children!

Mike O'Bryan | Red Shield Supervisor

Ever since I was a freshman, I have received the chance to meet some amazing people at the university and in the Greater Philadelphia area, but I think one of the most influential people that I have met is my mentor Mike O'Bryan. During my two years as a SISPA/Community Scholars volunteer I worked for Mike at his job and learned a great deal. Michael attend the University of the Arts and graduated in 2006 with his Undergrad in Vocal Music. He went off to work in non-profit at the Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence as the Youth Services Director. Over the years he has nurtured an interest in children in me and now it has become on of my passions. Both Mike and I came from trauma house holds when we were children and so we relate closely to the children that we helped at the Red Shield. Mike personally can speak to the psychological implications of children who have been faced with trauma at a very young age and I am so lucky to have met such a committed, passionate leader of the community! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tutoring | E.Joi McNeill

Before I moved to Philadelphia, I never really took great interest in tutoring. I maintained the grades to be eligible to tutor but I never really thought I'd be that good at it. After entering my freshman year at the University of the Arts, I had the opportunity to volunteer with U'Arts Alum, Mike O'Bryan through the student organization, African Diaspora Collective. I began tutoring children between the ages of 4-15 at the Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence for about 4 hours a week. After joining the UArts Community Scholars program, I committed my core community service at the Red Shield and I had the opportunity to not only help these children a few days a week, but I started to build a relationship with them! I knew who was good at what, who struggled with something, and who needed a little bit more of my attention. I helped children with math, science, and writing. I met some of my favorite students while tutoring them for 2 years. I had a chance to witness their math and reading skills improve and parents we very appreciative for my work. I'm not sure if I'm the best tutor but I truly enjoyed the experience and hope I helped the children the best I could! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

"Amplified" Black History Month Exhibition

Through out my years at The University of the Arts, I have been afforded a great deal of opportunities, and luckily along with my chance to be a community scholar, I was able to assume the position of President of African Diaspora Collective (ADC)  {U'arts Black Student Union}. As president I make it a priority to align our mission with community outreach and programming, especially since Philadelphia has such a large African American community. So naturally I thought that it would be a great idea to intermingle my involvement with ADC with my volunteering at The Red Shield! With that in mind, I reached out to the Vice President of ADC, Nia Benjamin and a small group of active members and we undertook the project of "AMPLIFIED": A Black History Month Exhibition!

The mission of "AMPLIFIED" was to get a group of U'Arts CAMD students to participate in an art exhibition with some of the children at the Red Shield. We wanted to give the children of the Red Shield the opportunity to make art in numerous mediums and have it displayed in a real gallery for everyone to admire! With help from GALLERY ONE president, Sydney Andrews, we were given the privilege of using the GALLERY ONE gallery space! In addition, we were able to sit down with the children and give them prompts to work with to create some of their best art! 

We asked them questions such as; "Who is your hero?", "What are three things you love to do?", "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and the art that was produced was just as broad as the questions! 

It was a lot of fun to get to witness the children use their imaginations and even more enjoyable to see the college students expound on that imagination! 

Below are some of the pictures from the event! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Art Board 
The Art board was created so our guest every week could see the work they created the week before. This shows our guest we not only keep the work they but be are proud of it.  Thursday projects become weekly works of art for the entire broad street ministry to see. 
The art board is not only to grow pride and confidence in our participants but it is to also inspire others who have not yet took part to do so.  The Art board has inspired many people to come to the table. “ I saw what everybody did on the wall (art board) and I thought id give it a try” a woman said to me.  She sat at the table and produced a great work and was featured on the next weeks Art board.
The art board is the beginning to the art ramp up BSM plans to undergo.  First the Art Board,  BSM Instagram, Installation, and then First BSM Guest Art Show.

Tito F. Williams II
Planning  this new installation, “walk in my Shoes”, there is a great deal of research that must be put into the project. We first create a budget by researching the cost of materials needed to create the shoes, the cost of permits, zoning, and installation also must be included into the budget.  I have done some preliminary budgeting with materials and spoken to a few contacts about who to speak to and the steps it takes to get the permits need for a public art installation such as ours.  I learned the art commission was the proper organization the handles all public art in Philadelphia.  It was suggested before speaking to the to the Art Commission put together are first looking for grants that could fund the project.  

Tito F. Williams II
Developing Social Media

Because we are putting off holding an Art show in the near future, I have thought of creating an Instagram to document what we do at the Art table. This way we can connect and show off some of the work produced at Broad street ministry by our guest in a fast, easy, and cost effective ay until the time is right to open the official art show.  Through this Instagram we can build excitement for the work produced from the Art table. This will hopefully attract volunteers and donors to come to the table and take part in its physical growth as well.  As more people know about the table, come to volunteer, and donors contribute the table can physically grow giving guest more space and better materials. 

A Dream of mine would be the BSM Instagram would begin to trend online. Our guests work would become the focus of admiration. Guest could feel appreciated knowing they contribute to something people love and make others happy as well as themselves.

Tito F. Williams II
Changing Plans

We took several weeks in making a budget, researching materials, developing a design and timeline for completion.  Brenna can into our tuesday meeting extremely excited.  “ I have some news and you are either going to love me or hate me” she said to me.  She had an idea for a new art instillation. This installation would consist of our guest, staff, volunteers and supporters of Broad street ministry to create shoes. The shoes would be slightly larger then then the normal foot and decorated then preserved by dipping the shoe into a resin. Our goal is to create a minimum of 1,363 shoes and set in an area or areas of philadelphia where there is high foot traffic stretching a minimum of one mile. The Installation will be known as walk a mile in my shoes. I was extremely excited for the the new project. The prior installation as well as the art show would be set aside until the new installation is near completion.

Tito F. Williams II

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dayshaun | "Something Amazing!"

I posted previously about one of my favorite children at the Red Shield, Hannifah Brown and I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about a young boy with the brightest imagination I've ever encountered! Dayshaun! 

Dayshaun was seven years old when I met him and I worked with him closely on the "Amplified" art exhibition project! I was naturally drawn to him because he was the most engaged child drawing! I approached him and asked him what he was working on. With his hand still racing away, he looked up with huge bright eyes and simply said: "Something Amazing!" He then went on to ask me to hand him the glitter glue that was sitting on the table and told me to help him! In that time we talked about all that he wanted on the poster board he was working on. He went on to ask me what my name was, I told him. He asked me how to spell it. I told him. He then went to find another bright color and wrote my name on the poster and his name and numerous Spongebob Squarepants characters! He worked feverishly on his art work the entire hour we had and was so excited to say that he had completed his work! 

I can't explain how happy this made me! This adorable little boy was still so passionate about doing something so simple. Even though most of the children were more interested in playing the Wii that the organization provided in the game room, or joining the pre-teens who were on YouTube or Facebook. No Dayshaun was satisfied with just a few markers, crayons, and glitter and a blank slate! A chance to create "Something Amazing!"

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

planning an art show
This year 2014 Benna and I would like to start an annual art show at Broad Street Ministry. The art Show would consist mainly of work from our guest. Many of our guest create wonderful pieces using elements of composition and color theories with out formal knowledge of the concepts.  
We have began thinking of ways to get the best work from our guest. By getting new people to join the art table we not only get new regulars to the table but see many unexpected talents.  Many newcomers feel the are not up to the task, but they only need some reassurance. Though the table is not about creating ascetic art work , many of our guest are able to produce high level abstract art, amazing concepts and imagery in there work. 

In the Art show we would show case these works, drawing people into Broad Street. Through the art show we allow the people of Philadelphia to understand our guest on a deeper level through there art work. The Show would also allow others to understand broad street ministry more as well. I want the show to resemble the G40 summit in D.C. The G40 features work from a number of artist, work is hung from wall to wall in an renovated abandoned church. We would follow this these here at Broad Street to get people of philadelphia walking through every area not only viewing art but learning more about our services.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Planning an Instillation

From my entry into broad street the topic of an art installation to mark the ramp up the the organizations art department.  Our goal was to create an instillation that would allow those who look upon it to understand our guest in a deeper way. Many who come through the doors of Broad street Ministry are judged, misunderstood, and left to denied as individuals of worth. 

Inspired by Ingo Maurer’s Zettel Chandelier. The light fixture consists of illuminated notes, poems, and quotes suspended from a single tubular light source.  I wanted to create in instillation that could shine a light on the thought, goals, dreams, and prayers of the our guest and volunteers that come through the doors of Broad street Ministry.  Brenna the therapeutic Arts coordinator suggested presenting these notes from our guest in the form a a tree. Trees are a representation of life and long lasting strength.  Broad Street Ministry is the tree to which these thoughts and prayers are connected too.  Lights would illuminate the notes creating a whimsical piece.

Tito F. Williams II

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Developing a relationship with the art table
From the first day iv made a number of connections with the guest that come through Broad street ministry. It is here at the art table where a volunteer can develop the best relationship between volunteer and guest. 
At the table we have covered a number of topics of conversation. From discussing the best shows on TV, to serious subjects of economics, to creative painting techniques are all discussed at the table.  Bonding over the latest season of orange is the new black or collaborating with a guest to create a piece are highlights of mine in discussions at the art table. Though they may not seem significant its interactions like these leave guest feeling emotionally restored.  As relationships strengthen relief comes to our guest simple by sitting at a table with enjoyable people, friends.

Tito F Williams II

Friday, July 11, 2014

First day at the art table

Every Thursday Broad Street Ministry holds an Art Therapy table where guests may come to sit use there creativity.  While doing so our guests can feel relaxed and take part in a few hours of creative bliss. Each week a new projects is set before our guest to survive as a guide for there creativity. 
My first day at the Art Therapy Table began with slight intimidation.  Many of our guest deal with extremely stressful lives as well as serious mental health issues. My fear was unintentionally triggering an episode with in someone.  I was careful to be a empathetic sound board for those who spoke about their hardships while easily directing the energy of conversation to a positive one, leaving the guest able to vent yet feeling encouraged rather then defeated.

This day guest created collages using magazines, chalk, and color pencils.  Guest let lose their imagination creating a variety of unique pieces. Some were controlled with themes of people and expressions while another focused on positive words.  Others used a more chaotic method pasting their interests to the page and embellishing with color pencil and chalk. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Answering calls

Answering phones for a non profit to many seem like a job of insignificance. How ever the task though not a arduous one, holds immense importance. While answering calls for the volunteer office I am many times the first impression of broad street ministry an individual looking to volunteer encounters.
The importance of my engagement in answering calls came to me while speaking to a man looking to volunteer somewhere where can spend his excess time productively to help others.  By not having step foot through our doors or knowledge of the many services broad street ministry provides, I was this mans first impression of what the organization represents. 
As I began to explain our services, mail, braking bread, clothing closets, personal care, and the art therapy table, he expressed his excitement.  “ I can tell you really like what you do” he said to me. Expressing his excitement to volunteer had grown simply by speaking to me. Its at this moment I realized just how important the task of answering the phone can be. Genuine enthusiasm can be the difference between drawing that volunteer in and deterring them from your organization all together.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hannifah Brown | What She Represents

Through out my time at The Red Shield Salvation Army, I had the opportunity to meet a great deal of lively children. Children of large families, only children, twins, and children with out parents. These children, bright eyed and energized functioned as most children do; attending school, playing with each other, and taking in all that they saw. However, these children must hold on to their childhood harder than anyone their age. The amount of "life" these children have experienced in such a short amount of time is truly unreal and sometimes scary. Losing parents, violence in the home, homelessness, and unimaginable hardship. Yet, there was Hannifah Brown. 

 {Hannifah and her little brother Rasul!}

As bright as the sun, Hannifah shined amongst her peers! Her spirit, her energy, humor, smile, and heart was one of the most beautiful things I witnessed at the Red Shield! Being one of 6 siblings and coming out of a strick muslim home, Hannifah let her character shine through her personality and she didn't let a "little" issue like homelessness dim her smile! A good student and a very imaginative young lady, Hannifah flourished at every arts activity presented to her! I LOVED my time with her! Her spirit was so inspiring to me and thank God her and her family were able to get on their feet and move out of the shelter, but to this day I miss this little girl! She was truly my favorite!!! <3 

("Wake Up, Everybody!" The Roots/John Legend f.Melanie Fiona & Common. I invite you to listen!) 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Transgender Awareness Day

Attached is a picture of one of Out@UArts’ campaign for the visibility on campus. We did tabling in Terra for Trans Awareness/Remembrance day. By giving away Hershey kisses at the table we were able to start multiple dialogue of engaging conversation of people that had no idea what being trans meant. Even before the group, I did not know what trans meant. I did not know that 50% of trans people feel unwelcome and unsafe in their schools, work, and even homes. The lack of awareness brings violence, prejudice, and fear. Because of this we spread the word on the University of the Arts campus and had a very successful day of awareness and inclusion.

An Unlikely Response

A response to my original thesis paper for Camille’s class, which I posted to facebook, it started a big dialogue with friend an collegeue alike about the community. The world wide web is truly that and a friend who helped raise me when I was four volunteering in the Muncie, Indiana Children’s Museum posted this response:

I get kind of an interesting perspective on this too as I tend to fall between the standard generations mentioned here I think. In general I tend to live a middle of the line life. While I am basically out as being Bi to most people and have been since late in high school, I am still "closeted" to most of my family. This situation definitely has presented challenges. I am at least fortunate that my husband (who I have been with since HS) is very understanding and willing to allow me the freedom to pursue both sides of my desires. In the same vein though I do NOT do casual flings and never have. I have lived at home till nearly the time of my marriage at 28 years of age and having parents considerably older than me I was definitely given few freedoms in many ways and I was never the party type. The closest to a dating site that I ever did was; what was more common when I was in college, a chat room. That only ever brought about a single slightly awkward meetup at a campus coffee house. Mostly any other girls I have had any involvement with have either been instances of a chance finding of each other in our normal lives or as a friend of a friend introduction. It is actually kind of funny that now with social media (which was not big till after my college days) I am learning that if society had been more open in my youth that perhaps I might have had a better chance as some former classmates have come out to at least some extent and indicated that back then there might have been an interest.

So while I am young enough to have a very string grasp of technology I am also old enough that the social aspects used today were not in place in my prime "dating years". I will at least say that my son will be able to benefit fortunately from a parent that is very open about things yet still strict where I need to be. He will grow up knowing no matter what his sexual identity or those of his friends I will understand. I will be happy if I can be a mature and understanding ear and voice where one is needed for any coming after me.

I was shocked by her braveness to post this so publically but was also reminded of how you really do not know a person and their personal struggle with acceptance of themselves or into society. This year has been such an unbelievable experience that will shape the way I live my life and I had Julie Woodward to thank for such an amazing growing process. 

William Way

I spent my first year of AmeriCorp volunteering at the William Way LGBT Center. I really did not know what I was getting myself into. My schedule was already jammed packed and 9-5 are their typical hours, just like any normal organization. For the first few months, I struggled to complete the takes like making a birthday card and various other backburner projects that seemed lackluster to me. It didn’t have that power I was looking for. I don’t see until now that every role is necessary for a successful organization to run. It can’t just be the poster boy or the man calling the shots. After a few months, I started working with Paul, one of  the best people I have ever met who does I mean honestly a million things. I do not know where to begin with naming the lives he has changed but know that is a million. So, I began working with him to plan events and get raffle baskets, working with area businesses to collect things for non-profits.

We planned concerts, doggy adoptions, and even fundraising events with the mayor and a house representative was there. I encountered a lot of experience both beneficial and also extremely challenging for me to overcome. A community center requires a community of people and in any community there is a mix of everyone under the rainbow. (Pun Intended)

During this time I also began FIT meetings which is where after orientation a staff member, or me, meets with potential volunteers one-on-one to discuss opportunities and where they would best fit in. It was a very rewarding time where I met so many wonderful people the work daily to make the Philadelphia community safer, happier and a community. 

TIME Article

Until senior year of college, I never really thought about feminism. I always knew how fortunate I was, but I never really had the opportunity to see my life or history through another person’s eyes. Cue Camille Paglia. A teacher at UArts, Camille writes for TIME, the Daily Telegraph, and is featured on many news sites and programs. I took her Gender Images in the Media, which is basically a class on feminism. It inspired so much of my art and my life this year. For the first time, I was able to relate and have intelligent conversation that led to many successful partnerships and collaborations. For our term paper we had to write a 2-sentence proposal about what we wanted to write about. Now, it was supposed to be a 5-7 page research paper about some gender role in society. For some reason, senioritis, I decided that this was dull to me. As an Aquarius, I go with the flow and kind of do what I want (but at least I do it whole heartedly).

I began to think of social barriers and expectations that affect me. Things arose like, “What does a person mean when they double take on the street.” I thought about going up to people at bars and interviewing them. I wanted to find the dingiest of dive bars to the elite dining halls finding out TRUE REAL conversation about what is happening in gay society. I wanted to make it about gays because that is who I most relate to and who I feel I have to most power to influence and grow alongside of. My proposal ended up being “If we do not give collegiate aged youth 18-21 year olds, a place to exchange ideas and form meaningful relationships, they have to resort to hook ups apps in order to form a community and meet friends, thus perpetuating the gay stereotype.” What started as a 5-7 page research paper kind of turned into my thesis statement for life of which I could write a book. I brainstormed with a lot of new friends, talked to a lot of people about their thoughts and input, and had very interesting dialogue about current gay culture.

Camille liked my thesis idea that she took it but broadened it into an article the she wrote in TIME about lowering the drinking age. I thought it was a very interesting point of view on the issue and she offered a solution. As a 22 year old, I am still asking all the questions. I know the problem, I know the very root of the problem, but I do not know the answer yet. I wrote my paper, having A LOT to say and solving problems along the way. I asked for her feedback after a very challenging writing process and editing week and received a response highly in my favor. She passed along my paper to her editor at TIME and now I am currently writing an article about gay culture on college campuses and my critiques. HOW EXCITING RIGHT!? The thought of being an LGBT activist all of a sudden got very real.