Epilogue: Brittany Tuggle

My week with Volunteer Odyssey came at the perfect time. I needed this experience. That may sound a little dramatic, but it’s true.  I have done volunteer work before, but not on this level. I learned about so many organizations that are striving to improve the lives of Memphis residents.

I admire the dedication of the volunteers and staff that I met on my journey. I highly recommend anyone who can make time, to experience Volunteer Odyssey for themselves.

Doing so much volunteer work in one week helped me put things into perspective about my personal and professional life. Volunteer Odyssey made me consider what kind of impact I wanted to have, what kind of legacy I wanted to create. I was having a hard time discovering my life’s purpose.

After I created my first blog, I figured it out: I wanted to work in the communications department of a non profit organization. Each organization has a unique mission that should be shared with as many people as possible. I feel that part of my life’s purpose is to help share that mission through my knowledge of public relations and communications. If I had not participated in Volunteer Odyssey, I may not have found my purpose for a long time.

Now that I have narrowed down my career goals, I can start gaining experience working in nonprofit communications. Thanks to all the direct and indirect networking, I have more resources to find a job and know what organizations are looking for when it comes to communicating with their audience. Hopefully when I graduate next year, I will have the opportunity to work for one of the many nonprofit organizations in the city. I have a plan, motivation, and now I am working on finding the right opportunity.

Just as the opportunity to be a part of Volunteer Odyssey came at the right time, I know the right job opportunity will come as well. I am excited about my journey, and  I honestly can’t thank Sarah enough for helping me take the first step.

–Brittany

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Week 6, Day 7: Brittany Tuggle at Dorothy Day House of Hospitality

Today marked my final day with Volunteer Odyssey and the culmination of a week of moments I will never forget.

On this final day, I spent my evening at the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality. The Dorothy Day House provides shelter for families who have lost their homes. This is different than other shelters in Memphis, which separate men and women.

Like many other places in Memphis, the Dorothy Day House provides shelter for people who have lost their homes, but Dorothy Day is different from these other places in one key way: at the Dorothy Day House families are allowed to stay together. In addition to providing families with a place to live, Dorothy Day also provides its residents with resources in finding homes and jobs.

Every week, the shelter hosts “Sundays at Six” where volunteers, families, and staff gather in fellowship with each other. There is a prayer followed by dessert. I arrived before the event started to get a tour and speak with Sister Maureen who works at the shelter.

Once the tour was finished, there was some free time before Sunday at Six started. I had a chance to meet with a young woman and her family who have been living at Dorothy Day for about six weeks.

She and her family have found a home and will be moving soon. She was so happy and proud. Her and her family were getting back on her feet. That’s when the mission of the shelter hit home. It’s all about families getting the support and resources they need to remain together in even the most difficult of times. Dorothy Day provides food, clothing, and shelter to homeless families as they transition to find homes and jobs to provide for their families.

After speaking with the family, it was time for the event to start. We all said what we were thankful for and prayed for things we needed. What I noticed was that we were thankful for the same things. Everyone had different circumstances, but was grateful for family, health, and Dorothy Day.

After we said our prayers and thanks, it was time to have dessert. While everyone was eating, I took the time to look at at all the pictures in the dining room. So far, 27 families have come through the shelter. There are framed pictures on the wall in the dining room of all the families. Their picture is placed on the wall after they have left the shelter. Each family’s stay at Dorothy Day House is different, so the duration of their stays varied. The pictures are a tribute to the dedication of families and volunteers at Dorothy Day.

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I had a good evening visiting Dorothy Day. Sister Maureen is a wonderful woman. I wish the families living at the Dorothy Day house the best of luck. I am sad that today was my final day with Volunteer Odyssey. Perhaps it was fitting that my final time was spent in a place focused on empowering its residents. My life’s journey has been changed through Volunteer Odyssey, and I now understand that I have the strength to make a positive impact not only in my own life, but also in the lives of those around me.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job opportunity where I can apply my PR and Marketing knowledge at a nonprofit organization. I am also interested in development, event planning, and fund raising. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com

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Week 6, Day 6: Brittany Tuggle at Memphis Botanic Gardens

I am not an outdoors person at all. Dirt, bugs, wild animals, poisonous plants those are the things I think of when someone mentions any outdoor activity. But, I put all my preconceived notions aside and embraced today’s volunteer work which led me to the Big Backyard at Memphis Botanic Gardens.

If you haven’t visited the Big Backyard, it’s a cool place for kids to explore and learn about nature in a safe environment. There are tree houses and areas that have different activities and games. Swings and hammocks are hidden in all the shaded areas of the garden.

While taking a tour with Dave, one of the employees, he told me that there are classes available in the summer for kids to teach them more about the plants and trees in the area. Memphis Botanic Garden also educates kids on sustainable resources and what they can do to help the environment. Even better, there is a strawberry patch located by the activity center that are free for the picking.

One of the most interesting places that I saw on my tour was the music house. All of the instruments in the house were made up of pots and pans. The sounds were different, but entertaining.

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After I finished my tour, I worked in a few different parts of the Big Backyard,but I spent most of my time in the Woodland area building forts and helping out kids playing in the area find activities they could do by themselves or in a group. This proved to be my favorite area to work, as I got to watch as the kids who came through played tic-tac-toe, built mosaics out of seedlings and leaves, and walked a crooked balance beam made of wood that zigzagged all around the beautiful and tall trees.

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I volunteered my services to McKayla and Caleb to help them build a fort, and they immediately put me to work. The finished product turned out pretty good.

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I had a good time volunteering in the Big Backyard today. Putting my fears of dirt, bugs, and poisonous plants on hold for a day turned out to be a good decision. If you are looking for a place to have a nice family outing, birthday party, or weekend activity, I would recommend coming to the Big Backyard. The kids’ classes and workshops are available during the Spring and Summer.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job opportunity where I can apply my PR and Marketing knowledge at a nonprofit organization. I am also interested in development, event planning, and fundraising. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com

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Week 6, Day 5: Brittany Tuggle at MIFA

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Like many Memphians, I’ve long known about MIFA’s mission but have never taken the opportunity to participate in their volunteer programs. That all changed this morning when I set off to deliver Meals on Wheels with the help of my driver – and Volunteer Odyssey founder – Sarah.

It took about 15 minutes to pick up the meals and receive my route. I had one cooler of hot food and another cooler of cold food. MIFA makes the volunteer process seamless from start to finish. I had Sarah, as my partner and driver today. I double checked to make sure I had five complete meals, directions, and donation envelope. Once everything was packed, it was time to go on a Friday morning adventure.

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My route only had five houses, and it gave me a chance to explore the midtown area.  Each home I visited, the residents were happy to see me. As soon as the door opened, I was greeted with a smile.  With a greeting like that, I couldn’t help but smile back. I felt happy and humbled at the same time. I asked them how they were doing and if they needed anything else. I also gave them a donation envelope that could be picked up during their next food delivery. They were very thankful for the meal and drink.

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Taking the time to have real conversations with the residents we visited serves another purpose beyond helping maintain their sense of community; it also allows the volunteers to keep MIFA updated on how those residents are doing and if they may need a bit of extra help.

After our midtown exploration, Sarah and I  returned our route sheet and coolers to MIFA. The process was short, and easy, but despite how little time it took it was still very rewarding.  I got to meet new people, make sure they had a hot meal, and it felt good to be able to do something nice for someone else.

MIFA delivers meals Monday-Friday, excluding holidays. If you have an hour or two to spare one day, MIFA would love to have you volunteer. Thank you to the wonderful staff at MIFA for their hard work. I plan on going back soon to do more deliveries.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job opportunity where I can apply my PR and Marketing knowledge at a nonprofit organization. I am also interested in development, event planning, and fund raising. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com

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Week 6, Day 4: Brittany Tuggle at Church Health Center

Today I stepped way out of my comfort zone by cooking and trying tofu. I rarely have the chance to cook at home,  and I have never eaten tofu.

I volunteered my limited culinary talents to one of the Church Health Center’s cooking classes. The center also offers many fitness classes and events for the entire family. Church Health Center is a great place to learn how to make small changes in your diet can make a big difference. All of the recipes featured in the class are quick, healthy, and easy to prepare.Both dishes were under 200 calories per serving and took less than an hour to make. On today’s menu was a delicious orange chili tofu with broccoli and a creamy chocolate mousse made with silken tofu.

The cooking instructors, Carolyn and Jimmy, explained to a skeptical class the benefits of using tofu as a protein substitute. Once we learned about how its lack of strong flavor or smell makes it easy to incorporate it into any of our favorite recipes, we came around to how versatile an ingredient it could be. Carolyn also told us that tofu has a longer shelf life than meat, which cuts down on food costs.

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Throughout the morning, Carolyn explained that different types of tofu and their usefulness in different types of dishes. She also explained that cooking the same kind of food can get boring, so they try to provide a variety of recipes in the class. The cost of today’s meal, $20, can feed up to 6.

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To help make sure that no one was intimidated, Carolyn also provided meal plans with the recipes. The meal plans were 1600 calories per day, and included 3 meals and a snack.

After all the chopping, melting, and mixing, we were finally ready to taste the final product.  The orange chili tofu was savory. I could taste the citrus and just a kick of the chipotle chili. It was better than I expected. The tofu was chewy but it tasted good! The chocolate mousse was rich and sweet. It had the same consistency as pudding, but more chocolate flavor. Both dishes got rave reviews from the class. Everyone enjoyed the food, and the idea of tofu for dinner did not seem so terrible. It was amazing how a 20 dollar meal stretched with 10 people. There were even leftovers.

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Thank you to the Church Health Center Wellness team for teaching an amazing class and for sending me home with a few smoothie recipes. The cooking classes are on Thursdays and open to the public. I had a good time, I learned that tofu is a healthy addition to any meal–especially when you add melted chocolate and organic sugar. I will definitely try both recipes at home once my cooking skills improve.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job opportunity where I can apply my PR and Marketing knowledge at a nonprofit organization. I am also interested in development, event planning, and fund raising. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com

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Week 6, Day 3: Brittany Tuggle at SRVS

Today, I had the chance to be artistic with the wonderful people at SRVS. SRVS’s mission is to help adults with disabilities by increasing their sense of independence. SRVS accomplishes this by providing them a safe, comfortable environment and teaching methods that are focused on self-correcting activities. I have visited the center before, but I actually had a chance to help out in the Learning Center.

I worked with a small group of gentleman, and we painted on large pieces of recycled cardboard. When I went to recruit my group, I immediate got a hug from William, who was excited to come paint with me. Once I had my group, we got started with our masterpieces. We helped each other figure out what we were going to paint. I was really impressed by their skills.

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One of my group members, Christopher, kept me in check while I was painting my stripes, which really helped because I have never been able to stay inside the lines. 

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I could tell they were having fun because as soon as they were finished with one picture, they wanted to do another one. 20130522_120006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After art class was over, I got a chance to actually participate in a classroom. I had the chance to spend some one-on-one time with Ernest. We did puzzles and played games that were stimulating his gross and fine motor skills. While the games were simple, he really seemed to enjoy himself. He did all the puzzles himself with very little help from  me. And he was proud of it.  His positive energy rubbed off on me and we just kept having fun until it was time for me to leave. I even walked with him to lunch, which is held in this beautiful area that had a piano and a stage. Everyone knew who he was, clearly Ernest is loved and admired.

 

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I had a great time today as SRVS. I never saw anyone frown the entire time I was there. Even just walking around, there were so many activities and lessons being taught. The staff is dedicated to making sure everyone is being included at all times and they are doing things for themselves. I was leave SRVS feeling happy because I know that these men and women are being cared for and they are doing things that wouldn’t be possible if this amazing organization wasn’t around.

A huge thank you to Allison, Volunteer and Activities Coordinator, who allowed me to enjoy arts and crafts with my group today.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job opportunity where I can apply my PR and Marketing knowledge at a nonprofit organization. I am also interested in development, event planning, and fund raising. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com

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Week 6, Day 2: Brittany Tuggle at Alzheimer’s Day Services of Memphis, Inc.

Today was my second day with Volunteer Odyssey. I spent the morning at the Alzheimer’s Day Services of Memphis. The center provides activities and care for adults with Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. Everyone who enters the center is considered a friend, no one is just a volunteer, a participant, an employee. Calling someone a friend makes you feel comfortable and welcomed.

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As I was taking the tour, I noticed that it was one large space but divided in different areas.   There was a fish tank and bird cage full of finches. There was a game room, arts and crafts, a kitchen. Each group of friends had several nurses with then. The nursing staff keeps everyone entertained, active, and happy. I read the morning newspaper to my group of friends, I asked them their thoughts on the topic. We had a good time. I was fortunate to participate in the morning sing-a-long which is about 30 minutes. It was good to see how no matter where any group was located in the room, they were all singing together. I helped with their exercises which are focused on fine motor skills.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After volunteering with several groups, it was time for me to put myself in their shoes. I participated in the Dementia Sensitivity Experience. The purpose of the experience was to truly understand how someone with Dementia does everyday tasks we take for granted.

My hands were in prickly gloves, the sensation was strange. My fingers were taped together to give me the feeling of having arthritis  I had on these goggles that were blacked out around my peripheral area, and there were black dots in front of my eyes. I couldn’t really see. I was also given insoles that were prickly too! The final piece of “garb” was a set of noise cancelling headphones that played a talk show or white noise that I couldn’t really understand.

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After I was all dressed up, I was taken to a darkened room where I was given a set of tasks to complete in 5 minutes.  I could not remember my  tasks. I couldn’t pick up something as small as a napkin. I dropped silverware. I couldn’t see plates that were right in front of me. I attempted to fold socks, that was so frustrating. I felt myself becoming more agitated. I mean, I know how to fold socks. I felt tears starting to form. Why in the world could I not remember? All of a sudden, time was up!It was the longest 5 minutes of my life.photo (1)

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When I took the post survey, I had a better idea of how someone with Dementia felt. The facilitator shared with me what tasked I completed, which was not very many. I told her I felt confused, frustrated, and agitated. If I felt that only after 5 minutes. I can only imagine how someone lives with feeling like that every day. The Dementia Sensitivity Experience is something I highly recommend to anyone. If you’ve ever been curious about what it’s like. If there is a family member who has Dementia. It made me more aware of the friends I met earlier today.

I had an eventful day. It was an eye-opening experience. I am actually going back tomorrow to help with an event called, Forget Me Not. The event takes people through the Dementia Sensitivity Event. It will be very interesting to see how other people feel after the activity is over.

I am very grateful to the Alzheimer’s Day Services staff and the wonderful friends I met today.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job opportunity where I can apply my PR and Marketing knowledge at a nonprofit organization. I am also interested in development, event planning, and fund raising. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com

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Week 6, Day 1: Brittany Tuggle at Knowledge Quest

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Volunteer Odyssey, Day 1: Knowledge Quest

Today is my first Volunteer Odyssey and I had the opportunity to visit Knowledge Quest. Knowledge Quest is an after-school program that has 3 different campuses in the South Memphis area. When I pulled up, all I could see were little kids smiling and playing! I was given the honor to hang out with 4th and 5th graders for the day. There were 9 kids in my group, and they made me feel right at home.

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Today was a very special day at Knowledge Quest.  It was graduation day!!! Students who were entering elementary, middle, and high school were recognized today. All of the kids in the program came to the Gaston Community Center location for the ceremony. It was just a happy place to be. There were student presentations showcasing the talent of Knowledge Quest.

 

20130520_160630  One group of boys performed their drum circle routine. They were taught by a member of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. They created a chant and had the audience  participate. I found myself getting into it. I was clapping, snapping, and chanting along with everyone else.

20130520_161550 One young child gave a speech that spoke about what he wanted his community to be when he grew up and how he was going to help. He was little nervous, but he got through it. Once he was finished, he had the biggest smile on his face.

Each campus gave out awards and called the names of students who were moving on to the next level. I was standing and clapping after they were finished that one of the kids in my group asked me, “Do you know one the kids up there?” I told her no, but I was excited because they are moving to a new adventure at a new school and I know they are going to love it.

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U.S. Attorney for the Western Tennessee District, Edward Stanton III, was today’s speaker. Mr. Stanton, a Memphis native, has met President Obama and is an example of how continuing an education can lead you to anywhere you want.

Mr. Stanton shared with the students the 3 C’s: Conduct, Character, and Company. Mr. Stanton told them that with good conduct, character, and company that there was nothing they could not be when they grow up. Judging by the amount of raised hands, there are a lot of future doctors and teachers at Knowledge Quest.

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I was inspired today. Knowledge Quest is helping young children embrace their natural talents and ensuring they continue to excel in their education. I appreciate Ms. Toria Brown, Site Director, and her staff for allowing me to tag along today.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job opportunity where I can apply my PR and Marketing knowledge at a nonprofit organization. I am also interested in development, event planning, and fund raising. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com

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Prelude: Brittany Tuggle

Ever since I was a child, I was taught that giving to others was the right thing to do. Now that I am older, I know it’s much deeper than that. It’s about sharing your time with someone and making a difference.

If you know me, you know I am a very emotional person. I never take anything for granted. Over the years, people gave their time to help me when they didn’t have to, they wanted to. Why wouldn’t I want to do the same for someone else? I honestly believe what you put out in the world comes back in some way.

When I found out about Volunteer Odyssey, I knew it was something I had to experience. Recently, I have been entertaining the idea of starting my own nonprofit organization one day. This was a great way to work around the city while getting inspiration. I also wanted to see if I could do it. I am the queen of saying, “I just don’t have the time to do that.” I challenged myself to free an entire week to help others. When I think about it, it wasn’t that hard. I committed to something, and I am going to do it.

Booker T. Washington said, “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” Keeping that in mind, enjoy my Volunteer Odyssey. Share in my happiness. I hope this inspires you in some way.

–Brittany