Week 19, Day 6: SRVS-ing the Memphis Community

Day 6 started at 10 a.m., which allowed me to sleep in a little later. I don’t know why I feel the need for more sleep. As of late, three-hour naps have sneakily worked themselves into my daily routine. That aside, I headed out to explore my sixth nonprofit to explore, SRVS–an agency that offers programs and assistance to disabled men and women, no matter the severity of the disability.

I arrived at SRVS and met with Lindsay Weaver. Lindsay is the SRVS volunteer and activities coordinator. She’s also a Volunteer Odyssey alumna, which helped her score her current job. Once again, volunteerism proves to help awesome people net awesome opportunities!

The day I volunteered was a quiet day at the SRVS community, and I spent most of my time observing a couple of classrooms and being a lunch buddy. SRVS clients are divided up into classrooms under the guidance of a SRVS staff member or two. Each group spends their days doing different activities, learning new skills, and eating lunch together. Having participated in Volunteer Odyssey, Lindsay knows both the importance and the challenges of getting photos, so she offered to help out by taking all the photos. Thanks Lindsay!

For the first part of the day, I hung out with Tony and Ralph as they worked on color-sorting skills. The classrooms look similar to ones food at schools with tables and chairs, fun games, and color posters.

DSC_3906Tony and Kat color-categorizing some colorful plastic insects.

I had arrived close to lunchtime, and soon Lindsay whisked me off to the dining hall, where the first group of classrooms ate. The dining hall reminded me much of a typical school cafeteria –lunch boxes out, teachers monitoring the aisles, and plenty of jokes and laughter.

During lunch, I had the privilege of meeting Adrian, a longtime SRVS staff member and all-around good guy. While Adrian has held a variety of direct and indirect service positions, he currently works directly with clients, and anyone watching him can tell not only how much he enjoys his job, but how much the SRVS clients and staff enjoy his presence.

After lunch, I visited a second classroom where SRVS staff member Annette led students to a model apartment setup where the group practiced making a bed, folding clothes, and ironing before she quizzed them with flashcards of typical household items. My volunteer time at SRVS came to an end, and I left the model apartment to chat with Lindsay about my experiences.

While programs are in place to help disabled children attend public school, more are needed for when these same students graduate and are left without that support system. SRVS allows people with disabilities a myriad of opportunities by teaching life skills, providing community, and, at times, job placement. SRVS is one of the most comprehensive programs of its kind and I’m excited to watch it continue its good work!

Thank you for reading! Like what you read? Kat Franchino is a freelance writer and an avid blogger. She will happily take on any writing challenges. Contact her at katfranchino@yahoo.com or jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com.

 

—————————————————————————————————————————————————
If you like our work, please DONATE to keep it going!
Want the insider story and more pictures? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!
——————————————————————————————————————————————————
——————————————————————————————————————————————————

Assisting Adults with Disabilities

Have you ever wondered if there were any special care facilities in Memphis for adults with disabilities? Furthermore, if they provided good-quality care with passionate employees and a giving spirit? I have. On Day 2 of my Volunteer Odyssey I found the answer.

SRVS “the family answer for disabilities” (their slogan) stands for Shelby Residential and Vocational School, pronounced, “serves”. They’re all about making sure individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities receive the care they need and truly deserve. I had the pleasure of working in a couple of classrooms and meeting some very fun and exciting students. One student I had the pleasure of meeting was Sandra. Sandra is 56 years old and has a myriad of mental and physical challenges that made her accomplishments at SRVS even more amazing. Sandra was an absolute delight and taught me the many different skills learned when learning the fundamentals of arithmetic. She taught me how to count, color coordinate trees and find patterns in pictures.

Sandra teaching patterns

Sandra teaching patterns

 

Learning with friends is always fun!

Learning with friends is always fun!

Perhaps the never-ending winter has impacted the city, but not the staff’s love of their clients. Astrid French was very energetic and was very proud of the work she has accomplished as curriculum coordinator at SRVS. She mentioned how SRVS offers cutting-edge programming such as the Montessori teaching methods implemented through an innovative curriculum. I had to Google “Montessori teaching methods” and immediately saw its prevalence at SRVS. The clients seemed happy and constantly busy so maybe Montessori is the way to go. I’m no expert, but I do know what I saw was a group of people not only learning but enjoying the process of learning and for me, that’s what makes the difference.

Another student I had the pleasure of meeting

Another student I had the pleasure of meeting

 

SVRS receives many donations and books are at the top of the list :)

SVRS receives many donations and books are at the top of the list :)

—————————————————————————————————————————————

If you like our work, please consider making a donation to keep it going!

Want the insider story and more pictures? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!

—————————————————————————————————————————————

 

SRVS: A special encounter

Today was my first day to go on my Volunteer Odyssey.  I was sent to SRVS which is pronounced as “serves.”  This non-profit is where adults with disabilities can come learn new tasks through sensory play, art, music, dance, reading, math, and apartment living to even cooking in the kitchen.  When I first learned that I would be going to SRVS, I was really nervous but excited.  Even though I am an adult, I have never felt comfortable working with people with disabilities.  I would never know what to say and I would have trouble figuring out what they are trying to say to me. But all that changed today when I went to SRVS.  I just made sure I went in with a positive attitude and talk to them the way you and I would talk.

photo (4)

When I arrived at SRVS, I was introduced to Allison Renner who gave me a tour of the facility and she discussed what the clients get to do in each area.  I felt like I was at a really cool school with fun activities to keep me busy all day long.  Then I was placed in a room where I helped the clients with sensory play.  Even though I was still a little nervous, I finally felt at ease once I sat down and started working with Rosalyn and Denitia.  Rosalyn was working on tracing her letters and repeating what each letter was.  Denitia was working on numbers by looking at the number and putting the right amount of sticks in each slot.  I was also introduced to Debby who is a teacher that floats from room to room.  She talked to me about the sensory play that they teach to each client.  A simple task, for example, taking marbles out of one bucket and placing those marbles into another bucket would be easy for a person like you and me, but for people with developmental disabilities, it could take a year to learn.  I could see the excitement in their faces once they got that task accomplished and in Debby’s face on getting to witness their accomplishments.  I believe it is rewarding when you can simply see the smile on their faces light up.  After sensory play, we got a break and watched The Price is Right, which they really love to watch them spin the wheel.  They love to pretend that they are spinning the wheel and call out the numbers for the right price.  Before I knew it, it was time to go to lunch.  Overall, I believed I learn more from them than they did from me. Just because they have a disability does not mean they are incapable of doing a simple task, they just need the extra guidance to help keep them be independent. I really give credit to the staff because it takes a lot of time and patience to work with their clients on day to day tasks.  Once you take the time to be positive and get out of your comfort zone anything is possible.

photo (3)

I am truly blessed to know that Memphis SRVS “serves” people no matter what the disability.  This is a very happy place to go to if you ever get the opportunity.  Before coming to SRVS, when I would be out in public and see a person with a disability I would try to avoid them.  I know that was wrong.  We are all God’s children and deserved to be loved and treated with respect.  Just because a person might be different does not mean we should treat them different.  As it says in the Bible, “Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above.”  Bottom line; do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.  You never know what might be in store for you.

photo (7)

 

——————————————————————————————————————————

If you like our work, please consider making a contribution to keep it going!

Want the insider story and more pictures? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!

———————————————————————————————————————————

———————————————————————————————————————————