June 1, 2011

by: Tammy Gibson Willet

Making a Difference

During the week of May 23rd, UCP had the privilege of hosting a group of Hawken Middle School eighth grade volunteers.  The group was here for three days completing a mural with the adult clients and participating in social activities with the clients, as well as assisting staff with a variety of projects including maintenance, gardening and office work.  The students did a great job and the clients had a wonderful time getting to know the students and playing games. 

The curriculum of every grade-level at Hawken Middle School ties into an “essential question” that provides a greater level of depth and meaning to what they learn.  These essential questions lead the students through an experience that asks them to relate what they learn to their own values, and the values of those around them. In the eighth grade, students ask themselves, “How can I make a difference in the global community?”  As a part of this process, students volunteer at various nonprofit organziations in their community.  Two of the students who volunteered at UCP offered to share their experience. 

Mother Teresa once said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”  In other words, you should start small by helping a few people, and slowly work up and help more. Hello, I’m Dennis, an eighth grader at Hawken Middle School. For the end of the year project, we got to choose to volunteer at a certain organization. I really enjoy working with the community and helping other people. In our school, we were able to choose from working in the environment, health and wellness, and hunger and homelessness. I chose to work in health and wellness because it pleasures me to see people getting better. Then, when my teacher Mr. Brandt, an excellent math teacher at Hawken, described the kinds of work we would be doing in UCP, and the people we would be helping, I knew that the place would be right for me. When we got there, we had many activities to choose from, and I started out with painting a mural. We chose the theme “Joining Hands for a Better World” and got handprints from all the clients which were then put on the painting to create and epic masterpiece.

On the next day, I worked with the clients. It was really interesting getting to know them better and understanding their experiences. We played many games like hangman, bowling, and others, and it really made me feel closer to the clients. Despite first appearances, these people were all very easygoing and fun. Through all these experiences, I learned a very valuable lesson: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Pretty much it means that you shouldn’t judge people by a first glance. Get to know them better and they could be very different people.

I really enjoyed working with all these people, and hope to do it again soon.

Dennis, Hawken Middle School 8th Grader

My name is Mara, and I am an eighth grader at Hawken School.  As the school year comes to a close, every eighth grader was given the chance to spend three days working with a local organization.  Being in the health and wellness group, I got the privilege of coming to UCP.

The past three days here have been very meaningful.  I have spent most of my time helping to create a mural.  The mural reads “Joining Hands for a Better World” and depicts the earth being held up by two hands.  The entire background consists of hand and finger prints added on by the clients of UCP.

Helping to create this mural has been a very meaningful experience.  Many of the clients seem very happy to be helping us, and it is a great feeling to know that we have made their days.  I had a lot of fun meeting many of the clients, as they are fun to joke around with and talk to.  In the end, with the assistance of my friends from Hawken, the clients, and many others, we created a wonderful mural that will hopefully be put up soon.   I have had a great time volunteering at UCP.  It is a fantastic organization that does wonderful things to help its clients.  I hope that the organization continues to thrive, and that I get a chance to come back soon.

Mara, Hawken Middle School 8th Grader


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