A Chance to Change

Written by Rotaract Oshkosh member, Candice M. Lane.

Growing up, I was never the one involved in clubs and service organizations like so many of my peers. My parents never pushed for Student Council Presidency; straight A’s were not my forte, and I failed at every frivolous fundraiser I attempted. Skip to my college years: Same lack of effort. Whether it was failure to commit or a continuous attempt to hide from the unknown, I let efforts to do or try more fall to the wayside.

When I was approached to be a part of Rotaract Oshkosh, I felt the initial fear again; what if I fail? What if I am not as involved as everyone else; will that show a lack of commitment? But, despite it all, I began signing up here and there for times I would be able to give back.

That’s when I started to realize a change: A change in maturity and a change in thinking. For once, it wasn’t about the fear of failing because, in my mind, even one hour of helping was 60 more minutes of holding the hand of someone who needed it. It meant 60 less minutes of living only for me. Sixty less minutes of the bar scene; 60 less minutes of mind-sucking television shows, and 60 more minutes for me to simply be me by helping someone else.

A few weeks ago I was approached by a friend as to the meaning of Rotaract. Before I could give my definition rather than the one she found on Google, she was already exclaiming, “You think you can change the world? Get real.” At first disheartened by the fool she made me appear to be, I came to peace with that statement one evening at the food pantry.

In my heart, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to change the world with one evening, but I could change me. I could change my thinking towards the importance of 60 minutes. I could change the heavy load weighing on this particular pantry, bogged down by boxes and boxes of food donations. For 60 minutes, I could ease the stress of one pantry, this pantry, this community…and the people in this community who need this pantry.

Have I completely thrown myself into volunteering? No, but I have made a step towards volunteering more. My participation in Rotaract Oshkosh likely won’t change the world, but this group is doing things to help change the community—and I’m a part of that.

The next opportunity to volunteer at the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry is 5-7 pm on Monday, 1 April. If you would like to participate, please join the event on Facebook or send a note to [email protected]

Second Saturday at Christine Ann

Written by Virginia Pliska, Rotaract Oshkosh

Time has flown by!

Hard to believe it’s already been a month since our last visit to the Christine Ann Center. On Saturday, 16 February, Rotaracters were welcomed back to the center and ready to work. [If you’re dropping by for the first time, the Christine Ann Center is a non-profit organization providing comprehensive domestic violence programs and services to communities in Winnebago and Green lake counties.  To learn more visit their website at http://www.christineann.net.)

Another Saturday at the Christine Ann |  Rotaract OshkoshOur mission on a bright and chilly Saturday morning was to clear out the gift room.  Many gifts had already been handed out to residents and the room is needed for other uses.  The remaining items needed to make the trek to Goodwill so that others can benefit from the generous donations.  The room was packed with a wide variety of gifts, from cosmetics and lotions to books and blankets and other items to prepare the residents for the next steps in their journey.  We carefully organized and boxed each item.  While packing didn’t take too long, getting the items out of the basement and into the garage took a little longer.

Another Saturday at the Christine Ann | Rotaract Oshkosh

Once everything was in the garage, we helped move a donation of diapers to the attic.  Our team created quite the assembly line that involved 3 flights of stairs and sometimes soaring diapers (don’t worry; no diapers were harmed in the move.) We had a wonderful afternoon helping a great organization and getting an intense workout lifting boxes.  Our effort helped keep the donations organized and accessible to those who need them.  (For more information on how donations are used and collaborations for excess donations please contact Dale at the Christine Ann center or (920) 235-5998.)

The Christine Ann Center is an amazing place full of hope and support.  We can’t wait to see how we can help next time!

P.S. for those who came in January, the playroom and storage area still look impeccable!

 

Second Saturday at the Christine Ann | Rotaract Oshkosh

 

Saturday at the Christine Ann Center

Written by Dan Snyder

Happy New year, everyone! January marks a new year and our first volunteer opportunity of 2013. On January 5th, a group of Rotaracters visited the Christine Ann Center for the day.

Although many of us knew recognized it, we weren’t fully aware of its overarching goals and inner workings. The Christine Ann Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families affected by domestic violence. The Center has an ambitious mission, one that depends on community support. You can read about their mission and their services at their website: http://www.christineann.net

Arriving on Saturday morning, we were ready for anything. After brief introductions and some background information, we were tasked with organizing the Center’s food pantry and play area. We split into two teams to tackle the projects and, as it happened, the boys handled the food while the girls took care of the play area. This seemed to work out perfectly since the children’s play area was brimming with toys, books and games…and the ladies were pretty darn organized.

Christine Ann Center
Look at all those toys!

Meanwhile, our group was lead to a storage area that holds donated food items for families residing at the house. What with the holiday food drive past, new food donations needed to be sorted and dated. It was a big job, so we split up between canned and dry goods. We made sure things were up to date and arranged everything accordingly. The items that could not be stocked were sent to the food pantry so that nothing went to waste.

In the playroom, the girls had the enormous task of cleaning up the storage area for toys. It was nearly bursting at the seams after the flood of gifts received from the holiday season. The toy room is meant as a place where parents can select toys they think their children would enjoy while at the center. It’s also meant as a store of sorts when birthdays roll around throughout the year. To make room for all the great toys, basketballs, games, stuffed animals and dolls, some toys were packed up and sent to Goodwill so that other families can benefit from the wonderful donations the Christine Ann Center had received. (For more information on how donations are used and collaborations for excess donation please contact Dale at the Christine Ann Center or (920) 235-5998.)

Our tasks that day helped keep the cogs of the Center moving so that families are able to make healthy meals, and children can find some comfort in a place that isn’t the “home” they know. We enjoyed our time at the Christine Ann and can only hope that our small emblem of service makes this heavy and difficult transition easier for those in need of the Center’s many services.

The Christine Ann Center is a wonderful organization and Rotaract Oshkosh is very much looking forward to helping again soon… Until then!

Christine Ann Center
Mission accomplished

Taking Time to “Tink”

Day by Day Warming Shelter | Oshkosh, WIsconsin

Written by Candice Lane

“Tink”, he said in an accent I was unfamiliar with. “Everyone needs to take 30 minutes a day to tink. That is what I do. I take the time to tink.”

Here was a man, a man whose life he carried on his back, who had the ability to bring my day to a roaring halt with one simple word. Think? How in the world was I supposed to have time to think? I had work to do—food to prepare, gifts to get …

Earlier, I found myself gloating about my travel plans, the extra eggnog and gifts I had wrapped in pretty paper and glistening bows. To top off the Christmas season, I was about to add a few hours of holiday helping at the local warming shelter. I had it all together. Unstoppable, I was.

Unstoppable, I believed, until I crashed into the thoughts of this homeless man.

In that one moment, speaking to a man who had voyaged across multiple continents to walk the path he is today, I realized how little I knew. How little I had experienced about myself without the ability to simply sit…and think. As he spoke to another volunteer about his travels, favorite books, and monumental thoughts, I could only stare.

I started to “tink” about the miniscule acts of my day and how, in one conversation, my saving the world seemed to only add to my mind’s demise. Earlier, any space left for thinking was consumed by calculating how many pounds of turkey should be served the next day. Then, in the matter of a minute, my mind was free of any holiday turmoil.

The point in volunteering our time is to reach out and help those in “greater” need, or at least that was my initial assumption upon arriving at Day by Day. Sure, I had a home, a warm bed, and more tangible things than this man—but he gave me a greater gift this season … because as my shift finished and I said my goodbyes, I found myself realizing the power we could all have if we let others teach us just a little bit more, if we started listening to one another and taking just a little bit more time to “tink” each day.

A Night at Day by Day

Day by Day Warming Shelter | Oshkosh, WIsconsin

Written by Jerry Medina

On December 15th, a few of us volunteered at the Day-By-Day Warming Shelter in Oshkosh. It was the first of our two volunteer activities there this month, and the first of what will hopefully be many visits to come.

If you’re not familiar with it already, the Day-By-Day Warming Shelter is a warm place to sleep for those who have fallen on hard times. They can take a shower and get laundry done, and get at least one hearty meal each day. Personally, I didn’t know what to expect, but I can honestly say it was one of my most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

The shelter can only take in 25 people each night. Normally, they operate at capacity, but there were only 18 individuals (all men on this particular night) that came in. Some have part-time jobs, but can’t afford a place to live; others have health conditions that prevent them from obtaining gainful employment; but one thing that was absolutely clear was that these were not people who were simply taking advantage of the service that was being provided to them.

The Shelter opens up by taking in only those individuals who “qualify”. They will not allow drugs or alcohol on the premises, so anyone who tries to bring in any illicit substances will be turned away. Once inside, their belongings are checked to make sure there are no weapons, drugs or other intoxicants. Each person then draws a popsicle stick from a jar with a “chore” on it. The chores are a small way to ensure that guests do just a little something to keep the place clean and orderly. Most tasks just required wiping down tables, chairs, showers, or sweeping and mopping.

Once a chore was selected, the individual could sign up for a shower and get their laundry done. Then, they grabbed a “bin” where their bedding and other personal belongings were kept. Bins were placed next to their mattress beds, which they had to make themselves. Once the beds were made, medications were passed out to those who needed them and food was given. Saturday nights are left-over nights, but in all honesty, they still ate better than I do on any given Tuesday.

Some guests went to bed immediately after dinner, others showered or watched TV for an hour or two. While some did their chores, others talked football or read books they had brought with them or kept in their bins. It was incredible to see how each individual knew what they were supposed to be doing, when they were supposed to be doing it, and what was expected of them.

Since it was my first time volunteering, I was a little lost at times. However, these guys were able to tell me where to find something and what needed to be signed. They were so familiar with the system there that they could literally train me, the person who was supposed to be helping them. Despite them telling me what I was supposed to be doing, I was the one being thanked. I can’t remember the last time, if ever, I have been thanked so many times and I honestly didn’t feel like I was doing that much.

Lights out is at 10:20. Electronics are shut off and everyone is expected to go to bed. The ones who have jobs needed to be up at 6:00 am, so they requested earlier wake up calls. Everyone will get a breakfast bag in the morning, their laundry will be ready, and they will have to leave and take on the day the best way they can.

… Most, if not all, will be back again the following night.

– Jerry

First Volunteer Experience: The Oshkosh Food Pantry

First Volunteer Experience: The Oshkosh Food Pantry

Volunteering at the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry

Written by Becky Snyder

Last Saturday marked the first volunteer group activity for Rotaract Oshkosh at the Oshkosh Area Community Food Pantry. What a great experience it turned into for all of us! We gathered beforehand to enjoy a delicious and plentiful buffet of muffins, bagels & cream cheese, and orange juice – mmm, breakfast of champions! It was a great bonding time and a casual setting where we could get to know one another in a different capacity.

Since joining Rotaract just one month ago, this is already one of my favorite things – the camaraderie. It’s more than just making great friends, but building these service-oriented and fun friendships that you can’t necessarily get at the workplace or in a classroom or out on a Friday night. We all have the same passion for volunteering and have fun in the process!

After enjoying some delicious sustenance, we headed to the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry. Upon arrival, we were greeted and shown to the back kitchen area where we set up shop and got started. Our day consisted of packing donated eggs into cartons, dating, and stocking the refrigerator. It is amazing all the food and items donated – there must have been over 1,000 eggs!

The group packing and labeling eggs

After the eggs were all packed away, we wrapped donated sodas and waters in packs of 6 to be put out on the shelves. That was quite the project and one resident Rotaracter, David, put in motion a genius idea that ended up saving a lot of time and reducing our tape usage and waste. WTG David! 🙂

Jena taping soda

Our last project for the day was dividing donated potatoes into bags for customers. There were a ton of potatoes, which is great with Thanksgiving coming up.

The group stuffing potato bags

Of course the pantry can always use more items. If you would like more information on donating food, please visit the OACP website here. Food donations are accepted all year long, as are volunteers. At the end of our shift we were thanked graciously for our time and efforts, and it reminded me yet again how much volunteers are needed, appreciated, and what a great feeling you get. We felt that we accomplished a lot that morning and really helped out – plus, we had fun and are already looking forward to our next volunteer opportunity.

If you are anything like me, volunteering motivates me – to do good things and to make myself a better person. It is always a reminder that the need for food, winter clothing, proper housing, education, disaster relief, and shelter is present in our community. It’s not just something you see on the news, but something that you can see, literally, in your neighborhood. I was surprised to learn the need for certain things here in Oshkosh, and I am even more surprised that these are things I can help out with. You never know what situations you will be faced with, but right now, I do know that I am in a situation where I can give time and energy to help others. And it’s something I have really come to enjoy!

PS – for more photos of our day at the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry, check out our site’s photo section, visit our Facebook page or view us out on Flickr