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"My Summer of Service:" Sixteen Lilly Center Summer Interns Placed with Nonprofits

October 07, 2011

Category: Academics, Students


Lilly CenterDuring the summer of 2011, the Lilly Center for Vocation and Values at Catawba College provided funding and facilitated the placement of 16 students as interns in the nonprofit sector. On September 15, the interns came together in Tom Smith Auditorium on campus to share highlights from their summer experiences. The evening's program was entitled "My Summer of Service."  

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The Summer Internship program is just one of many initiatives of the Lilly Center that encourage students to explore the employment of their unique gifts and talents in service to others - thereby opening the door to a more meaningful future.

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Lindsay Smith (a junior from Salisbury majoring in Athletic Training and Exercise Science) served as an activity intern with Abundant Living Adult Day Services, a ministry of Lutheran Services for the Aging. This day activity program enables frail older adults and adults with various disabilities to remain in the community through the use of supportive services. A registered nurse, certified nursing assistants, and activity personnel offer medical monitoring, personal care, daily activities, and meals in a safe and supportive environment. The program is certified by the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Aging.

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With plans to pursue a career in physical therapy, Lindsay felt the internship would provide her "an opportunity to work hands on with the elderly with an emphasis on activity and exercise."     In addition, Lindsay had been instrumental in the care of her grandparents who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and had both lived in her family's home in their later years. Barbara Garwood, Executive Director of Abundant Living, felt that Lindsay's career goals and personal experience were indicators that she was uniquely qualified for the position.

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Throughout the course of the summer, Ms. Garwood's intuition proved to be true.     "Lindsay jumped right in as our summer activity intern. She was truly a natural working with the geriatric population. Our program was greatly enriched by her creativity and positive energy. Everyone – participants and staff - benefitted from her presence. We miss her so much," said Garwood.

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Lindsay shared similar feelings,   adding, "Every moment I spent with them, I loved and will cherish for the rest of my life. They all touched me in some way or another. It wasn't all fun and games. We did have some rough days, but it was well worth it. I'd love to do it again next summer!"   Just a couple of days after her internship ended, Lindsay returned to Abundant Living to visit program participants – an indicator of the lasting impact they have had on her career path and life.

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RidenhourAdam Ridenhour (a senior from Advance majoring in Religion and Philosophy) served as a chaplaincy intern with Rowan Regional Medical Center and Hospice of Rowan County. In this capacity, he had the opportunity to explore pastoral care in a hospital setting for the first time. He had completed previous pastoral internships in church settings, but wanted to gain a greater understanding of his vocational calling.

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"During my internship, I had numerous experiences that caused me to wrestle with my faith, my vocation, and the meaning of life. Before the internship, I knew I wanted to enter pastoral ministry, but I was looking more towards the parish setting. After this summer, I believe my true calling is in chaplaincy, where I can help meet the needs of people during the worst times of their lives," said Adam.

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While working as an intern, Adam was supervised by the Rev. James Cook, Director of Chaplaincy Services at Rowan Regional, and Rev. Harold Jordan, Chaplain for Hospice of Rowan County. Rev. Cook shared, "Certainly I'm not the first person to describe Adam as being mature beyond his years. It was an absolute pleasure having him on our team. He was an asset to our program and consistently demonstrated a real desire to better understand the dynamics and complexities of patient care. He genuinely wanted to know patients and their families, so he could help meet their needs. His tremendous faith, compassion for others, and delightful sense of humor will continue to serve him well as he ministers to patients and families experiencing illness, trauma, tragedy, and loss."    

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As one might expect, Adam is a strong proponent of the Lilly Center's Summer Internship Program. "This wonderful experience allowed me to gain knowledge in my area of vocation, my studies as a Religion and Philosophy major, and my faith. I would recommend the program to any student seeking a greater understanding of his or her vocation. Interning exemplifies the interconnectedness of theory and application, forcing us as students to reevaluate our educational and life experiences," he said.

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Lizzle Davis (a junior from East Bend majoring in English with minors in Creative Writing and Elementary Education) served as a summer intern with the Center for Faith and the Arts, whose mission is to strengthen the relationship between the arts and one's spiritual life. She stated that her summer internship provided "a great opportunity to fully immerse myself in the work experience, exploring a prospective vocation to see if it's a good match for my passions, skills, and what I feel is important and vital."

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Sarah Hall, Executive Director of the Center for the Arts, stated, "Lizzle has been ideal intern for the Center for Faith and the Arts. Our summer plays and art galleries were successful, largely due to her efforts. She was also instrumental in an extensive reorganization of our organization's library. Quite frankly, we couldn't have completed any of these projects without her. She was extremely conscientious in carrying out every single assignment, and her commitment to excellence was obvious. Every organization should be blessed with an intern like Lizzle!"

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Lizzle reports that "the most of the rewarding moments of my summer internship were made possible by encountering and overcoming challenges, particularly those related to our two summer plays."     She explained, "The theatre profession was a whole new language for me, and it was difficult at times to find my bearings. There were moments in which I had to use intuition and attentiveness to be able to keep up. I learned to be willing and ready to ask questions, to listen and absorb advice, and to not be afraid to admit when you don't grasp something fully. The cast, crew, producers and directors of both plays had the utmost patience with my lack of theatrical experience, and by the end of the summer, I had gained a good sense of the business of theatre."  

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Steven Jordan (a senior from Salisbury majoring in Business Administration) reports that, when he heard about the Lilly Center's Summer Internship Program, he "immediately jumped at the chance to apply."     Steven was selected as the summer intern for the YMCA of Rowan County's Corporate Office. "The YMCA Corporate office was the most directly business-oriented internship of the bunch, and seemed like it would best fulfill my interest of getting my feet wet in a business environment," said Steven.      

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During his internship, Steven's formal job description was primarily focused on three different areas: accounts payable (preparing/entering invoices into the system), personnel/benefits (new hire documentation), and records retention (sorting/indexing/storing financial records). While he did get significant experience in all three of those areas, the bulk of his duties were related to the management of the YMCA's newly created Summer Backpack Program. Steven was instrumental in this program's growth as partnerships were developed with Rowan Helping Ministries and Main Street Mission.

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Laurie Ward, Human Resources/Development Director at the YMCA stated, "Steven was quickly immersed in the chaos of our brand new Summer Backpack program, which provided food for needy children in our community. He faced multiple challenges head-on as this program grew beyond our original projections to meet the ever-growing needs or our community. Had Steven not been with us this summer, there would not have been enough hours in the day to complete the necessary tasks. Amidst all of this chaos, Steven took initiative and developed confidence."    

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Of his summer experience, Steven said, "My Lilly Center Summer Internship definitely stands out as one of the most rewarding experiences I've had at Catawba, and as one of the best decisions that I've made in my college career. I would certainly encourage anyone who desires to gain real-world experience in one of many different fields available to apply. My experience was invaluable in helping me determine what I want to do after I graduate."

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BaucomCasey Baucom (a junior from Marshville majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in Sociology) served as a summer intern with Partners in Learning Child Development Center, an organization whose mission is to "model the highest quality learning environment and stimulate families and the community to provide opportunities for the optimal growth and development of children."   Casey stated that she chose to pursue a position with Partners in Learning because they operate the only five-star NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accredited school in Salisbury. She felt the internship would provide "the perfect environment in which to gain experience working with young children."

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During the majority of her summer, Casey was assigned as a "floating teacher," working under the supervision of Norma Honeycutt, Director of Partners in Learning. The flexible nature of her position required that Casey work in a different classroom nearly every day of the week. While constantly changing environments was, at times challenging, Casey was undaunted. "It was an awesome experience, because I got to know nearly every child by name, their behavioral tendencies, and the things they enjoyed."

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Clearly impressed with Casey's contributions, Honeycutt added, "During her time as our summer intern, Casey demonstrated the highest level of integrity and possibly the strongest work ethic I have ever seen. She's extremely passionate about children and made a tangible difference in their lives and the lives of their families. Working with her was an absolute joy! As soon as her internship ended, we were excited to be able to offer her a part-time employment while she continues college. Clearly, we didn't want her to leave!"    

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Casey was particularly drawn to those students in the program who had special needs. Several faced challenges associated with autism, mental retardation, and other development disabilities. She has been impressed with philosophy of inclusion practiced by Partners in Learning. "Children with special needs are put in the same classrooms as those without. I think this is important because it teaches children at a young age that it is okay to be different. It touched my heart to go out to the playground and see how a child who could have been   running around with the rest of the kids, would instead chose to guide and hold the hand of a child with special needs. This concept teaches all children to accept and befriend their classmates with differing levels of need. It also teaches those with special needs that they can do anything that other kids can do," said Casey.

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In summing up her Lilly Center Summer Internship experience, Casey excitedly shared, "There is no greater joy than going into work every day and receiving welcoming hugs from these kids. This experience has left me with an aura of excitement for what my future holds as someone who looks to impact children as a way of life. I could not have been happier with the way I spent my summer!"

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Brittany Moore (a senior from Harrisburg and an Environmental Science major) and Josh Owens (a senior  from Mt. Pleasant majoring in  Business Administration) both served as summer interns with Faithful Friends Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill animal shelter in Rowan County, which just completed construction on a million-dollar facility for providing care for abandoned dogs and cats awaiting adoption.

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As an environmentalist, Brittany considered it a plus that Faithful Friends was constructing an environmentally friendly, green facility. The building's design incorporates energy efficient heating, cooling, and lighting systems. Numerous recycled materials were used in its construction, and much of the land surrounding the shelter remains in its natural state. During construction, Brittany was given the opportunity to participate in meetings with contractors, attorneys, insurance agents and representatives of the Department of Agriculture. "I really enjoyed the diversity of my tasks, the job never became routine. There was always something new and exciting to see, do, or learn. I was especially excited on the days I got to work directly with the environmental analyst from the Department of Agriculture. Through this hands-on experience, I learned the specific rules and regulations that animal shelters must comply with before they can even open their doors and why."  

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While Brittany's position with Faithful Friends was more administrative in nature, Josh's duties were involved more manual labor – but were no less rewarding. "I knew I wanted to be placed with an organization that made a difference in the community. One day, I recalled an article that I had read a few months earlier in The Salisbury Post. It told the story of a young girl who asked that those attending her birthday party make a donation of pet food and toys to Faithful Friends, rather than giving her presents. At that point, I decided to check out the organization." Josh assisted with numerous projects during the summer including the aluminum can collection fundraiser, the annual "Pick of the Litter" Yard Sale, and the transformation of an old building on the Faithful Friends property from an eyesore to a functional storage facility for the organization to use.

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A two-time summer intern, Josh stated, "The Lilly Center Summer Internship Program is a great program for Catawba and certainly helps to emphasize the word, service, in the college seal. My experience with Faithfull Friends has fed my belief that I need to go into a line of work where I can truly make a difference."  

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Mackenzie Westbrook (a senior from Charlotte majoring in Theatre Arts) chose a summer internship in the events and cultural development department of the Latin American Coalition of Charlotte. "I applied there because I wanted to work with an organization whose mission benefitted the Charlotte community and provided services to the underprivileged and those in need," Mackenzie said.     She very quickly added, "I also wanted to improve my Spanish skills!"

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The mission of the Latin American Coalition is to promote full Hispanic participation in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region, by informing, educating and advocating for the Latin American community. The Latin American Coalition is dedicated to serving Mecklenburg County's 75,000 Hispanic families with the services that allow them to overcome language, economic, edu