Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Notes to update you

The 2 month mark!

Yesterday marked two months since my arrival in Ridgely.  Can you believe it?!?  I think the next seven months just flashed before my eyes. 

We survived the hurricane.  Sandy left many in devastation, but we here are so blessed.  The past couple days in school were crazy with limited staff available, but we made it and all of the students are safe and well.  There is some water damage, many trees down & debris, and a lot of water standing-- better outside than in.  As has been reported, millions lost power, but again, somehow we did not!  Thank you for your thoughts, concern, and prayers!!  We all will keep in mind & prayer those who are greatly in need. 

I am on my 28th scarf!  We are in a knitting frenzy as the holidays grow closer (yes, it's almost November!).  This past weekend was one of wonderful celebration.  Saturday was Sister Catherine's 50th Jubilee-- acknowledging 50 years in the monastic community.  It was beautiful and a blessing to be here for it.  Sunday a few of us were able to share with the family of Sister Patricia in celebrating a special birthday! 

I love the variety I have here in all of my ministries.  [A bit from my recent journaling...]  Each day is full of joy and smiles.  I find myself... On fire with the love of service with one another…  Some days are windy, some almost extinguish the flame, but it is the days—or hours—of tranquility during which the flame still burns. 

Love is underestimated.  Think about the word love that we so often use loosely, without consideration.  [Disclaimer: this all may sound copied, as no idea is a new one; however I’m processing and rambling for you.]  Love is the first breath we take in upon waking.  Something gets us out of bed; even if we think it’s fear of losing a job it might actually be love for the family we support or respect for our own dignity.  Love is laced in the trees as they nod to one another; it is the wonder of a child; it is in the eyes of the weary blessed again with a meal. 
Love requires another.  In my “service”—this is such a general term—I continually reconfirm that nothing is worthwhile alone.  Persons enrich my every day, helping me to be comfortable and thriving. 

More about my service sites (part 2)

The cash register project: Whether or not I have spoke of this project in my previous blog posts, the endeavor of the year thus far has been the process of new cash registers at the Barn.  For the past few (5-6?) weeks I have been programming, formatting, re-formatting, assigning & re-assigning PLUs, repeat each step, etc. new cash registers as well as familiarizing and training cashiers in order to install the new machines.  Though at times the project seemed never-ending, I have benefited from it.  I have learned from myself and gotten to know my co-workers and fellow volunteers more than I otherwise may have been able to.  I learned about the thrift shop and garage from an inverted approach in taking on this project.  The cash registers have been installed and we continue to train cashier volunteers and employees.  There is more to develop, but I now can begin to look forward to the next project.  

I really enjoy my Wednesday nights in addition to some Thursday and Friday mornings that I have been at the Barn for food distribution.  Though I cannot relate from personal experience to many persons receiving food, they are an incredible inspiration to me.  I have realized especially recently the ways in which stories and faces of humility have touched me.  We at the Barn are incredibly blessed that we have food to give to those in need here in Caroline County and the surrounding area.  

During food distribution, I interview clients one at a time.  We need to update each person’s file every time they come in to receive food.  Each client/family can receive food once per month.  We make small talk, check that nothing has changed since the previous month or visit, and record with signatures that the person receives food.  There are volunteers that put together a box and cart of food according to family size while the rest of us talk with clients.  For each there are dry and canned goods, as well as some assortment of frozen meat, breads and sweets, and we still have some fresh produce to give.  The thrift shop and garage with items to purchase with voucher or cash are open during these times.  

I hope that these descriptions are slowly giving you a better idea of my days here.  Feel free to write to me with any further questions or requests! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Photos at Benedictine

enjoying music class! 
In the ITC-- working on "bubbles"   

more "bubbles" in ITC

playing a drum in the music room

More on my service sites! (Part 1)

I've been thinking about how my initial description of my service sites does not do justice to any of them.  I have experienced and enjoyed so much at each place.  I have many wonderful stories to share of each day here.  I'll start with some daily happenings. 

My week starts in the school, so I'll begin there.  Benedictine School for Exceptional Children has a great website which I suggest you take a look at: benschool.org  Their mission upholds the dignity of the human person I reflected on in my recent blog post.  I go to a classroom never knowing what to expect.  Each day is different; each day I learn something; each day there is at least one difficult situation or student but also many things that brighten my day.  Upon arriving in a classroom I may find each student in his/her desk quietly or I may find three of the four students lying on the floor while the fourth is loudly proclaiming some combination of vowel sounds from her chair.  The size of the classrooms varies from three to six students with anywhere from two to six staff (one teacher, with teacher's assistants). 

In a typical day I will work individually with a student at his/her workstation.  Depending on the student's abilities, he might do an activity such as matching shapes, completing a puzzle, or snapping lids onto small plastic containers.  Next we might go to music class.  The music time is adapted for the students.  The students respond well to this type of music therapy as they play hand instruments and/or sing along to children's sing-a-longs.  It is beautiful observing how the students open up in this environment when they otherwise do not.  We then may have snack time, leisure time, or a fitness walk in the gym.  Oftentimes I help out at lunch; after lunch there is transition time.  Following this may be more individual work time, Home Ec, and/or swim time. 

In Home Ec the students use electronic devices that take them step by step through putting together a snack.  The process is broken down to individual food items, spoon, bowl, taking a scoop of something, putting that in the bowl, etc.  The students are able to practice skills such as scooping, spreading with a knife, opening lids, and of course following directions.  Many of the kids love swim time.  Some of them even have a half hour of individual swim time; this is a great way to channel some of their energy. 

The students get almost one-on-one attention; most students also go to individual activities every day which helps the teachers to minimize the number of kids in a classroom at one time.  As well as individual swim time, students have OT, PT, counseling or therapy sessions, and also participate in life skills that earn them "money."  In the ITC (Industrial Training Center) simple skills are practiced by such things in putting together kits with various parts or screwing caps on test tube vials and boxing them.  As mentioned in my first blog post, the Benedictine Programs include the Adult Services Graphics Department: Print Shop that designs and prints paper products such as invitations, clothing embroidery area, and screen printing department --all for businesses, etc in the surrounding area; Busy Bees cleaning service, Baker Bees, Bees car wash, and Bee Blossoms who have their own greenhouse and flower business.  Though students assist in some of these programs, they are mostly for graduates in the adult day program. 

As this is from my perspective and experiences, I again encourage you to visit the school's website: benschool.org

More on my experiences soon!  Know you each are in my thoughts with gratitude for your support!  

Monday, October 8, 2012


It has been a lovely October so far!!  I spent the weekend at the beach which was wonderful.  Quite a contrast from Minnesota, it was in the 80s and sunny Friday and Saturday.  Yesterday it was chilly (50s), windy, and rained off and on all day.  Fall is again in the air. 

For now I wanted to check in for those of you wondering my state of being.  I am working on a couple of posts to be published soon!  May the sunshine brighten your days this week.