Wednesday letters: CMC students learn civic engagement lessons

Leadership, ethics and social responsibility

Community engagement invites community members into the decision-making strategy to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate solutions to issues affecting their daily lives and environments. Community engagement can take various forms and involve varying partners working together collectively. 

In my leadership, ethics, and social responsibility class at Colorado Mountain College, we were responsible for engaging in a community engagement project that could impact the community. I went to Centro de la Familia in Rifle for my community engagement experience to help children obtain a proper education. Centro de la Familia is a part of the Head Start program. They are a federal program that promotes children’s school readiness from birth to age five from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Centro’s Head Start programs provide a learning environment that supports children’s growth in many areas, such as language, literacy, and social and emotional development. They emphasize the role of parents as their child’s first and most important teachers. 

These programs help build relationships with families that support family well-being and many other vital areas. I have learned that these programs target to elevate underprivileged communities from miseries by bringing some essential services to them. 

Centro de la Familia is a crucial part of our community because Centro works closely with families and children to close the achievement gap, especially among at-risk and rural populations. These services increase children at Centro’s chance of graduating from high school and pursuing higher education. Families are connected to ongoing sources for continuous, accessible services within our communities that meet our basic needs. 

Centro de la Familia is a valuable part of our community. I hope to see it expand throughout the valley and Colorado to provide these services to needy families.

Shayna Koran, Rifle

Taking the load off at Journey Home

I volunteered at the Journey Home Animal Care Center in Rifle for my Community Engagement Service-Learning Project. This animal shelter is available for adoption and fostering opportunities, has a veterinary clinic, and has many volunteer positions. 

I volunteered the weekend before Thanksgiving, so it was less busy than some other days because many animals would be fostered out for the holiday. My boyfriend and I volunteered together, mainly doing chores such as dishes and laundry. I didn’t expect my volunteer work to be these chores at first, but I understood the importance after a little bit of time. 

We were inexperienced in the daily duties of the staff at the JHACC. They have to care for each animal’s needs, some with very specific ones we were not equipped to handle. Between chores, I read notes about some of the animals in the kennels and realized that every animal has their own issues that must be considered when doing anything like feeding, walking, or even socializing. 

Like people, they all come from different backgrounds and have different personalities that the staff pay attention to and know about. After realizing the reality of the shelter staff, it was understandable why the first-time volunteers would help with the chores. We were taking these tasks off the staff’s plate to free up more time, so they could focus on the animals. They ensured all the animals were fed in the morning, and we took care of the food bowls. It was the same thing when they would clean kennels; we would wash the blankets. 

It may not have been the most exciting work for our first day of volunteering, but it was helpful to the staff and the shelter animals. We left with a different perspective because volunteer work doesn’t always need to be fun or exciting; it needs to be for the greater good of the organization and overall community. That was the goal of this project, and I believe it taught me so much more about community engagement.

Angelina Vasquez, Silt

Bringing joy to nursing home

Recently, I decided to volunteer at a nursing home as I was previously a Certified Nurse Aide and felt I would have something to work with. Frequently, it is overlooked how much depression there is in nursing homes, so I decided this would be a good place for me to volunteer. 

As a CNA, I experienced activities for residents that weren’t always inclusive for those unable to speak or move on their own. When I volunteered, I went with a mindset to change that, and I did. I began by throwing in my ideas and prior experience working with the elderly, which led those in charge to keep my thoughts in mind. 

At the beginning of my volunteer time, many employees didn’t think my ideas would work because I wanted to include people who aren’t usually involved. Still, the reality is that they are not engaged because they are often not given a chance to be or even get discouraged. 

After a lot of convincing, I implemented inclusive activities for everyone. It turned out to have the best outcome, as we could tell people were much happier. 

I encourage people to do things like community service and try to look for the best effect and how to make a change in someone else’s life. You never really know the difference you could make.

Crystal Vargas, Parachute

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