FBISD Student Leadership 101 Cohorts explore leadership in community volunteerism (1/12/2016)
FORT BEND ISD – It has
been said that volunteering is good for the heart and the soul. To speak on
that truth, area community leaders shared their experiences in community
volunteerism with members of Fort Bend ISD’s Student Leadership 101 Program
during a recent session.
To help the students
understand that it takes a team of volunteers to ensure that abused children
receive the help they need, Ruthanne Mefford, Chief Executive Officer of Child
Advocates of Fort Bend, explained the types of services provided through CASA House.
She also led students in a role-play exercise demonstrating the process
children go through when placed in Child Protective Services and the various
volunteers required to ensure children's safety. Students Queen Onyeahialam of
Austin High School and Luke Metzer of Dulles High School performed as victims
of child abuse, while other cohorts performed as individuals who provide
assistance to the children.
Following the exercise,
Metzer admitted that he felt overwhelmed and confused. “When my personal items
were taken away from me, I felt like I had lost a part of myself,” he said.
“You can just imagine
what actual children who are placed in CPS go through,” said Mefford. “It’s
really tough for the kids being in an unfamiliar setting away from their family
and friends. Our goal is to help heal the hurt and provide children with a
voice so that they can have a happy childhood.”
After leading the
students on a tour of the facility, Mefford encouraged them to consider
volunteering at CASA House.
During their visit to
Bethel Ministries, Carolyn Tarver, Founder of Project SMILE, explained how she
turned a personal tragedy into a rewarding volunteer experience that has
benefited thousands of children over the years. Following the loss of her only
child, Stan, Tarver devoted her life to making the world a better place for
children and their families. “I have learned that beauty can rise out of the
ashes of tragedy,” she said.
Tarver is fortunate to
work with Becky Torres, Director of Mission Outreach for Bethel Ministries, and
a team of generous donors and volunteers in providing educational services
(including tutorials, after-school care and school supplies), holiday meals and
Christmas toys to children and families in need of assistance. They began
assisting 20 children in 1984, but now assist more than 1,800 children each
year. During the holidays, they partner with area service clubs to provide toys
to children through Santa’s Exchange.
Like Mefford, Tarver
also informed the students of volunteer opportunities available at Bethel
Ministries and invited them to join in the effort.
“This session was really
beneficial to me,” admitted Jane Cloninger of Dulles High School. “We focus on
volunteerism in high school but mostly for the hours. To see someone whose
career is based on volunteering is really eye-opening. Choosing to devote your
life to helping people is really cool.”
Phillip Le of Bush High
School agreed, and said, “I thought the session was interesting because we
visited with different people who are making a big difference in our community.
They are volunteering their time out of the goodness of their hearts and are
setting good examples for us to follow.”
Student Leadership 101
Program Facilitator Michael Madden understands the importance of community
volunteerism and was proud to help present this session to students.
“This session on
Leadership in Community Volunteerism is probably the most dynamic and important
session of the entire cohort experience because it allows the students to see
that volunteerism is interwoven into every session that they’ll take part in
this year,” said Madden. “Whether learning about the medical, business,
government or judicial fields, the students will learn how important
volunteerism is in reference to what our community and business leaders are
doing. Volunteerism is at the root of everything they do within their jobs.”
The cohorts ended the
session by taking part in StrengthsFinder activities led by Brandi
Breckenridge, Talent Management and Development Consultant. Breckenridge helped
the students understand different components of a strength (including talents,
knowledge and skills), and encouraged them to put their strengths into
practice. The cohorts also received printouts of their top five talent themes
based on the results of a StrengthsFinder assessment.
Photo 1: Pictured at CASA House are (from left):
Sylviane Hoare, CASA Volunteer; Michael Madden, Student Leadership Program
Facilitator; Anthony Amy, Kempner High School; Jenifer Ogu, Bush High School;
Cameron West, Travis High School; Victoria Pride, Travis High School; Ruthanne
Mefford, Chief Executive Officer, Child Advocates of Fort Bend; and Julie
Duplechain, Program Facilitator and Community Engagement Specialist.
2: Ruthanne Mefford collects personal items from Luke Metzer of
Dulles High School and Queen Onyeahialam of Austin High School during
a role-play activity.
3: Cohorts shown during a presentation at CASA House.
4: Becky Torres, Director of Mission Outreach for Bethel
Ministries, and Carolyn Tarver, Founder of Project SMILE, speak to
students on volunteerism.
5: Pictured at Bethel Ministries are (from left): Sanika Phanse,
Dulles High School; Becky Torres, Bethel Ministries; Michael Madden,
Program Facilitator; Heather Wickstrand, Ridge Point High School;
Carolyn Tarver, Project SMILE; Lillian Bajor, Ridge Point High
School; Queen Onyeahialam, Austin High School; and Julie Duplechain,
Program Facilitator and Community Engagement Specialist.
6: Brandi Breckenridge, Talent Management and Development
Consultant (right), distributes activity packets to students (from
left) Zander Tedjo, Clements High School; Cameron West, Travis High
School; and Sanika Phanse, Dulles High School.
7: Shown with their top five StrengthsFinder themes are
(clockwise from top): Julia Shepstone, Austin High School; Anjali
James, Hightower High School; and Kennedy Verge, Kempner High School.
8: Completing a StrengthsFinder activity are Jane Cloninger,
Dulles High School; and Vianca Jimenez, Kempner High School.
previous articles highlighting the 2015-2016 Student Leadership 101