Plunge into Leadership

letr-polar-plunge-logo.jpgStaff in the Leadership Institute organizes different teams for Leader Advancement Scholarship recipients to be on. This year, I had the joy of being on the Polar Plunge lead team. Lead teams have helped me over the past three years get to know members in different cohorts, work as a team and help in the community.

On the Polar Plunge team, my duties were to help fundraise, spread the word about joining the Leadership Institute’s team, get other organizations to create their own teams and help set up for the event. I reached out to my sales fraternity to learn they were already in the works of creating a Polar Plunge team.

The day of the event, I moved tables and chairs around and set up the changing curtains. I did this all in the morning before the event started.

With the help of our team, we helped Special Olympics raise money to send athletes to the games. We helped recruit others to participate in this wonderful event and spread the word about Special Olympics. We also helped assist in set-up for free, saving them money to put towards the athletes instead of hiring help.

This was the first year for this lead team, and as it continues to be a team I know it will grow stronger. We played around with what we were able to do to help the Polar Plunge event, so there is definitely room to grow. The suggestions I would give to future members to build what our team started are to pass out fliers teaching others how to build a team and speak about the event in classes.

I love Polar Plunge and want to look in to the opportunity of being on the student committee for next year’s event.

 

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Alternative Winter Break: Access to Sports and Recreation

For winter break, I decided to give up a week to volunteer my time in Asheville, North Carolina. Eleven students and I packed our belongings Saturday night after finals and started helping on Monday. My group partnered with a YMCA in Asheville where we assisted them for the week. Tasks included: power washing buses, cooking rice, talking about healthy eating and exercising in schools, landscaping, sorting fruits and vegetables, and working mobile food markets.

The first day, we power washed three buses. Power washing was helpful to the YMCA because they were going to sell the buses and put the money towards programs for kids. We also had to push one of the buses out of the grass and into the parking lot. This helped the YMCA because without us, they would have had to pay over $150 for someone to tow it. That would have taken money away from programs.

Next, I headed to the kitchen.

I helped cook whole grain rice for students at a school so they could see healthy food can taste good. At the school, we handed out worksheets about the importance of colorful plates. With the lesson, students would be better informed on fruits and vegetables. At a different school, we facilitated a game of Simon Says. We incorporated different exercises to get students up and moving. Not only did it get students to exercise, but it also taught them different exercises they might not have known.

As much as I preferred to be inside where it was warm, I also had to put on work gloves and pull some weeds.

Landscaping helped the YMCA because they needed weeds cleared out for kids to be able to play. We did not clear out every single weed, but every bit helped. Somewhere down the line, some sort of structure will most likely be put in the area. In the past, students that went on the same Alternative Break installed a disc golf course and gaga ball pit.

Everything I did on the break was fun, but my favorite part was the direct service handing out food.

Many grocery stores in the Asheville area donate the fruits and vegetables that are not “shelf-quality” to the YMCA. The YMCA then sorts through all of the fruits and vegetables, throwing away the moldy and squishy produce. They keep what is edible, sort them in crates, load the truck and distribute the food in the community for free. When distributing the food, there is no questions asked about income.

Our role as a group was important because we provided extra hands. We allowed the process to run more efficiently by reducing the time it takes to sort and load the food. Because we reduced the time, we were able to load more food in the trucks before it was time to go. The workers at the YMCA said we broke their record for the most mouths fed. Not only is this important in itself, but we also did all the work right before the holiday season. The families we supplied food to would not go hungry on the holidays.

 

One thing I’ve taken away from this experience is to not waste food. Just because something doesn’t look picture perfect doesn’t mean it’s not edible. There are plenty of people in the world who would love to eat the food people throw away because it has a brown spot or is a little squishy.

Another thing I learned is tasks may seem little and easy to me, but they could really help someone else. Moving the bus from the grass to the parking lot took very little time and effort for the group. However, without us, there would have only been two staff members for the task. They could not have done it alone. This would have resulted in having to hire someone. I will keep this lesson in mind and remember that little things to me could make a huge impact on someone else.

Saving the Environment, One Step At A Time

We leave the home and go to sporting events or meetings and have the option to purchase or take bottled water with us. We go to the grocery store and see cases of plastic containing the beverage as we maneuver our way through the store, sometimes even picking a case up and buying it. When I was in high school, I took a new plastic water bottle to school with me every day. I would pull it out of my lunch box, drink it, refill it for cheerleading practice, and repeat the cycle the next day. When I came to college, I realized I was not being effective with my money and I was also hurting the environment. Although many of us have been drinking out of plastic water bottles at sporting events, in class, at meetings, and at home since we were little kids, I firmly believe that plastic water bottles are harmful in a few different ways; simply buying a reusable bottle is much better.

Plastic water bottles are harmful to our pockets and our oceans. According to Anthony Giorgianni, people can spend up to 700 times more buying plastic water bottles as opposed to drinking tap water. He calculated that it costs 1.3 tenths of a cent to fill up a 16.9 ounce water bottle in New York City, while it costs 95 cents to buy an individual plastic water bottle (the cost is based on after receiving the bottle deposit back). If someone were to fill up a 16.9 ounce water bottle once a day for a year in New York City, at the end of the year they would have paid 48 cents for water. If someone were to drink one store-bought plastic water bottle every day for a year, they would end up paying $346 for water. Think about it. People tend to drink more than 16.9 ounces in a day. A person who pays $10 a year for tap water would spend that much on 10 individually bought water bottles. Plastic water bottles are not just expensive, they are also harmful to the environment.

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According to the Science of The Total Environment, industrial activities, fishing activities, and the general population produce macro plastics, such as water bottles, that end up in the ocean. The plastics sink, fragment, and degrade in the water causing issues for marine life when ingested; the chemicals in plastic travel along the food chain. An example of movement throughout the food chain is when crayfish ingest fragmented pieces of plastic. The Plastic-Water-Bottles-Seabed-Pollution-300x199chemicals travel from crayfish that are eaten by larger fishes to whales. The International Union for Conservation of Nature says that plastic debris in the ocean have major environmental impacts on marine animals, causing them to suffocate, become tangled, cause reproductive issues, and indigestion. In addition, chemical additives in plastics spread throughout the food chain, as seen with the crayfish example, effecting more than just the original animal to ingest the plastic.

A simple step in improving our bank accounts and the environment would be to buy a reusable water bottle. It would be a one-time purchase that you will have until it breaks or lose it. It would have the same convenience as a disposable plastic water bottle, only you would not have to make multiple purchases. They are better for the environment because they are not thrown away after every single use, therefore not making their way to the ocean.

Given the advantages, it is more useful for people to buy reusable water bottles because it will benefit their pockets and the environment. I encourage you to share this information with your friends and family, and hopefully stop supporting bottled water. I challenge you to turn down a plastic water bottle next time you are offered one, and remember that you are making a positive impact on the environment.