Final Reflective Essay

At the beginning of the semester I has no idea what to expect from this class. I had read the syllabus and felt semi confident that I had it in the bag, until the first day of class and the talk of “service learning” came into play. I was excited and nervous at the same time, I wasn’t use to having that much freedom in a college course. We formed our groups quickly and I was on the ball to emailing Rosemary from the Peter Paul Development Center. http://rampages.us/allenen/79-2/

Not all of our group members could meet with Rosemary at the same time, but little did we know that was the least of our worries. We decided to meet in two groups rather than drag our feet waiting for everyone to somehow come up with the same availability. After the meeting I was amped to start making a difference in the community so my group members and I started brain storming ideas. We first thought of foods around the world, an activity where each member picks a country and brings a certain foreign food for the kids to taste. The idea sounded great until we started over thinking it and couldn’t get all of our group members on board. Then the distribution center came into the picture, a few group members volunteered there and we all collaborated in making recipes cards. http://rampages.us/allenen/food-distribution/

During this time, everything started to become more frustrating. We were pitching various ideas out to see what Rosemary would want us to do. We knew she didn’t want us taking pictures of the kids nor did she want us helping out on the social media side so when every other group was working on their great social media ideas, we were at a sense lost for words. I don’t really understand how an organization wouldn’t want to promote the good that they are doing for their community or even take pictures of how happy the kids are to be there. I believe that all of this would help lift that community and maybe bring them out of the rut they are suffering through. It would show other people outside of that community that Church Hill has students that are trying to advance and make a better life for themselves by going to this development center straight after 8 hours of regular schooling. Needless to say, our group was starting to loss hope and determination in trying to help this organization being that Rosemary acted as if we were a bother when we contacted her through emails. But being such strong individuals that we all are, all of my group members continued to pitch ideas especially around Halloween. We sent Rosemary an email asking her if we could do something for the kids for Halloween such as make pumpkin rice krispy treats or paint pumpkins with them. She completely looked pass the rice krispy treat idea and jumped on the pumpkin idea which was great, but then alerted us that we needed to get around 80 pumpkins. http://rampages.us/allenen/halloween-frustrations/

Who would have even expected anyone much less college students to buy 80 pumpkins?! I know we have probably ran this in the ground, but it was something that upset each and every one of us. Why couldn’t we work with one grade level or even bring one big pumpkin in and let each kid paint on it then set it outside of Peter Paul to show everyone’s collaborated art work? These are just things that confused me and made me think twice about the ideas that I had to pitch. At this point, we already had Rosemary expecting us to do something for Halloween so Keondra and I went to Peter Paul on Halloween day and volunteered some time. http://rampages.us/allenen/halloween-party-at-peter-paul/

We had no idea what we were going to do, but we felt obligated at that point. Rosemary quickly assigned us to the coloring pages table and told us to wait until the kid arrived. We waited for about 30 minutes then the students started rolling in to have pizza that Peter Paul bought for them. So we waited a little longer, then the kids were assigned groups and rotated from table to table. It was a fun experience to say the least, but didn’t have much to do with Halloween which was a little disappointing.

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The kids I came into contact with were extremely nice, but in the back of my head I remember Rosemary telling us not to get too attached with any of them, in which I found myself doing. I do not understand how anyone can work with any living being and not form some sort of attachment to them. That makes me think that Rosemary doesn’t communicate or interact much with the kids. All of the teachers who were there seemed to be attached to at least one other kid, so I kind of feel like Rosemary didn’t trust us from the start which is no way to conduct an organization that people can volunteer at. I never felt a decent connection with Rosemary like I had expected from the start which could have been why things did not pan out as we all had hoped. Towards the end of the semester as we were doing our makes, no one felt comfortable enough sending Rosemary any of our creations even though we had some interesting ones. Along with my food desert make that is a detailed description of how people in Church Hill can get to Farm Fresh if they do not have a vehicle. http://rampages.us/allenen/food-desert/

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I even made a video of a healthy and simple recipe idea that the kids could make at home with bananas as long as they weren’t allergic to peanut butter. http://youtu.be/3ohCZCfLKqI

All in all, I wasn’t too happy with the way everything panned out at Peter Paul. I would have hoped to be more interactive and actually make some sort of difference in that community or even in one child’s life. Even though my service learning didn’t go as planned, I am very fortunate to have worked with 5 amazing group members who were just about as determined as I am, if not more to make some sort of difference. They all offered so much to our group as a whole and contributed great ideas that I would have never thought of. It is crazy how close you become with people by working in groups and how much knowledge you obtain from each member. Walking away from this class, I can feel more confident working with people who are complete strangers one minute and close friends the next. I have a much better understanding of the real world work force and is prepared for whatever the future may bring!

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Another make for fun

When things aren’t what you expect, you have to improvise. And sometimes, like with that white chicken chili, you got to make something out of nothing. Here’s another one of those incidences. I wanted to make smoothies like I usually do at home but I was at my boyfriends house. He had some ingredients, but not everything o needed. We were missing bananas, spinach, and oats. And we ran out of ice!!! But we made it work!
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Final Reflection Post

As the semester is ending, it is 100% safe to say this class was not at all what I expected. This was easily the busiest semester I have experienced thus far with eighteen credits, and working close to forty hours per week. This was  constant struggle I had adapting to a service learning class. I was pessimistic at times because I didn’t eel the switch was fair. I would have much rather enrolled in this class during a time I would have been able to contribute more time and really more energy into the Ram Pantry. As we mentioned in class, the course write-up should certainly be updated.
Looking past that, this class did have a lot to offer learning wise. I probably never would have signed up for a serve class knowingly, so it may be a blessing in disguise the way this course unfolded.
Service learning gave us real life scenarios and obstacles to overcome, making the learning service more wholesome. Pleasing clients is something each and every one of us is going to have to do at our “fresh out of college entry level” positions in the near future. I, especially, will be dealing with clients as  PR major. I remember Mrs. Boaz pointing this out to me mid-semester as I complained about my tedious workload and literature class’s huge novels.
When the Ram Pantry group first got together I was VERY overwhelmed. Everyone in the group had strong personalities and leadership qualities that made me shut down.. but after a couple classes of sorting things out, we began our sampling every Wednesday. Our efforts of sampling were to not only inform more people of the Ram Pantry, but also show them that they can get healthy food there, and eat healthy on a budget, or to try something they never had before! Our group, however, was very large, and may have been more productive if it had been slightly fewer people.
Terrence, coordinator of the Ram Pantry, always seemed pleased! We did have some issues with communication, but he’s busy, and we’re busy, and we were still always getting something done even if it wasn’t all that we had wanted. I learned from this course that pleasing the client has to be number one, whether you want to do something else or not. I saw this in the Re-Establish Richmond group, and I saw this when the issue of painting the bins came up. I, personally, would have suggested consistent in the bins so that people would be able to identify them all over, but that is not what Terrence wanted so I needed to accept that. This is going to be an especially important skill as I enter the PR field.
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I feel successful in our work for the Ram Pantry because I feel like A LOT more people are talking about it. I enthused to all my friends, spoke about it in other classes, and I know other group members did the same. The social media has been attended to and established a following, and I will ALWAYS retweet the pantry.
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As the semester ended, we experienced a bit of a time cramp. The list of makes would be a great thing to introduce the class with in the beginning of the semester because it provided me with a list of work I could do to publish on my blog and brainstorm for my client. In our seamster, the end was just too near to complete them all, especially some of the more extravagant ones. In class makes were the most fun:the food art, and the memes. My favorite thing about the food art was that the class was divided up and it seemed like each group was approaching it differently. Ella was smashing the cupcakes all over her hands (abstract hehe) while Aster was elegant and professional. I think the way we used these arts for our clients evoked personalities. Taylor Thompson had once mentioned to me that she liked the voice of the twitter account because it sounded young — I think using Ella’s smashed cupcake hands meme matched up with that voice, but using steers VCU veggies as the header reminds everyone on the page that it is a serious worthwhile cause. Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 1.19.17 PM
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As I mentioned in my presentation, I was much more motivated in the beginning of the semester receiving positive feedback from everyone. When the other food pantry were shouting us out and sending us love I was so excited to be contributing and showing Terrence how worth while social media can be. I wish that we could have been in quicker contact with Terrence because instances when the man messaged me about the food drive, or the woman about the baby formula, the responses were usually much to last. People are immediate these days, and thats the point of social media. It needs to be outputted immediately and responses need to be rapid. I wish that our class could have used the man’s food drive suggestion instead of him taking it to Terrence because it was something we talked about all semester but never quite got to execute.
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Aside from all of the volunteering and client work, the class also gave me new outlooks on the food industry. I’ve always felt guilty eating certain fast foods, but now i just feel disgusting, I cannot forget the one day a girl came into class eating it!!!! I don’t remember who, but I was like HOW CAN YOU after all we know. McNuggets might be a dollar, but so is a tomato (at the right place) unless you go to the Ram Pantry, in which its FREE.
The technology of the class was a struggle at times as well. The blogs were fairly inoperable in the beginning of the semester, but i ultimately had to chose to just have mine be a chronological queue of the work I had done, because the heading organizations never quite worked right. My phone won’t put up my videos to my laptop, and my login and password won’t work on my phone for me to mobile blog. I think if I had been able to access my blog on my phone it would have received much more attention. The video make with the recipe couldn’t upload. I made a mexican chip dip one night, and the next morning I made french toast, but I used Jimmy John’s wheat bread and it was so delicious. I recorded both of these times and couldn’t get my phone to send, message, email, or upload via the wire at all. In upcoming semesters, it may be a good idea to switch blog platforms or work out some of the kinks we experienced this semester early on.
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My final thoughts on the course are ultimately positive. I gained experience working for a nonprofit which is something i’ve been considering with PR since declaring my major. I did  a lot of undocumented research throughout the semester on nonprofits social media, and public relation goals, which I will now be using to help a friend of mine’s startup non-profit. I am thankful for being forced into a great learning experience.

Trash Bins

Aster, Laura, and I met up on 25th of November to make a design and plan supplies needed for crafting donation bins for the Ram Pantry. We planned during our canceled class time and emailed Bonnie and  We Terrence the list of supplies. After we were beginning to get excited about the bins we began running into several problems.

1. We had a budget and didn’t know it.

2. It was only $25.

3. We are told we could use the ram pantry to paint at, but the day we planned on working on the bins they aid we couldn’t use the space.

We ended up not doing the bins this semester which was pretty disappointing. We put so much time and effort into getting things planned out and finally getting get people to volunteer. Although this was disappointing, hopefully the next semester of students working with the RamPantry will have better planning than we did.

Fast Food Scavenger Hunt

ChickfilA-Sauce

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Modified Food Starch:

http://gluten.lovetoknow.com/What_Is_Modified_Food_Starch

Modified food starches have made many improvements in the foods produced today, resulting in lower costs, more attractive products and better tastes. They may also be a hidden source of gluten for many. Educate yourself about the foods you eat and double check any source that contains modified food starch on its label to ensure the safety of your food.Natural Flavor:

http://www.fearlessfatloss.com/book-reviews/what-is-the-ingredient-natural-flavor/

“Natural flavor is a man-made additive, and it makes processed food and fast food taste outstanding.

It’s not the only additive that flavors our (processed and fast) food, but it sure does a great job.”

Xanthum Gum:

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-xanthan-gum.htm#didyouknowout

Xanthum gum is a polysaccharide that’s commonly used as a food additive. The name is derived from the strain of bacteria used during the fermentation process that is used to make it, Xanthomonas campestris. This is the same bacteria responsible for causing black rot to form on broccoli, cauliflower and other leafy vegetables. The bacteria form a slimy substance which acts as a natural stabilizer or thickener. It was developed when the United States Department of Agriculture ran a number of experiments involving bacteria and various sugars to develop a new thickening agent similar to corn starch or guar gum.

Calcium Disodium EDTA:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/220542-dangers-of-calcium-disodium-edta/

calcium disodium EDTA, appears in foods and cosmetic products to prevent air from spoiling them by introducing unwanted oxygen into the products’ molecular structures.