Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Final Statement of Purpose

Kelly McRell

Histories of Knowledge


Statement of Purpose: Non-profit Development and Management

I am an Interdisciplinary Studies Major, individually designing my course of study. My concentration is Non-profit Development and Management, the learning of skills and abilities one must have in order to create and maintain an organization. I plan to make a non-profit that gives positive influences to children and adults with disabilities and helps parents learn the skills needed raise a child with disabilities. The question I am working towards is “How can I develop more opportunities for the disabled population to succeed and grow while at the same time educating the surrounding population about the different disabilities?” The organization I would like to create is called Yahweh’s World- Come as you are, be who you be (the word Yahweh in Greek means “I be who I be”). This phrase applies to this population perfectly, what one child with Down syndrome can’t do another can.

There are four parts to the program. Part one is a life skills program set up for the adults in the area. This will give them a chance to work on skills such as setting the table, counting change and using cleaning supplies. There are a good percentage of people who could live in a group home or even in an apartment with a small group of friends, if they had extra training and practice. This part of the program will hopefully give adults with disabilities more opportunities for jobs and positive feedback. This will also be a way for them to get out and meet people through social gatherings and service projects. Part two is a summer camp for the younger population. Counselors will have a child with disabilities and a child without disabilities. The counselor will be responsible for facilitating growth between campers and teaching love and acceptance. Part three is a mentorship program set up in a similar way to the camp where the Big Sibling will have two siblings (one with a disability and one without). This will occur throughout the year, and have service and social requirements each month. I believe the best way to be accepted into a community is to give back to it. Part four is a support network for the parents of the children and youth participating in the organization. This will be a chance for them to get out and have fun, as well as, learn skills from other parents with children with disabilities. They will be able to learn from and encourage each other.

I chose career path after being taught and inspired by my friends Ronda, Cameron and Will. They have a range of disabilities from Down syndrome to Microcephaly to Developmental Delays. I have been hanging out with them for the last 7 years and each day they amaze me. Before I met them, I had no knowledge of disabilities and I was very ignorant. I was one of the people that pitied them and felt bad that they were born incapable. I have learned so much from them and had my expectations thrown out. This year Will is graduating from High School, and Ronda and Cameron are going to be seniors. After they graduate there is a limited amount of career paths and options for them. Ronda and Will have brothers and sisters that will take care of them after their parents pass away but Cameron is an only child, so after her parents pass away, if she is deemed unable to live with friends, she will be sent to a group home. I see a need to help those who need it. With some extra training and teaching less people will be forced to live in an assisted residency.

Something that drives my passion is the fact that we label this population of people. Each child, whether born with or without disabilities is special and capable, things may take longer but one thing that helps is having expectations and love for what they are capable of. I think we do a poor job of loving people for who they are, without comparisons to others. This is something that happens in all populations of people, Ronda is a girl who happened to be born with Down syndrome, she is not her disability. We get so hung up on titles whether it is disabled, freak, jock or prep and forget that we are all people who crave relationships. I want to teach people that we are more alike than we think.

Everyone deserves an opportunity to develop and grow while being loved in their struggles. I have been planning out this program since I was a junior in high school. I know it is going to be hard and there is a lot of work that will go into it, but taking a variety of classes and developing a spectrum of skills through the IDS department is going to help. My concentration is giving me the opportunity to develop the knowledge to succeed and the extracurricular activities I am in, which I will explain in detail, give me the skills needed to accomplish my plan.

To pursue an individually designed degree in Non-profit Development and Management I have taken classes from a variety of disciplines. As previously mentioned, after college I plan to create an organization that works with the disabled population. In order to do this, I decided to major in Interdisciplinary Studies because it gives me the chance to learn how to begin an organization, create a strong staff, work with the disabled population and maintain a balance in the program. Through this program I have taken classes such as Communication in Organizations and Public Speaking in the Communication Department which have helped develop my ability to speak in front of large groups, as well as, understand how people interact within a group. My sophomore year I took Careers in Not for Profit in order to understand the tasks and basis of a non-profit organization. This was a service-learning class that enabled me to assist in fundraising and program planning for a local non-profit, Sugar Grove Developmental Day School. I learned from the Executive Board what the needs of a non-profit are and helped raise a few hundred dollars in an ink-cartridge drive. I got a lot of good experience and got to interview all the different positions of the board including an essential member, the grant writer. After this class, I began the planning of the board and staff for Yahweh’s World and learned that it would be useful to have a wide variety of community members and people with more specialized degrees to help out along the way. This class is what really got me into the IDS department, I would have the opportunity to begin an organization, as well as, decipher the necessary tools and people to make it thrive.

Also, I am in the process of getting a minor in sociology, taking classes like Social Problems in America. Through this department I have gained an understanding of the larger problems in our society and also how to make a step towards progress. I have also been taking Special Education classes since that is the target population for the organization to gain credibility and a better understanding of the wide spectrum of disabilities. In the future, I am taking a Business writing course that will give me a chance to write grants and memos, and some leadership classes that will help build the skills needed to lead a team of workers. A great aspect of this degree is the ability to pull from several majors and make connections between each. In several of my classes, in different disciplines, ideas and concepts have been repeated and expanded. Learning about Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs in a psychology class and then going to a special education class and hearing about it helps me understand it better. Hearing a concept repeatedly makes sure that I know about it but hearing about it in different classes allows me to see the concept from a different angle, thus gaining more knowledge.

Along with these classes, I am doing a lot of extracurricular things to help in my integration of all my studies. I am a Resident Assistant in the dorms, so I am in charge of 36 residents. This position allows me to work on my managing and leadership skills. Each semester I have to do a certain amount of programs and also keep the hall clean and positive. This takes a lot of patience and time management, two skills that will help in the future. Also, I work in the ACT office as a co-chair for the impact team. This is a volunteer group of students that help raise awareness about social issues in our community, Boone. We plan the big events on campus such as MLK Challenge, a day of service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., and Dance Marathon, which is an event where students dance for 24 consecutive hours in order to raise money for two local non-profits. In working with the ACT office I am learning how to encourage and motivate volunteers, exploring new fundraising ideas that I can do in the future, and building a network for the future. On top of it all I try to volunteer as much as possible at a variety of organization. I have worked with the Hospitality House that gives warm meals and shelter to people living in homelessness, and with the Humane Society that works to get homes for abandoned and abused animal. I have also worked on trails and with environmental groups like Appalachian Voices and many others. I have helped with groups that were just getting started to groups that are well known and established. This is very helpful because it is helping me make a checklist of what needs to be done in each stage, as well as, formulate a list of classes needed. All of my extracurricular activities are giving me the hands on experience I will need in the future.

I am working towards an internship with a local non-profit. I try to apply everything I learn in class to what I do outside of the classroom. The outside activities are helping to fuse the many disciplinary subjects together. In working with Sugar Grove I put on a Thanksgiving feast, but because the school had a lack in funds I had to work on getting donations. This didn’t just require my programming skills but also my ability to write to businesses for donations. Everything is interconnected sometimes it takes an unexpected circumstance to see how they fit together.

In this paper, I have summarized several of the important classes I have taken along with the extracurricular activities I am participating in that I think will create the perfect blend of experience and knowledge in order to create a sustainable organization.

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