The Chronicles of a Summit Service Project

The Chronicles of a Summit Service Project

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring Music Project

This Spring has been hectic but the Harmony House girls wanted to slow things down and play some good music. Bridget, Karen, and I are all musically and theatrically inclined so we decided to share our interests with the kids of Harmony House.

The last few weeks we composed a workshop schedule to spend three consecutive Sundays with the kids learning more about music, theatre, and dance. Our first workshop was today and the three of us brought our ukuleles and sheet music to share. We spend time with the kids and played some of their favorites like "Let it Go" from Frozen and the Spongebob theme song. We taught some of the older kids how to play a few simple chords and asked about their interest in music and musical instruments. Several of the kids were already in their school's band or choir. While our crowd was fairly young, they still seemed to enjoy the workshop. It was a bit difficult to hold their attention so we are regrouping to make the next two workshops a bit more structured and fast-paced. Overall we had a great time and look forward to planning our acting workshop for next Sunday.

Here is a photo of me helping one girl with a new chord on my ukulele. (For the sake of privacy, we cannot show any photographs of the children)

On Sunday March 30th we started out big project of the year as a group! We went to Harmony House and did our first workshop. We played our ukuleles and sang with the kids. We played songs that they mostly knew and they were able to sing along with us. The children lit up and were very excited to sing some of the songs. Their favorite song was Let It Go from Frozen. They had us play it several times so they could sing along. We all got a chance to do a solo song as well and they sat fairly quietly and listened. Kelsey and I let them play our ukes; we taught them a few chords and showed them how to hold it. They were very thrilled to get to play and there were even a few who had some natural talent! We had planned the workshop for 2 hours but we slowly lost our audience. It's not entirely easy to keep the attention of children on a warm weekend day. However we were very pleased with the number of kids we did have and the amount of interest they showed. For next weeks acting workshop we hope to have a few more kids and maybe to keep there attention for a little bit long!

I think that the music workshop went well. The kids seemed to really like it. They loved singing the song from "Frozen", "Let It Go". I brought the song thinking that they would kind of like it, but they ended up asking us to sing it with them three or four times! The kids really loved when we let them play our ukuleles. Their faces lit up from the moment they played their first chord. I am music education, and it made me really excited that I will get to do stuff like this every day for the rest of my life.​

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mid-Year Evaluation

We're at the end of the semester, and it's time for us to look back on everything.  And, here are some pictures!
So far, various members of our group have helped scrub every inch of the shelter, serve dinner, and supervise the children living there.  This semester we mainly observed the people living at Harmony House by doing general labor, so that next semester we can focus our efforts where there are needed most.
            In addition to helping out both the staff and those helped by Harmony House, we wished to use this experience as a way to explore our own talents.  We came into this semester wishing to put on a performance for the children, but we realized that the needs of the shelter outweighed our own personal wishes.  However, we have, as we desired at the beginning of the semester, become skilled at planning and organizing events, such as our personal care item fundraiser.  It took not only the efforts of Bridget, who spear-headed that particular fundraiser, but the planning of all of us to find time to breathe life to our campaign.
Through the semester, we were able to help out around the house for about 5 hours, help with raising money, and collect about $1500 worth of personal care items for the residents. In the house, we helped clean, serve dinner, and take care of the children. We were able to fulfill our goal of doing a fundraiser/charity drive for the house.
One of the big surprises in our project was how well the charity went. We did the charity drive at a CVS the weekend before Thanksgiving, hoping that the upcoming holiday would put people in a charitable mood. We were expecting to maybe get about $200-$300 worth of products. There happened to be a sale on a lot of personal care items at the store that weekend, which made it easier for people to donate more products. We also happened to meet a few people who were “extreme couponers” who donated many bags of personal care items. In the end, we ended up collecting almost $1500 worth of items. We hope to do another charity drive next semester after this semester’s success.

One of the big challenges in our project was time management. We knew that at the beginning of the year that it might be difficult to be getting in the 15 hours per semester with our busy schedules. It sounds easy enough when you make a plan of doing an hour or two per week for 3 months. Then, you have auditions, jobs, homework and many other things to put into the equation. We were luckily able to fit in all of the hours, but it took a lot more planning than expected. We have now realized that one of our focuses for next semester need to be making and keeping a time management plan.

November Update

This month we've worked on fundraising for the house.  To do that, we stood outside a local CVS and asked people entering the store for personal care items.  We had a lot of success with that, raising over $1500 worth of items over the course of two days.  It was interesting to plan and implement such a project, and the outpouring of love from the community was astonishing.  Stay tuned for our final update to see some pictures!

October Update

As we've all been very busy with classes, we haven't had as much time as we'd like to volunteer.  However, we've been planning a big fundraiser for next month!
As Kelsey puts it," October has been a busy month!  I've been overloaded with classes and rehearsals.  However, we did get a chance to brainstorm some ideas and meet with our faculty sponsor.  We decided to contact local grocery stores and try to do a fundraiser to obtain personal care items for Harmony House.  We also discussed involving several groups on campus including DUkes, Improv Troupe, and Broadway Cabaret in performing with and for the children.  We are still considering the details of such ideas but we are excited to start this project.  We want to show the kids the different kinds of performances out there and allow them to perform a bit themselves."id

Monday, September 30, 2013

First Impressions

On September 4, four people set out on a mission: to aid a local not-for-profit dedicated to providing a safe place for women and children.  We have plans in the future to do fundraisers and item drives, but in the mean time, we needed to see what we were working with.  At the shelter itself, they needed help mainly cleaning, and serving meals.  That day, we wouldn't be there long enough to serve dinner, so we scrubbed away.  We split up, Kelsey and Karen went to clean the children's room, and Bridget and I scrubbed walls in the living areas. 
In Karen's words:
"The first day we worked at Harmony House, Kelsey and I cleaned in a children's play room. It looked like it really needed it. We sanitized the toys and scrubbed the walls. While we were cleaning some kids came in to watch tv. They started talking to us and asked if we would have any time to spend with them. They expressed an interest in arts, and performing. We are trying to figure out a way to incorporate this into our projects and find useful ways to spend time with these kids while utilizing our skills."
Kelsey taking out the trash

From Kelsey:
"We knew we wanted to work with Harmony House when we started this project but decided to start with some general work and cleaning in order to get a feel for the organization. After speaking with the kids I realized that this project could be well spent with them. I talked to them about performance and even showed them a few things I was learning in ballet. They appeared very interested and since then I've talked to several theatre/education majors for advice on how to launch an artistic project with the children. I truly think this could be a great experience for both our group and the children at Harmony House."
Bridget and I scrubbed walls in the main hallway, sanitized railings, and mopped the dining area.  Cleaning is never fun, but we could see how this was a necessary chore.  The women live there, so a dingy hallway never really brightened anyone's day.  We didn't get to socialize as much as Kelsey and Karen did, but we did get to chat and joke as we swept up the remnants of lunch.
Our attempt at fixing a broken mop

Bridget's ideas on future endeavors with Harmony House:
"I think we should do a fundraiser of some sort for the house.  These women and children have barely anything.  When asked what they would like donated to the house, they simply asked for personal hygiene products (i.e. shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc)."
Our first encounter with Harmony House gave us a better idea of how to serve that community.  Now we know what we are dealing with, and how we can help.