Monday, August 20, 2007

Think Before You Drink: Eine Bitte für Gebet

Please pray for Tim, the brother of a college friend of mine. He was in a serious accident in Germany, and you can read his story here, as well as journal updates on his condition from his family.

I hope it's okay that I quote a journal entry, because the Bettger family have been so faithful throughout this ordeal, and Tim especially has been amazing...

In talking about Tim's upcoming surgery, and recent decision to go through with it, his mother had this to say:
"Clearly this event will change us and change our family. But I like Tim's assessment, 'It may delay some of my plans, but it will not derail them.' As we talked about losing part of a limb and fighting through a series of surgeries, Tim said, 'I much prefer the thought of learning to use a prosthesis to the thought of relearning the alphabet.' What is clear to us is that God stepped into this situation and protected Tim from much more serious injury."

Isn't that amazing? I have no idea how I would feel if I were in a similar situation. I'm sure I would be thankful to be alive, but I can't say how I would react to having my life forever changed by a drunk driver.

What strikes me most is how there is no blame or hatred directed to the drunk driver. The Bettger family have been incredibly strong in their faith, and have constantly given Glory to God through their difficult time.

Please keep them in your prayers. Pray especially for Tim's recovery and that their faith remain strong as they face adversity.

Romans 8:26-28 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Five Love Languages

How you give and receive love, and how it affects your relationships (and not to mention, your reactions to certain situations)

Driving alone for long distances gives one a chance to contemplate life. Well, driving home from a weekend with friends, I began to ponder how I best give and receive love. I once attended a Bible Study on Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages. We discussed the variations of giving and receiving long, and I was able to determine which language I ‘speak’ when showing love, and which one is most effective to me when receiving love.

I was looking back to certain situations in my life and realized that, because the language X (we’ll call it “X” for the purposes of this post) is most effective for me when receiving love, I’m very careful about whom I use X with and how they use it with me. Which sounds extremely vague, I know, but it’s a bit too personal to go into details without disclosing which language I’m talking about.

Basically, my point is that X means more to me than it may for others, and that’s why I’m careful about using it. And that may make for some awkward experiences, one of which happened recently. Which got me pondering. Which got me posting.

So my ‘Tip to You,’ dear reader, is to think about which language you use for giving love, and which you use for receiving love (and the same for your partner). It’s an interesting study that can open up a world of better communication in relationships. And consider it for relationships beyond romantic love (i.e. friends and family). If anything, a good discussion on the subject will help you understand what you want, and hopefully save you from miscommunication.

I respect Gary Chapman’s research and thoughts on this subject. It’s an interesting way to view our relationships with one another.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Corporate Volunteerism P.2

What Skills-Based Volunteering Means for the Food Pantry

According to, the benefits of an employee volunteer program for the company are an “increase in retention, growth of brand awareness, strength to customer loyalty, and improvement in productivity.” The benefits to the community are that the employee volunteer program “provides skilled and talented volunteers, it creates a quantifiable social impact, helps bring the community needs into focus, and offers direct cost savings in recruiting and labor costs.”

This list, particularly the “benefits to the community,” is based on the assumption that the community organization can easily utilize professional workers in a valuable way. This isn’t always the case.

In fact, as more and more volunteers request opportunities that allow them to build job skills, gain work experience, and use their professional knowledge, nonprofit organizations are having a hard time getting people to do the grunt work. Monotonously make sandwiches at a homeless shelter for a never-ending line of hungry clients? No way! Not when I can write, edit, design, and publish an organizational newsletter for an up-and-coming charity.

Of course, I must add that many volunteers are more than willing to help wherever is needed, and I have yet to meet a volunteer who doesn’t have his or her heart in the right place, but I’ve been reading a lot about how volunteer motivations, especially for the educated set, are becoming more about, “what you can do for me,” rather than, “what I can do for my country.”

I’m not saying that volunteering can’t be a 50/50 beneficial relationship. All I’m saying is that certain organizations, namely, those with grunt work-based opportunities, may see a shortage of applicants to fulfill the monotonous, low-skilled jobs.

But that’s just one girl’s opinion.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Developments in the Big Debate

Facebook v. MySpace
Is it a socio-economic thing?

In writing this entry, I had meant to get into the various socio-economic differences between my Facebook friends and MySpace friends, which effectively divide them along class lines. However, I didn't want to mistakenly alienate anyone by drawing attention to those differences.

Today, I opened up my MSN homepage and saw this article which describes the class distinctions teens are seeing among their friends on each social networking site, and how many teens are switching to Facebook in the hopes of getting into the "college set" before college. The articles states that, "Affluent kids from educated, well-to-do families have been fleeing MySpace for Facebook since it opened registration to the general public in September, while working-class kids still flock to MySpace."

I am one of those "kids" (not so much "teen" as "in my twenties") who flew the coop of Myspace to the affluently crowded nest of Facebook, and was immediately innundated with long-lost university friends and old high school acquaintances who are now college graduates. However, I must disagree with the author in that, I didn't flee to Facebook because, "Constant local news stories on predators targeting kids on MySpace further alienated the good kids." Rather, I just noticed that more of my friends were on Facebook, and I wanted to reconnect.

Take what you will from this article, and think what you will about the Big Debate of Facebook V. MySpace. All I can share with you is my experience on both networks, and my reasons for switching. This is, after all, just one girl's opinion.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Corporate Volunteerism P.1

Is it just a reason to get out of the office? Or do corporate volunteers really want to make a difference in the community?

The other week we organized a group volunteer project in our school. We set up a project where employees could take a half-day, come to the school, and spend time with our younger students.

The preparation for this day was going well. We had a schedule, we had supplies, and we even worked through some issues to accommodate a smaller-than-planned corporate volunteer group. However, a communications challenge arose when we tried to confirm the group’s participation. This company always had one main contact for it’s volunteer projects. She, however, was not the contact in this particular instance. Perhaps we should’ve seen the red flag.

The day of the project began bright and early with the preparations for the group’s arrival. Everything was set, and the kids were ready to go, and then we waited. And waited. Fifteen minutes after the allotted start time, two volunteers from the group arrived and assured us that, though the rest were in a meeting, they would be along shortly. Cut to thirty minutes later whereupon I welcomed two more volunteers. Then thirty minutes later when two more came. The arrivals continued in thirty-minute increments until all ten volunteers finally made it, the last two arriving after the project was finished.

Despite the disruption from the regimented – and highly irregular – arrival procession, our students managed to enjoy the time they had with the volunteers. After the project they (the students) went merrily on their way to lunch while the volunteers proceeded to the lobby of our organization.

They sat chatting for the next twenty minutes until I could coerce them into another activity at the organization. I imagine they simply tired of me asking if they wanted to do anything more productive with their remaining time, and were placating me by following along. The entire time I felt that I was infringing on company sponsored Social Time. Worse, I was the one left feeling guilty because the students were promised a morning of reading, and instead were given disruption and disappointment.

This made me wonder what expectations the volunteer group had for the day. Did they truly sign up for the project in order to share their love of reading with young students? Did they want to spend time interacting with kids in the classroom? Or was this simply a means to get off company property for the morning?

The corporate group’s actions left me in a bit of a conundrum, to say the least. We’ve had volunteers from this company before, and they are always polite, on time, and excited to participate in the activity. So what went wrong?

Before I can answer that question, I will need to understand the motivation behind the group signing up for the project in the first place. I must also review our communications, and look for ways to improve the information-sharing process before our next event.

Instinct tells me it was just a one-time flub. I believe there was a breakdown in the communications regarding the expectations for the project. There are many resources that discuss Corporate Volunteerism and many of them specifically list the benefits for companies and employees through such a program. However, very few talk about the benefits to the community organization, and even fewer are written from the perspective of the nonprofit.

I feel that some volunteers view their service as a blessing that the recipient should be thankful for, regardless of any extra work it causes on the part of the nonprofit. I feel that the needs of the volunteer are sometimes put before the needs of the program, which is a contradiction to the idea of volunteerism.

But that's just one girl's opinion.