Monday, November 4, 2013

Medical Surplus Recovery Finds Its Place at UIS

Here at the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, we have added various new opportunities for a growing campus population to get involved. One of these opportunities is the recurring Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach service activity.

On Tuesday nights, UIS students gather at the front entrance of Lincoln Residence Hall. Each week, a different group meets up to volunteer for “a medical surplus recovery organization” that is focused “on meeting the healthcare needs of individuals in developing nations”. This wonderful organization also offers education and awareness opportunities, and cross-cultural mission experiences.

You might be asking why would I get involved? While I would have a biased answer, (I’m coordinating the project, after all.) data shows that UIS students are breaking down the door to get involved with this activity! The Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center is only able to offer twelve sports each week and has overfilled available seats almost every time! Students are adamant to get involved in a service project that not only develops fellowship, but also creates an environment of humor and pleasure.

Student Shannon Stevens, first-year Biology major thinks, “It was really fun because I was with a great group of people who wanted to give back to their communities. When I was first approached about the project, I didn’t think that I would enjoy repackaging salvaged medical supplies; I knew we were helping those in need”.

When UIS students arrive at HSMO, they will work in different capacities each week. The needs of the program vary depending on donations from system hospitals. Typically, there are three concrete stations.

(1)    The donated pallet is opened and supplies are sorted into bins based on expiration dates.
(2)    Once sorted by expiration dates, these items are sorted by medical categories- sutures, skin prep, bandages).
(3)    Finally, these categorized materials are assembled with like items. For example, all the same-size measuring containers will be put together and boxed.

Once these items are boxed, weighed, labeled, and entered into the warehouse system, distant communities are able to order surplus recovery medical supplies through an online inventory!

If you are interested in registering for one of the remaining sessions (every Tuesday, 5-8pm through December 10th), connect with us at Hurry, because seats are filling fast!

The Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach project is just another example of how UIS students are ‘Leadership Lived’.

Michael Lostpeich
Student Project Coordinator
UIS Volunteer Center

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Volunteer Center Wants YOU to Register to Vote

Yesterday was voter registration day and the volunteer center  teamed up with the College Republicans and College Democrats of UIS to not only register students to vote, but also bring in representatives of candidates of the 13th Congressional District.

Say hi guys! Jeff (R) on the right, Marc (D) helped coordinate the event.

We registered UIS students to vote, or change their address from 1:00-6:00, with dinner and speakers from 4:30-6:00. The speakers even mingled with the crowd after to answer any questions about voting platforms they might have had. 

If you missed yesterday's event and still would like to register, or are interested in being a part of other voter registration and civic engagement events than keep your eyes open for more to come! Also, feel free to stop by or shoot us an email with civic engagement projects you would like to get started. 

UIS Vista

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Alpha Phi Omega at UIS

So I am sure you've seen a lot of things going on lately from Alpha Phi Omega, and maybe you wondered what they were and what they do. Well today you are going to get the inside track on all things Alpha Phi Omega, and what they've been up to so far this semester.

Involvement Expo!

I'm sure a lot of you met them already, what with the events going on and also from their presence at the Involvement Expo (you remember them, they were the ones giving out the rootbeer floats), but here's the details: Alpha Phi Omega is a co-ed national service fraternity and they do a lot of really cool stuff. They have fellowship and bonding events, service projects, and are just a great group of people to get involved with.  

What have they been up to on campus lately? Well, frankly they have done quite a bit.

Game Nights


(and if you don't think this deserves two pictures you are dead wrong).

Most importantly, though, they just welcomed eleven new pledges into their fraternity (in case you didn't know pledges are members who have not been fully initiated. They have a pledge ceremony where interested individuals show up and are ceremoniously brought into the fold, and then when they have completed some service and have learned all about the organization and want to dedicate themselves to being a part of it they become full members). 

And we would like to congratulate them on becoming a part of this amazing organization.

Congrats New Alpha Phi Omegas!!!

If you are interested in joining keep your eyes open for more events to come this semester, as well as for the info sessions and pledging ceremony next semester when they will, again, be taking new members.

UIS Vista

Monday, September 23, 2013

The volunteers have been busy bees the past few weeks

So posts have been sparse lately (sorry about that), but that doesn't mean that great things haven't been happening in the volunteer center.

So what EXACTLY has been happening? Good question. For one, the different service organizations on campus have been gearing up and are doing some fantastic work of their own. There have been Habitat for Humanity Build Days (and more of those are coming up!), Pizza Socials with the Red Cross Club, and Alpha Phi Omega (a national service fraternity) has been gathering together people for a combination of fun and service opportunities. But you'll hear more on that later...

Alpha Phi Omega and other volunteers do Adopt-A-Street.

What other cool things are happening you may ask? Well, our weekly service projects are starting up! We have three that will be happening. 
  • On Tuesday nights from 5:00pm-8:00pm you can hop on the bus at LRH and join the Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach group and sort hospital supplies to be sent to third world countries. Be sure to sign up for that on our volunteer website, though, there are only twelve available slots per week. 
  • It's also not too late to sign up to help with Lee Elementary Homework Club (contact if you're interested and he'll hook you up). For this one you would be taken out to Lee Elementary and work with elementary students to help them with their homework or other projects, as well as to help mentor them. This event happens on Thursday afternoons from 3:00pm-5:00pm.
  • We also have Big Brothers Big Sisters happening, but it's unfortunately too late to sign up for that now. 
Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach

We also have done a lot of other cool things too. Our L4L members wend to the food bank and had a sort off, returning members vs. the freshmen. We were the very first group to go out there, and it was so much fun! But beyond that, something that one of our L4L members talked about after, was how much was accomplished. Matt (an L4L freshmen) talked about how it was great to know exactly how much they did. There is only one guy who does all of the sorting of canned goods for the foodbank along with everything else he has to do, so it felt good to know how much more they were able to help them get done. 

Shameless Plug of How YOU Can Get Involved...
    • Come out to Voter Registration Day feat. Congressional Candidates and Campaign Managers from the upcoming 13th Congressional District Elections. 
      • Get registered to vote and discuss the issues (bonus, there will be food).
  • Sept. 26th
    • Foot in the Door Fair!
  • Sept. 28th
    • Senator McCann's Recycling Event
      • Come volunteer and help organizations collect items to recycle, everything from used batteries to clothing.
      • Or, come and recycle some of your own things!
      • (click the link to register)
  • Oct. 3rd
    • Making the Grade
  • Oct. 4th
    • uHelp iHelp Service Project
  • Oct. 5th
    • Habitat for Humanity Build Day
  • Oct. 18th
  • Oct. 19th
    • Habitat for Humanity Build Day
  • Oct. 31
    • Trick or Treat for Canned Goods and after party at Quaker Steak!
And don't forget that you can also sign up for our weekly events!

Interested in any (or all) of these and want more information?
Contact the Volunteer Center at or stop by SLB 60!

Alpha Phi Omega Game Night!

UIS Vista

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hospital Sister's Mission Outreach

So today's post is a little less snark and a bit more jaw dropping awe. But that's ok, I think, because the experience I had at Hospital Sister's Mission Outreach warrants that kind of awe. If you have the chance to go and be a part of that, then you should (there will be info at the end of the post detailing how you can get involved with them) but enough about that.

So during Service-A-Thon I went to Hospital Sister's Mission Outreach, and it was a very surprising. I knew kind of what I was getting into from discussing the organization with Doc. I knew it was a giant warehouse that collects hospital supplies that hospitals in America won't use anymore, or don't need, that have never been used or in the case of larger equipment, wheelchairs, etc. that has been gently used and still is in good condition, and they collect it instead of just letting hospitals throw all of that out. Then they sort it all in some fantastic and magical way and store it until a hospital or clinic in a third world country pops onto their website and orders a big cargo container filled with all of the supplies they need.

Like one of these. Only packed to the brim with all the supplies they need.

Then all the clinic or hospital has to pay for is the shipping, and presto! They are stocked with a bunch of perfectly good supplies that would otherwise be rotting in some dumpster, wasted. 

Now, don't get me wrong, that is what Hospital Sister's Mission Outreach is, and is all about. But you don't really understand the organization or the work they do until you step into that warehouse and you see it. You see all of the boxes, all of the things that would have just gone to waste otherwise when there is nothing wrong with them. Millions and millions of boxes of gauze and bandages that haven't been used or anything and will last forever thrown out for no reason. The same for things like latex gloves, and all the little things we take for granted that other countries have in such short supply.

And then, they tell you the stories.

Stories about hospitals they know of that have only one pair of latex gloves that they use over and over because it's all they have. Reverently washing and drying them after each use because, after all, its better than nothing. And of people from those hospitals who have come to the warehouse before, and broken down at the sheer quantity of the things they need just sitting on shelves, and the knowledge that if someone hadn't thought to start collecting it, it all would have just been thrown away.

So now, what do you do when you get there (besides being dumbstruck, of course)? Well you first get the tour (so you too can see exactly what it is you are contributing to), and then you get down to work. You have two options, based on exactly how detail oriented you are. You either can sort items more generally (all bandages and bandage-esque things in one giant tub, medical equipment in another, etc.) or you can be more specific (this particular kind of gauze in one tub, this bandage type in another, etc.), it just depends on your personality and what you are comfortable with. 

The group on the left is doing more general sorting, the team on the right is doing detailed sorting.

At first it can be a little overwhelming, with so many tubs and specifications on where things go, and as you are NOT required to have any sort of medical knowledge it can be a little more difficult as you don't always know what you are looking at, at least not at first. But before you know it you've got the hang of it and can get it a rhythm. You also get to take a break and step away from it all at about the half way point, and join your fellow volunteers in the break room for snacks and to chat for a bit. 

All in all I can't even begin to tell you how fantastic this service opportunity is, and if you are interested in getting involved here is how you can do that:

Hospital Sister's Mission Outreach
Weekly, Starting Sept. 17th
Transportation will be provided,
Busing will leave from LRH
To sign up click the link:

For more information contact:
Michael Lotspeich

- Erika

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Service-A-Thon 2013 Part 1: Cooking for 300, Red Cross Care Packages, and St. John's Breadline

Friday was Service-A-Thon. And for those of you who don't know it's an opportunity for students to get involved in service all day, with different projects happening all the time both on and off of campus.  They created care packages for victims of fire and natural disasters with the Red Cross, served food at St. John's Bread Line that they had made the night before, worked at the Habitat for Humanity Restore, and at Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach.

But Service-A-Thon really began on Thursday night when the L4L students all got together to make all of the food for St. John's Breadline.

Yum! Pasta salad and brownies!

For me at least the food prep for St. John's breadline was fantastic because I got to hang out a little bit with some of the L4L-ers and get to know them better over loud music and liking brownie bowls clean, as well as the ever present debate of whether there was enough seasoning in the pasta salad. It was just a great opportunity to work as a team and get things accomplished, and even better knowing that all the food we made was going to a great cause.

The Bluebell Team and their food. Yeah, we made a lot.
There were three teams making the amount we did,
plus a sandwich team. We made enough for 300!

The next day was the big day, we loaded up the van and Doc with food to be shipped over to St. John's Bread Line, where students would be joining it later, and I booked it over to the Red Cross Event where we had two shifts of students (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) who came in and made 400 care packages a shift, that will be sent out all over central Illinois. 

Just look at that teamwork!

Each care package got a washcloth, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a stuffed mickey mouse, deodorant, all the various little things you would need or could give comfort if you suddenly found yourself with nothing. The students also participated in a mock shelter so they could see what it would be like if they found themselves in that kind of a situation. 

Then there was St. John's Breadline, where our students rejoined the food they made the night before and actually got to serve it. They handed out the food they had made, cups of ice (because it was so hot Friday), and talked with the people who came in. 

*insert gratuitous picture of Doc in a hairnet*

 I wasn't at this event, I was at Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, but when Doc told me about it it sounded really interesting. He talked a lot about how people there, while there were some on a very different life path from him, were very much like him. How circumstances outside of their control had gotten in their way and put them in the position they found themselves in, and how if things had worked out for him just a little differently than they did for him he could easily see himself in the same place they were. And I don't know about you, but that really puts things in perspective. 

Ashley talking to a woman who came into the Breadline.

Our Habitat for Humanity Restore event was led by the president of the Habitat for Humanity club on campus, and they went down to the Restore in downtown Springfield to help out. Again, I wasn't there because it was happening at the same time as the Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach event was, but I did hear some interesting stories about it from one of the L4L members, Sophia. She's going to get a mini blog post all to herself later on this week. But it sounds like they had a pretty interesting experience as well. 

The final event was one I went to, the Hospital Sister's Mission Outreach, and yeah, this section might be a little long, but that's just because I know it best. That one is also going to be getting a mini blog post of it's own later on this week. So keep your eyes open for those! 

Until then, if you are interested in more information on what happened during Service-A-Thon you can click the link to be directed to the (more official) Service-A-Thon blog post, which even includes a video with Doc and some of our volunteers talking about their experiences. I highly recommend it! And if you are interested in knowing more about volunteering with any of the organizations I've just talked about, the first time they are mentioned they have a link in their name which will direct you to that organization's webpage for more info! 

UIS Vista

Monday, August 26, 2013

Let Me Win, But if I Cannot Win, Let Me be Brave in the Attempt: Special Olympics Bowling 2013

Saturday we bowled.

Ok, so we didn't bowl, we didn't wear goofy rented shoes or score gutterballs. We did something much, much better. Early on Saturday we, and by we I mean the L4L members and some other enthusiastic volunteers from UIS, loaded up a bus and headed out into Springfield to volunteer for Special Olympics Bowling, and it was fantastic. Not only was the experience itself great, but it also reminded us of something right off the bat.

It's not always about winning.

Ok, so to some people it is, but really it isn't. The slogan of the Special Olympics is "let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." And it is a fantastic reminder, for everyone. Yes, try to win, do your absolute best, but in the end it is the attempt that matters and the memories and all the other things you get in the process.

Kristin giving out the gold metal.

And if that is the case, then I think our volunteers got just as much out of the event as the participants, event those who won the gold. For them it was an opportunity to catch a glimpse at the little things they take for granted and meet some amazing people they might not otherwise see or if they did that they might not take the time to really meet. 

"For me the most touching experience of the whole day was when one of the participants came up to me and hugged me. She told me that she really liked me and hoped that I would come back and help her team next year. In my mind, that really showed me that I made a small impact in the world through my service, and that really touched my heart." 
-Martina '17

"In between frames I was able to talk to my team of bowlers and learned Tony liked to watch different shows on Netflix, Deb loves to bowl, and Janice likes the Cubs. Out of all the bowlers I think Janice and I had a connection. And after everyone was done bowling the team was awarded gold metals! That just goes to show how good they were! Even though the bowlers had some sort of disability they didn't let that stop them from going for the gold. As I said good-bye to my bowlers, Deb's mom thanked me for all of my help, and Janice and Deb both gave me a hug good-bye. That made all the difference in the world. All of the athletes that participated in the Special Olympics didn't allow challenge or disability to stop them from doing anything. This was truly an experience I will always remember." 
-Lizzy '17

Lizzy and Martina were not the only people to feel that way, everyone walked away with a story, a hug, something that really stuck with them. The bus ride back was filled with students bragging about the amazing scores their bowlers had, and just what made the experience so great.

"Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

The athletes were brave. They came out to the bowling alley and threw everything they had into the game. They laughed, they cheered each other on, and had the time of their lives. While our volunteers showed up to help them I think they helped us. They showed us the sort of attitude we should bring into our own daily lives, to strive to win, to do our very best, but if we don't then at least we can say we tried, and that we put our all into something.

UIS Vista

UIS Class of 2017

UIS Class of 2017