I recently had the opportunity to talk with Jordan Fuhr, a Psychology student here at Missouri State. She is participating in service-learning through a Psychology course titled Human Diversity, taught by Dr. Adena Young-Jones. Jordan is completing her service-learning at the Rare Breed Youth Outreach Center, a program for homeless or at-risk youth that provides a clean, safe, drug-free environment. Youth at the Rare Breed may receive counseling, food and clothing. Also available are activities, GED classes, bathing and laundry facilities. I would like to thank Jordan in advance for sharing with us her experience:
What have you been doing thus far with the Rare Breed?
So far I have been completing my training and I have even begun to communicate with the youth independently. I have been able to help in every area of the Rare Breed center including the kitchen, the clothing dispensary, and the front desk. I have worked as a greeter, as well as in the office and also I’ve been able to participate in an empowerment group for the youth.
What has been your favorite moment with the Rare Breed?
My favorite moment so far has to be the conversation I had with a young man about his sobriety. I was simply asking how his day had gone so far, after some hesitation he informed me that he had been sober for approximately 12 hours (keep in mind it was around 6:30 pm). This broke my heart, but I knew I needed to be strong and supportive. I congratulated him and we continued chatting about the day’s events. This small conversation really opened my eyes to what some of the youth in our community are lacking, helping me realize that I chose the right place to volunteer.
What was the most challenging moment?
The most challenging thing while at the Rare Breed is to not let myself get too friendly with the youth. Since many of them are the same age as me, we are able to converse about various things we have in common and it is sometimes difficult to keep myself from wanting to help them in all the possible ways I can. I just have to remind myself that what I am doing is helping and that I don’t need to give cash or rides to these young people in order to make a difference in their lives.
Did anything about your service-learning surprise you?
I am surprised that I like volunteering as much as I do. I am also surprised that this experience has led me to consider working at a youth shelter in the future as a case worker.
How do you feel the Rare Breed contributes to the betterment of the Springfield community?
The Rare Breed helps the community in so many different ways. Considering all the resources they offer youth, I couldn’t think of a better place to volunteer or support. They have helped hundreds of youth get jobs, homes, food, clothing, education, etc. Not to mention the personal support the youth are getting when spending their time at the Rare Breed; many of these youth have never had a warm and inviting atmosphere where positivity is all you feel. I am 100% in support of everything the Rare Breed has to offer the people of the community.
What led you to choose your community partner?
I have a friend who was helped by the Rare Breed a few years ago when she was going through a tough time, so I knew a little bit about what the Rare Breed had to offer. I did a little more research on them and decided I wanted to contribute to everything they offer.
How has your service-learning experience related to your academic coursework?
This volunteer opportunity relates impeccably to my coursework. In fact, since working at the Rare Breed I have developed a psychological study which is currently seeking IRB certification that involves the youth who attend the Rare Breed specifically. This project will be used as a capstone for one of my senior level courses and I am excited to see the data.
How did your academic coursework enhance your service-learning?
My past and current coursework has helped me communicate with the youth. I have a few youth who are actually seeking my assistance in behavior change program development (quitting smoking, sobriety etc). I have also been able to relate to them as a whole with better ease because I am learning about diversity and how all of our qualifiers contribute to our experience as individuals in society.
Would you recommend service-learning to others?
150% YES, I would highly recommend doing service learning and I would recommend doing so at the Rare Breed specifically!
Jordan will be completing her 40 hours of service-learning this month. She is one of the many students who have the opportunity to engage her coursework with much needed service for our community agencies. A big thank you to Jordan, all our service-learning students and faculty(in this case Dr. Young-Jones) and the community partners that make this happen!