On Tuesday, July 25, 2017, the Transition Academy was hosted by MUST Ministries’ Marietta location. Founded in 1971 by the Rev. Wayne Williams, MUST “…addresses the basic needs of individuals, families and children with facilities in the Cobb and Cherokee counties and programs in numerous other counties.” MUST’s mission is “Serving our neighbors in need… transforming lives and communities in response to Christ’s call.” Being a volunteer-driven organization, the Transition Academy was able to volunteer while simultaneously learning about job tasks, running a non-profit organization, meeting deadlines, and much more. It was a great way to end the summer academy and a wonderful location to hold the Transition Academy Graduation.
The morning kicked off with the members of the Transition Academy introducing themselves to our hosts (the Program Team), by giving a brief spontaneous Eye Statement to describe how their visual impairment works. For instance, Alsu explained to the Program Team that having Septo-optic dysplasia, means that she sees best in dimly lit environments. Afterwards, the Program Team responded to our introductions by telling the TA participants about the history of MUST Ministries, before outlining some of their own daily job duties.
Kelly supervises the people who work at MUST Ministries as part of their community service. Usually, Kelly and her team handle the janitorial and house-keeping tasks for MUST Ministries, but they also keep the food pantry stocked. Chuck oversees the Thrift Store, which provides a source of revenue for all of MUST Ministries’ programs. Francis, the program director, shared MUST Ministries is a 46-year-old faith-based organization, whose mission is to serve their neighbors in need by providing both impoverished families and individuals with the goods and services they need.
The Transition Academy group broke into several small teams to aid the employees of MUST Ministries by stocking the shelves, handing out food in the pantry, and organizing the Thrift Store (among other things). For example, Brittany, Ayesha, and Skylar took turns steaming the children’s clothes and hanging them on a cart. Then, after the clothes had been steamed, Maggie and Gabby would take the cart to the thrift store. At the thrift store, Chuck showed them how to organize the clothes, for ease of shopper,s based on gender and size from infant through adult. Many volunteer hours are helpful in the store to keep it organized and stocked.
Josh Marks was interviewed for this week’s Transition Academy blog post. Josh is currently a rising Junior at Lassiter High School, in Marietta, Georgia. Josh’s preferred method of learning is through using a combination of audio and visual sensory input. After graduating high school, Josh hopes to major in Sports Medicine at Kennesaw State University. This would be an ideal situation, because one of Josh’s main interests is playing baseball.
Later, in honor of our final class, the Transition Academy volunteers and members had a graduation celebration complete with cake! Each student also received a graduation certificate to signify that they had successfully completed the course.
The afternoon was spent rotating through additional work stations. TA participants unpacked donated work shirts, re-stacked donation boxes, re-stocked the food pantry and unloaded donations for the MUST summer lunch program. In addition, a small group met with Linda Newman, past VRS Board Chair, to discuss strategies for preparing for the Math part of the SAT. VRS is planning to host monthly test prep classes should program participants need additional support in this area.
During the last few minutes of our visit to MUST Ministries, the Program Team thanked every member of the Transition Academy for the volunteer help they provided and the tasks they accomplished. Feedback was shared regarding things learned by both sides. Class members were asked to stay-tuned for Next Step Prep activities throughout the school year. As program participants prepared to leave MUST gave everyone a Gobble Jog T-Shirt to show their appreciation for all our hard work. A reminder was provided to the TA group that a good training 5K in order to be ready for this year’s Gobble Jog is to participate in VRS’ 9th annual Spooktacular Chase in October!