Saturday, August 1, 2015

Youth Service Alliance

It’s been a long time coming, but I finally did it. I am starting a nonprofit. You could say that Shia LaBeouf's motivational video helped out a little bit (it’s just so empowering). It just sort of fell into place one morning while I was sitting at my desk; everything I ever wanted in a non-profit organization was there. So I got to brainstorming, and with the help of  some friends and family and mentors, the Youth Service Alliance was born. I have a passion for volunteerism. My high school volunteer experiences are some of the main reasons that I chose to pursue my degree in Social Work. Organizations like Rotary International and Salvation Army are two of the first organizations I ever volunteered with. As a high school sophomore in 2009, I attended Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY ILCS) and that experience and many others were a catalyst to a lifetime commitment of serving others. My volunteer experience in high school was formative and impactful. I love volunteering with organizations that mirror my passions, and I believe youth should have the same opportunities.

Huffington Post published an article calling the Millennial generation more passionate than our parents. Forbes says that we “geek out too much” over everyday things. NPR says that we are way more focused on civic and community action instead of national politics, and while our work ethic may be much lower than anticipated, our individual skills and priorities are different from generations before us. Where our parents and employers may feel incredibly discouraged by those statements, I am encouraged. I see passion in our generation that is just unchannelled -- imagine what Millennials could accomplish with passion directed towards organizations that are already creating change in their communities. I see a generation of people more impacted by local stories and creating local change than concerning themselves with the politics at a national and international level. Millennials, more than generations before us, are taking an interest in social change at an incredibly personal level.  The trend does not seem to go away in the unnamed generation after us, either. It’s these students that can be change agents in their community, solving problems and saving the world before they even graduate from high school.

My experiences working with volunteers in college helped me notice a need: we need to equip passionate students with resources to be better volunteers. I am incredibly passionate about that, because I have seen how volunteering with churches, schools, soup kitchens, and nonprofits like Rotary and HOBY can change a student's perspective on the world around them and motivate them to make meaningful change on a regular basis.

So now what? That's where Youth Service Alliance comes in.

Youth Service Alliance

Youth Service Alliance is a program for youth that introduces them to volunteerism in a new way.  By partnering with organizations and nonprofits in the community, youth will get the opportunity to create a lasting, committed connection serving in their community. The connection will go beyond volunteer hours completed on a regular basis. This connection is meant to be personal and meaningful, showing students the importance of connecting and serving in the community.

How?

The Youth Service Alliance is a dual partnership between students and organizations, to train students to be more effective volunteers and to give organizations the tools and training to create an environment that utilizes the skills of volunteers well.

Students in 7-12th grade would be eligible to participate in the program. Nonprofit organizations,  community organizations, or churches who use volunteers on a regular basis are eligible to sign up to be an Ally. From there, we will develop volunteer and leadership skills in the students, partner each student with an organization that reflects their passions. The goal is to create a partnership that will last for years, to encourage students to volunteer, and to develop leadership skills and life skills in these students.

Interested in becoming an Ally? Go here.

Why?

Why not? What 7-12th grader couldn’t benefit from volunteer experience, life skills training, and leadership development? What organization or nonprofit couldn’t benefit from volunteer coordination and training to make their organization more volunteer friendly? The idea is to create a partnership that is meaningful and beneficial to both students and the organizations they serve.

GoFundMe

It takes a lot of work to start a nonprofit. But I have been lucky to have the makings of a very dedicated and passionate team. Before we can fully get things into motion, we are taking time to plan, read, and develop our strategies. We are also filing for 501(c)3 status. This process all together will cost us around $800. It is our goal to raise $1,500 with GoFundMe.

I’m really passionate about this, and so we are reaching out to family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and anyone else willing to donate. I believe in the power of social media, and I believe it can do a lot of good.

Connect

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

6 Hobbies I Tried to Have


6 Hobbies I Tried to Have: 
This is a semi-humorous account of 6 hobbies that I attempted to have. Some of them I still would love to be able to master, and then some of them I'm completely over. But I was feeling nostalgic, and it seemed like a good way for me to share a little bit of my life with you.

1. Cake Decorating: Have you ever been to a wedding and seen a beautiful cake and thought, "I can totally do that!" Welcome to the club. The summer after I was in 10th or 11th grade, I was all into weddings and I wanted to be able to do all inclusive planning. So that included the cake. Plus, I learned that you can make fondant from scratch and that's just dope. So I wanted to learn how to make those cute scalloped patterns and pretty roses on cakes. I never made it to the class. I tried to make icing myself one time and that was it. It was mostly sugar and some vanilla I think, but I couldn't figure out what made icing thicker (mind you, I was just guessing because this was still a little before Pinterest). I also thought that I could ice 96 mini cupcakes in one afternoon, but that is another story. (See number 5).

2. Sewing: When I was like 9 my mom signed me up for a sewing class. Mind you, I'm left handed, so cutting in straight lines didn't really go well for me anyway, but then I tried to cut stuff like fleece. If you look up nightmare in the dictionary, it's a picture of me trying to cut in a straight line.  But after a few weeks, I got pretty good at cutting. But then we had to do the actual sewing part. I was okay at it, but then we skipped from making very simple coasters to A REVERSIBLE TOTE BAG. I mean it had so many steps I am still recovering. There was a plastic mesh bottom piece that I remember having trouble with.I had to sew it inside the bag. How on earth people make clothes is unknown to me...like how. I haven't gotten past the fleece blanket. It was at that moment, I knew I was done. It was sad. But, in happier news...I got that sewing machine back. Old Faithful. So here's to trying my hand at sewing again (Stay tuned. This could be laughable.)

3. Interior Decorating: I can't even remember how this was a thing. I know that I come from a long line of house lovers and HGTV watchers, so that's probably it.  But I definitely had this software called Home Designer. That's it. Home. Designer. But let me tell you, I could create a killer two-story home with furnished BONUS ROOMS. Dining room tables, game rooms, kitchens. EVERYTHING. Now, this dream job/hobby is a little bit hereditary. I come from a family of Model Home tourists. When new neighborhoods go up, we would go visit the model homes and dream. I grew up watching Trading Spaces. We even DID Trading Spaces at my house. My sister decorated my room and I decorated hers (Complete with teams and paint and furniture. Thanks, Mom & Dad). That being said, I still really love house stuff, but I can definitely go to a department store and not have to go walk past the pretty beds. (JCPenny Home Store, I'm looking at you.)

4. Fashion Designer: I also went through the fashion designing stage, but also who didn't. But if you remember from my sewing days, I can't cut. Also, if you know anything about me, you know I can't draw. I still love fashion and clothes so very much, and shoes even more. But the whole designing thing didn't last. I did once try my hand at paper dolls, but it also didn't work. Just know, there was a lot of zebra print involved. A good amount of neon colors also made an appearance. Just imagine.

5. Cupcake maker: For a few months in high school, I considered not going to college so that I could open  a cupcake shop. It was going to be adorable. I'm not sharing the name, because on the off chance I decide to follow that dream I need to make sure no one has stolen it. But although I don't dream of owning a cupcake shop anymore, I still love baking. Don't worry, that passion will never go away (hopefully).But there was an attempt one February, where I wanted to make some mini cupcakes. If you have ever been curious about how many cupcakes you make with one box of cake mix, let me help you out... it is no less than 96 cupcakes. Yes, exactly, FOUR LESS THAN 100. And you know how long it takes to ice them? WAY LONGER THAN A SUNDAY AFTERNOON. You will have to freeze half, and ice them over the course of the next few months. Unless you have a deep freeze, don't bother.

6. Dance: I did in fact take dance lessons. If you've ever seen me on a dance floor (or any floor for that matter...) then you've probably wondered, "Is this girl professionally trained? She's a natural." I would be inclined to agree. I feel like I do pretty well with dancing. I remember my dance days well, age 2 (or 3). My first dance recital involved the world's most uncomfortable costumes. A cardboard box (I was a robot) and something teal with sequins (because WHY NOT). I also remember being picked up by a boy (totally not my jam, don't touch me, kid.) and I also remember something about being in a bridal themed number. Those may have been the same thing. I also remember that I had flat feet, so it completely negates the whole "point your toe" foundation of ballet. So that was technically impossible for me, because my foot was literally without an arch.  So dancing fell by the wayside, and when Just Dance entered the scene of video games, I picked back up this hobby. Whether or not I discontinued this hobby, well...I'll see you on the dance floor.

I like looking back on those fond memories of attempting to sew, and that time our kitchen was just cupcakes. Now that I'm all grown up (HA), I can see how my old hobbies have grown me into the person I am today. So that's pretty cool. I love dancing at parties, baking and decorating cupcakes and cookies, buying clothes, and perusing home stores. I hope you enjoyed my tiny trip down memory lane. 


(I just really like this photo and need to put it in a blog post). 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Trinkets.

Welp. I haven't made just a Trinkets post since like July. What in the world? What happened? Good grief. I need to get my life together.  It's crazy how fast these days are flying by. Senior year has been good to me.



photo credit: By Heart Photography 

Christmas break was nothing short of magical. I slept so much it's insane. I caught up on sleep from like sophomore year of college. Just in case this Christmas break could be my last, I wanted to make sure it was absolutely fantastic. Which meant a lot of sleep and a lot of Netflix. I adventured through St. Louis, spent some time finding new places in Belleville to hang out, and spending some time with friends. I'll be honest, I did an unhealthy amount of Netflix watching over break, but I did read some books that I have been wanting to read for YEARS. I finally bought the end of a series I've been wanting to finish since 7th grade (yeah, I'm that behind.) and I also "bought" all of the A Wrinkle In Time series. My little fairy tale loving heart was SO excited.

One of the best parts of Christmas break was travelling to Colorado for Natalie and Isaac's wedding.  Morgan and I got to be adults and fly on planes and unnecessarily early hours all by ourselves and take sketchy taxis back to the airport at 4 AM. I loved every minute of it. I got bit by the travel bug and now I just want to plan road trips for DAYS.


The St. Louis Art Museum has my heart. And historic St. Charles has the cutest little shops.  




One day over Christmas Break it was 70 degrees outside. So naturally we took to the park with Sonic Happy Hour, books, and chips and salsa. Now today it's sleeting and gross and yucky snow is still on the ground. Will it ever be spring? Like it's okay, just somebody be honest with me? WILL I EVER KNOW WARMTH AGAIN? 



One day, Pyeatt and I just drove to Arkansas and went to Crystal Bridges because why not. It's cool there, it's pretty there, and my best friend is pretty. (Everything is awesome).  





Bekah came to visit me and it was the absolute best ever because I love her. 




Valentine's weekend this year topped everything. It was perfect. There was Galentine's Day, hanging out with girls at my house and eating way too many donuts and pancakes. And also chocolate chips and whipped cream. A lot of sugar. Then there was a party with my gals where we played all sorts of silly games and watched The Wedding Planner and ate more junk foods. Basically my Valentine's day weekend consisted of junk food, a lot of laughing, and wearing fun dresses. I wish it was Valentine's all year long. 



Here you can see college seniors in their natural habitat singing  screaming the chorus to 'Let It Go'. #noshame But it was in fact the most fun murder mystery I have ever been to. 




So we had a 90's Country party to celebrate Morgan and Doell turning 22. This was our "pose country" take of the group photo. I don't think we'll ever get this right. 



see more of my #2015trinkets on Instagram 

Monday, March 2, 2015

3 Things I Learned in Kid's Ministry

I'm on the tail end of my undergrad college career. With a little over 70 days until Graduation, I've started reminiscing on my experiences in the past few years. Working with kids has been one of my favorite things for years, and they have taught me exponentially more than I could teach them. But here are the top three reoccurring things that I have learned.  

1. Expect the unexpected. I have been working with the same lovely group of kiddos for almost four years, and no two days of serving with them has been the same. Sundays, Wednesdays, weekends, camp. It's a new adventure everyday. On any given Wednesday night, there could be blood, an toilet overflowing, a kid could eat a plastic bag, or we could have a fistfight. But on the same night a class could have a discussion on the importance of prayer and how amazing God's grace is in our lives. A few weeks ago, I found myself answering the question "Why can't I be good without God?' to a bunch of K-3rd graders. Even when I pray for opportunities to see the Holy Spirit move in the lives of these kiddos, I'm still so incredibly amazed by what the Lord can do. I never want to lose that sense of amazement. I never want to put my God in a box. I want to pull that sort of thought process into my life on a regular basis. Not only to expect the unexpected in what God can do, but also what kids are capable of. Just as soon as I think I know what's going to happen, they surprise me. They make me love living my life on the edge. 

2. When Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven" he wasn't kidding. Do not hinder then.The witness they have on their families and each other can be incredible. Just like putting God in a box, I'm sometimes guilty of putting these sweet kiddos in a box as well. The Holy Spirit doesn't discriminate based on age. 1 Timothy 4:12. Just because they're kids, does not mean they cannot witness. Sometimes their innocent outlook on the world is a refreshing perspective on the gospel. They warm my heart.

3. When I declared my major as social work as a freshman, I had no idea what I was getting into. I fell into a season of doubt. I doubted if I made the right decision, if I would even be good at it, or even it was a real passion in my life. One of the most reassuring moments in this collegiate journey took place on a Sunday morning with the sassiest, third grader and our conversation about what happens after death. You can read about that day here. I didn't know how much that day in Kid's Church would impact me. 

A midst all the crazy days serving with kids, I have learned so much. They have an incredible thirst for knowledge. They want to serve the people around them. When I grow up, I want to be just like them. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Bye, 2014.

Happy New Year.

Or whatever. I know January is over, but I still hope you have a Happy New Year. My slow processing brain is still trying to file away all the lessons of 2014 in my little brain Rolodex. Still. But 2015 is here! 2015 is one of those years I never thought would come, just because it always seemed so far away. When I was in the 2nd grade, my class all signed a t-shirt with "Class of 07" on the back. I remember thinking how far away 2007 felt. The journey from 2nd grade to 8th grade was a blur and I don't even remember 2007 anymore (except for Fergie's Big Girls Don't Cry.). But then it was 2015. My expected college graduation year. 

May 16, 2015. It's fast approaching. It's going to be crazy. 

So that's how I'm dealing with 2015. It comes in waves. I'm either so excited or so weirded out by the situation that I forget what is happening. But then I start doing stuff like looking at potential Master's of Social Work programs and buying Lisa Frank coloring books at Walgreen's. And yes, those happened in the same day. So I would say I'm handling it very well.

I am taking the new year one day at a time. Which is why it is now February 5th (Happy Birthday, Dad) and I haven't really had the time to blog like I planned. Or to read books or play the piano like I planned. I have actually done nothing like I planned. God is funny. He will probably never stop showing me that, because I am a doofus.


#2015trinkets // Trinkets of 2015 (photo credit: Ashley Pyeatt)

So here it is. 2015. Once month down and eleven more to go. I'm taking this year to focus on you guys. I want to dedicate much less of my life to myself and more of it to serving and loving on the people God has placed in my life this season. I want to hear your stories, I want to sit with you and learn about you. I want to serve alongside you and serve you. I want to have people over for dinner, go get ice cream, and also go get corn dogs. Man, I love a good Sonic run. I also want to pray for you. So let me know how I can be praying for you, friends. Let's do 2015, together. 




Demi and Joe couldn't have said it better.  So why not open up that door? It's what we came here for. 


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Advent & Focus




Happy December, friends. It's my favorite time of year. The Christmas Story is my favorite passage for a few reasons. It was the first passage of scripture I ever memorized. Kindergarten. New Life Christian Academy. Montgomery, Alabama. Luke 2:1-20. Every year I get to remember how five-year old me felt about the Christmas Story. I was overwhelmed by memorizing a whole twenty verses. I was curious. I was excited. I wanted to know stuff. You know? Just exactly how many animals were there? What do frankincense and myrrh smell like? I mean, sometimes I really wonder just how beautiful Mary was? She's the earthly mother of Jesus. I know she was absolutely stunning. Think about that.
Advent season is fun because I go to church and hear sermons on my favorite thing for a few weeks. Such a wonderful time, everything is wonderful. Everyone is happier.  But it's not just that. It never fails, every year I learn something different from the Christmas story. Last year, God reminded me just how glorious he really is. When the angels appear to the shepherds, the glory of The Lord shines around them. I make a feeble attempt to imagine what the glory of The Lord looked like to them and I am speechless. This year, I think Advent is going to be a challenging, reassuring time.


Every so often it is imperative that someone remind me what's going on. Sometimes I get confused. I get confused about where my life is going, where I am supposed to be, and especially what on Earth I am supposed to do. Or worse, I start working on my own agenda. I get cocky and I think I know best. For instance, Thanksgiving Break was great, but by Saturday I was absolutely lost and completely confused about what I needed to do to not fail all my classes. It's like I had forgotten how to actually study, write papers, and complete assignments. But luckily, there's a cure for that. Jesus. And there's nothing like Advent to refocus.


Focus. The entire Christmas story has one main focus. Jesus. The shepherds. The angels. The wise men. Even the animals gathered around to see (or at least that's what the illustrations depict). Even the star. One main focus. The most important day in the whole world and everyone had the same focus. To me, the simplicity of the concept that gets me the most. So much happening, but converging on one marvelous thing. It's that simple. My focus should be on The Lord, plain and simple.
Simpler said than done. We live in a world rampant with distractions. Not only is advent a wonderful time to focus on The Lord, but it is a fantastic time to strip away the distractions in life. Let God be your focus this Advent season. Take every opportunity to be still and rest in the wonder and glory of the Christmas story.








"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" Luke 2:14


Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Autumn Affair

One of my favorite things to do is plan parties. I love having people over at my house and I love cooking for people. Parties are typically one of the easiest ways to combine the two. This fall, Ashley and I wanted to host a brunch at our house, but we wanted it to be unique. After some serious Pinterest browsing we came up the theme: lumberjacks and pancakes.

All it took was three boxes of pancake mix and two things of syrup. My sweet friends brought eggs, breakfast casserole, and doughnuts and it was perfect.

You put on a flannel shirt and I guarantee you'll start craving pancakes in no time. Throw in some axe-throwing, coffee, and lots of laughs and I give you : The Autumn Affair.

Family Pictures , take 1,000

I will forever love hosting parties with this girl. 

Friends and Walls

Photo Credit: Taylor Smith

Taylor James trying to talk in an accent with a mouth full of marshmallows. 

I love a living room full of people. 

"Once a princess, always a princess." // Photo Credit : Easton Roye

Photo Credit: Taylor Smith






Our kitchen is my favorite room in the house.  
Friends who brunch together, stay together. 

We probably ran the dishwasher three times that morning, not to mention people were washing dishes for us. But it was worth it. My day was instantly made to see people walk into my house wearing flannels and wielding axes (which were immediately put in the backyard because boys are boisterous and clumsy). I am so thankful and immensely blessed to call these people my friends and to live alongside them.

This morning was one for the books. It had friends, pancakes, cozy shirts, and laughter. Pancakes or not, friends, you are always welcome at our house. Don't be strangers.