The following report was submitted by a Regis University student as part of a special Regis/Community Educational Outreach student volunteer program. Regis students worked within the CEO program during the 2013/2014 school year – working directly with CEO clients supporting them with tutoring for pursuit of GED and employment obtainment. After completion of the program students were required to submit three essays including a “Character Sketch”, a “Critical Incident”, and a “Mission-In-Action” story all based on direct experiences.
A CEO Character Sketch by Michael Bovee – Regis University
One of the things that I initially struggled with concerning my work at CEO is the level of anonymity it necessitates. As a somewhat closed-off and soft spoken individual, it is difficult enough for me to get to know people on a personal level in a normal environment. So, entering an unfamiliar environment in which I am told to not divulge personal details to those with whom I work inevitably complicates the matter. Moreover, the individuals I do meet typically do not care to share personal details with me. Interaction felt forced and sterile for me at first; it was as though I was just an automaton who would go into ICCS every Monday at 3:30 like clockwork, go through the motions of tutoring, and then leave. This, as explained in my critical incident paper, began to change throughout the semester, though. I ended up feeling more comfortable in my environment and was in a way freed up to empathize with and thus better understand those around me. Perhaps one of the most significant individuals in enabling this process for me was Melissa, who coordinates afternoon volunteer and client interactions at ICCS Lakewood.
From our first meeting on, Melissa has always been amiable and has assisted me in working with others. Our interactions were limited at first, but over the course of 13-14 weeks I believe it is safe to say that I have gotten to know her somewhat well, at least on the surface-level. One of the primary contributing factors to this is that for the past month or so – however long we have been experiencing nice weather – few clients come in for tutoring during my allotted time slot. This has entailed a lot of standing around and, of course, conversing with CEO staff. After she graduated from college with an English degree, Melissa worked with adult immigrants, many of whom were illiterate, who were attempting to learn English as a second language. This in and of itself illustrates her patience and resolve; I feel as though instructing others in a language entirely foreign to them without you yourself being able to communicate in their native language would be immensely difficult. After struggling with the bureaucratic limitations of resources for a couple years, she left that job and began her work with CEO.
Seemingly, Melissa is passionate about helping others, especially those whom society has neglected or left behind. She is incredibly patient with clients and seemingly gets along with everyone. She has a knack for helping clients while at the same time allowing them to figure things out for themselves. I, at least, am under the impression that she occupies an important role in the community of CEO and that she truly enjoys what she does. That is not to say, however, that what she does is easy nor that there are not plenty of obstacles in her way. Clients who neglect to show up, lack of funding, and changes in GED curriculum are a few of many hardships faced by a CEO employee. Moreover, I cannot even imagine the stress of being a mother and essentially having to ensure the intellectual well-being of not only oneself and one’s family but also of dozens of ex-convicts. It takes a particular kind of person to fill a position such as Melissa’s, and although I do not know her at a personal level, I believe she is very suited for it.