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This summer, first-year student Starre Haas will travel to New York for an International Public Service Project with VoteRunLead, one of the largest and most diverse campaign leadership programs in the country.
Haas will work with the nonprofit to help develop its rural leadership training program. She will observe how the non-partisan nonprofit conducts its trainings both online and at in-person workshops throughout the United States.
“They notified me over spring break that I will be the Lead Project Manager for what we’re currently calling the Rural Women’s Initiative,” Haas said.
She attended a Plate to Politics meeting in April. The one-day workshop offered hands-on skills training to women in food justice and sustainable agriculture who want to play a critical role in transforming the nation’s food system.
“We are happy to have Starre on board for this fellowship,” noted Erin Vilardi, CEO and founder of VoteRunLead. “It is through programs like this that bring us women with different skill sets and life experiences that help broaden VoteRunLead’s appeal and reach more women that want to run for office.”
In addition to her summer work with VoteRunLead, Haas will attend Women’s Campaign School at Yale University, a non-partisan, issue-neutral campaign program with the mission to increase the number and influence of women in elected and appointed office in the United States and around the globe.
This summer, 43 students in the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service Master of Public Service degree program will conduct International Public Service Projects. The students will travel to 28 different countries on six continents.
The Clinton School has now placed students in 89 countries since 2006 – 46 percent of the State Department’s 195 recognized independent states. This includes Namibia, France, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, three countries that are new IPSP host locations in 2018.
The Clinton School will be working with 22 new partner organizations this summer, including The Asia Foundation, American Bar Association, and Women Political Leaders Global Forum. There will be 12 returning partners, including Winrock International, Vital Voices, MassChallenge Israel, and Landesa.
“Having the opportunity to participate in high quality international and related work helps make the Clinton School experience special for our students,” said Clinton School Dean James L. “Skip” Rutherford. “The 2018 projects are exceptional.”
The international service component exposes the students to unique challenges around the globe. The IPSP provides immediate and long-term impacts for the students and their organizational partners.
Work sites and host organizations are selected collaboratively by Clinton School students and faculty.
2018 International Public Service Projects
Salina Adolph – American Bar Association Commission on Immigration (Washington, D.C.) – Adolph will create a comprehensive report of resources and support for immigrants in the United States who are victims of the fraudulent practice of immigration law, and this report will identify the gaps and needs of the issue based on the availability of resources in various jurisdictions. This project will begin the process to provide national coordination for immigration lawyers and advocates who seek to assist immigrants who are victims of the unauthorized practice of immigration law.
Katie Barnes – Peacework Vietnam/Teach for Vietnam (Hồ Chí Minh City and Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam) – Barnes will be assisting Nicole Hellthaler with teacher training during the Teach for Vietnam Summer Institute. Additionally, the two will join Nicole Kanu on a civic engagement program implementation for high school students.
Megan Burrow – Arthik Samanta Mandal (Vijayawada, India) – Burrow will be evaluating the organization’s education programs. She will also be conducting workshops at schools in the region.
Mark Cameron – Awamaki (Ollantaytambo, Peru) – Cameron will serve as Awamaki’s Coordinator of Monitoring and Evaluation. His role will include organizing and carrying out surveys and focus groups, as well as developing and implementing workshops for Awamaki’s women’s economic empowerment project.
Joshua DeBruyn – European Community Organizing Network (Romania, Hungary, Slovakia) – DeBruyn will be working to increase access to money for community organizing in central and eastern Europe through research, outreach, and concerted action.
Rachel Cole – Arkansas Teacher Corps (Arkansas) – Cole will create and facilitate cultural competence and critical consciousness for pre-service teachers. She will also develop a monitoring and evaluation plan for the program to understand the impact of the training.
Connor Donovan – CESi Engineering School, Angoulême – (Angoulême, France) – Donovan will be working with CESi staff and local business professionals to help plan for the creation of a technopole in the city of Angoulême. He will conduct research to identify useful resources and services that the technopole should offer individuals and businesses seeking to develop new technologies and get them to market.
Dylan Edgell – Awamaki (Ollantaytambo, Peru) – Edgell will join Awamaki’s monitoring and evaluation team to measure their economic and social impact on both the Quechua and larger Ollantaytambo community. He will also work with Awamaki’s sales team to analyze sales data and provide recommendations for the organization.
Connor Flocks – MassChallenge (Jerusalem, Israel) – Flocks will work with MassChallenge, a nonprofit startup accelerator, on programming, curriculum, and mentorship for 52 startups. He will also evaluate the success of the accelerator’s program in meeting the needs of the companies.
Marina Giannirakis – The Asia Foundation (Hanoi, Vietnam) – Giannirakis will work with the Asia Foundation’s Gender and Social Development Office to assist and finalize communication and development materials for various projects. She will assist in the development of an evaluation report for the project “Protection of the Rights of Overseas Migrant Workers,” will assist the team with a new mobile banking project, and will assist in the finalization of a research report on women-led small and medium enterprises in Vietnam.
Starre Haas – Vote Run Lead (New York, N.Y.) – Haas will serve as the lead project manager for the Rural Women’s Initiative which will conduct political training for women that reside in rural communities. Vote Run Lead has trained over 26,000 women to run for office.
Nicole Hellthaler – Peacework Vietnam/Teach for Vietnam (Hồ Chí Minh City and Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam) – Hellthaler will observe and train teachers at their Summer Institute to prepare them for classes in the fall. She will also help to develop a new program, “Design For Change,” which is intended to increase civic engagement among students.
Mariella Hernandez – Give & Surf (Bocas del Toro, Panama) – Hernandez will conduct a needs assessment to determine the health and nutritional inadequacies that impact the local population of Bocas del Toro. Based on this, she will create a program plan and develop and implement educational workshops to address these issues.
John Jackson – Novulis (Ecuador) – Jackson will be working with Novulis and Agora Water to develop a safer community water system to address heightened levels of minerals including fluoride and fecal coliforms in the current local water supply. John will be coordinating with Novulis, Agora Water, local communities and government entities to generate funding, and address the issues presented from the affected communities regarding this issue.
Julie Joy – Canvasback (Marshall Islands) – Joy will complete an evaluation of the Community Lifestyle (Diabetes) Program to serve as a guiding document as the organization continues to improve its monitoring and evaluation capacity and processes.
Nicole Kanu – Peacework Vietnam/Teach for Vietnam (Hồ Chí Minh City and Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam) – Kanu will be conducting an organizational needs assessment for the Teach for Vietnam program, along with researching participant recruitment strategies. In conjunction with the marketing team, Kanu’s assessment will work to restructure their current marketing plan and work to increase participant recruitment.
Eric Kouadio – Limited Resource Teacher Training (Kanunga, Uganda) – Kouadio will support the collection and analysis of data across 12 different cultures in Limited Resource Teacher Training’s service areas. He will also develop and review the organization’s monitoring and evaluation tools.
Jason Lochmann – Mercy Health (Huancabamba, Peru and Fort Smith, Ark.) – Lochmann will help expand the organization’s medical mission by assessing community health needs in Huancabamba, Peru. He will translate and analyze the data to inform Mercy’s program development in the Piura Region.
Wes Manus – Winrock International (Bangladesh and Nepal) – Manus will provide a final evaluation for the past five years of Winrock International’s efforts of promoting sustainable economic growth, food security and agricultural development in southeast Asia through USAID’s Farmer-to-Farmer program. Manus’ work will determine the efficacy of past intervention and help to guide future international development efforts in the region.
Patrick McBride – Journeys Within Our Community (Siem Reap, Cambodia) – McBride will be creating and conducting an evaluation of JWOC’s Scholarship Program, which has just completed its 10th year. Additionally, he will be assisting the organization in creating a skills database and conducting a social network mapping analysis of the program’s alumni.
Christine McCall – Wesley College (Mwanza, Tanzania) – McCall will research best practices for servant leadership programs and develop a curriculum for Wesley College’s Servant Leadership Center.
John Mensah – Canopy NWA (Fayetteville, Ark.) – Mensah will design a research methodology that combines both quantitative and qualitative methods, to furnish Canopy NWA with a well-rounded, holistic understanding of the community’s perceptions. Canopy is a refugee resettlement program specific to northwest Arkansas.
Crystal Mercer – The Nubuke Foundation (Accra, Ghana) – Mercer will create a strategic plan for the use of creative mediums to fulfill the mission of The Nubuke Foundation’s commitment to recording and preserving Ghanaian culture. She will also assist in implementing artistic programming, including theatre workshops and poetry, that serves the patrons of the foundation and connects them to culture parallels of Ghana’s rich history.
Yaala Muller – Vital Voices (Washington, D.C.) – Muller will assist in the incorporation of a new qualitative data analysis software into the organization’s monitoring and evaluation program.
Adriana Ongay – Give & Surf (Bocas del Toro, Panama) – Ongay will be assisting in launch a new community center in Bocas del Toro that will provide the local residents with resources and services to increase opportunity and access to education. She will be conducting a needs assessment and program development.
Izehi Oriaghan – Landesa (Washington, D.C.) – Oriaghan will support the development of Landesa’s emerging campaign on Women’s Land Rights by conducting background research and helping to develop messaging and other communication around the campaign. She will also support other regular global advocacy and communication activities of the organization.
Wesley Prewett – Zoona (Cape Town, South Africa) – Prewett will assist Zoona in planning and implementing a series of financial inclusion pilots across underbanked markets in southern Africa.
Beth Quarles – Girl Scouts Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas (Little Rock, Ark.) – Quarles will focus on developing partnerships within the Hispanic community with the intention of recruiting volunteers and girls to springboard into a Girl Scout program in the Hispanic community. She will also be involved with direct programming for the girls, work on community cultivation, and provide support to current members.
Kirby Richardson – Winrock International (Yangon, Myanmar) – Richardson will be working in conjunction with Winrock’s Value Chains in Rural Development program in Myanmar in order to assist with conducting data analysis and program evaluation. In addition, Richardson will be responsible for assisting with methodology development and internal capacity building.
Mallory Rusch – Women Political Leaders Global Forum (Brussels, Belgium) – Rusch will be working on final preparations and execution of the organization’s annual Women Political Leaders Summit, which will be held this year in Vilnius, Lithuania on June 6-8, 2018. Lithuania is hosting the 2018 event in celebration of 100 years of women’s suffrage in Lithuania.
Madhav Shroff – The Asia Foundation (Colombo, Sri Lanka) – Shroff will work with the Foundation’s Justice and Gender team and contribute to program development, program implementation, and documentation on commercial mediation. He will also assist with developing a proposal for fund raising to further develop the Asia Foundation’s work in Sri Lanka.
Joseph Stepina – Peacework/Vietnam Campus Coalition (Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam) Stepina will create a needs assessment for a civic engagement initiative. He will assist the Vietnam Campus Coalition determine how to increase civic engagement among Vietnam’s college students and universities.
Amy Stewart – Arkansas Community Organizations (Little Rock, Ark.) – Stewart will be organizing community members around the issue of renters’ rights in the state of Arkansas. The anticipated work will involve outreach, communication, and message development with diverse populations.
Sara Swisher – Awamaki (Ollantaytambo, Peru) – Along with two other classmates, Swisher will conduct interviews and focus groups to contribute to the organization’s yearly evaluation report.
Ravyn Towns – HIPPY Canada (Vancouver, Canada) – Towns will collect the stories of HIPPY Mothers detailing their experiences of familial and personal change they’ve experienced as a result of their participation in the program. She will systematize the findings from previous years and identify and publish findings on the emergent themes.
Allison Tschiemer – U.S. Department of State (Bern, Switzerland) – Tschiemer will serve in the public affairs division of the U.S. Embassy in Bern to enable the exchange of knowledge and values among Swiss and American citizens and to effectively advocate U.S. foreign policy interests and American democratic principles across various media platforms.
Clay Turner – LGBT Consortium (Exeter, England) – Turner will develop a map of LGBT organizations outside of London that will be used to identify potential members for the LGBT Consortium. He will gather data by conducting interviews.
Nora Viñas – Accenture (Washington, D.C.) – Viñas will be working with Accenture Consulting focusing on non-profit corporate citizenship strategy.
Brandon Wayerski – Ozark Natural Foods (Fayetteville, Ark.) – Wayerski is working to identify market opportunities for immigrant farmers who have difficulty selling their goods outside farmer’s market settings. He will interview farmers and local businesses to assess the feasibility of a food hub that would mitigate barriers these farmers must overcome to develop essential business relationships with local establishments.
Rebecca Webber – Kenya Relief (Migori, Kenya) – Webber will work in conjunction with the Kenya Relief staff to implement a new medical records system and create an evaluation plan which will serve as the foundation for a monitoring and evaluation program for Kenya Relief’s new clinic. She will train new staff on the medical records system, identify data collection processes, and create measures which will be used to assess the performance of the new clinic at Kenya Relief.
Brian Wegner – Cheetah Conservation Fund (Otjiwarongo, Namibia) – Wegner will create a comprehensive report spanning Cheetah Conservation Fund’s 25+ year history. He will also assist with evaluation of the organization’s guard dog and education programs. In addition, Brian will serve on the day-to-day operations to make the Cheetah Conservation Fund a safe and healthy environment for Cheetahs needing rehabilitation across Namibia and the African continent.
Marquisa Wince – Probation and Aftercare Services, Ministry of Interior and Coordination (Nairobi, Kenya) – Wince will work in partnership with the department to conduct an evaluation of the current treatment programs offered to youth offenders in Kenya. She will be supervised by Clinton School Alum, Florence Mueni, who currently serves as an officer in the department.
Karen Zuccardi – Avani Eco (Bali, Indonesia) – Zuccardi will conduct market analysis on North and South America for Avani, a social enterprise. She will also assist with road shows throughout Indonesia in key segment markets.
Mariella Hernandez was awarded the B.A. Rudolph Scholarship at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service on Friday. The B.A. Rudolph Foundation awards the $12,000 scholarship annually to a woman who is a rising second year at the school and who best embodies the mission and values of the Foundation. The B.A. Rudolph Foundation established the scholarship in 2015 in honor of the organization’s namesake, B.A. Rudolph, a 1978 graduate of the University of Arkansas and a member of Bill Clinton’s gubernatorial and presidential staffs.
“Like B.A., Mariella is strong, generous, passionate, and fully committed to helping others.” said Mary Bruce, Executive Director of the B.A. Rudolph Foundation. “We are proud to support Mariella as a student, a mother, and a change maker in her work to reduce healthcare disparities and increase access and provision of health services so that healthcare can be enjoyed by all as a human right.”
A graduate of UA Little Rock, Mariella Hernandez earned her bachelor’s degree in international studies with a minor in philosophy and religious studies. In addition to her work as supervisor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science Office of Translation and Interpreting Services, she has served as an advocate for the Hispanic community in Arkansas for more than 15 years. Hernandez’s public service interests include children and women’s rights, public health, social justice, food and housing accessibility, and international affairs.
“Thank you to the B.A. Rudolph Foundation for this generous support,” said Clinton School Dean James L. “Skip” Rutherford III. “B.A. was a friend of mine and her legacy of leadership and public service continues through the great work of the foundation which bears her name. I believe B.A. would be thrilled knowing Mariella received this noteworthy scholarship which bears her name. Mariella is most deserving and will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of many others.”
About the B. A. Rudolph Foundation
Established in 2011, the B.A. Rudolph Foundation champions the educational and professional development of progressive women for whom a small amount of support could make a significant difference. Currently, the B.A. Rudolph Foundation provides scholarships to women participating in unpaid or underpaid public service internships in the Washington, D.C. area as well as nationwide in STEM fields.
Serving Phillips County communities since 2009, Delta Circles is a nonprofit organization with the mission to support families, end poverty in those families’ lives, and inspire communities to commit to long-term solutions addressing poverty.
The Clinton School partners with Delta Circles in regard to strategic planning, organizational development, and the planning of its community gatherings, with the goal to better engage in community conversations with families and create additional partnerships with other organizations in the Delta.
Executive Director Patricia Ashanti, who is currently enrolled in the Clinton School’s first EMPS degree cohort, founded Delta Circles in 2009. A Helena native, Ashanti was inspired by the work of Dr. Ruby Payne, an expert in generational poverty best known for her book “A Framework for Understanding Poverty” and accompanying workshops.
“If it was not for the Center on Community Philanthropy, I don’t think we would be able to continue to serve the community the way we have,” Ashanti said. “Their partnership has been consistent and has helped us to make an impact.
With funding and support from the Clinton School of Public Service and Arkansas Community Foundation, Delta Circles runs free classes — “Getting Ahead” and “Financial Literacy” — to help people develop skills to tackle problems they may face as they try to lift themselves out of poverty.
Another example of Delta Circles’ work is its savings group, “Women Increasing Net-worth” (WIN). Started in 2017, WIN includes opening a savings account with Hope Credit Union and attending weekly meetings led by Ashanti to increase financial literacy, knowledge, and skills.
The first class saved almost $10,000, increased their credit scores by an average of 89 points, gained an additional income of over $6,000, and eliminated the debt of two credit cards.
“Although we don’t serve a large number of people at one time,” Ashanti said. “We are changing the lives of the people we do serve.”
How was Delta Circles initially connected with the Center on Community Philanthropy?
Initially, we were connected because we were, at that point, a community development organization. We were dealing with the issue of poverty and had started doing something that we continue to do today, classes called “Getting Ahead in a Just Get By World,” in which an individual looks at poverty, how it impacts their life, and how it impacts the community. At that time, I believe the Clinton School was focusing on the Move the Needle initiative which helps to move people in Arkansas out of poverty. Their community liaison was looking for community partners who were addressing the issue. They’d noticed that we were already doing similar work, and that’s how we connected.
How would you describe Delta Circles’ mission?
Our mission is simply to support families, to end poverty, and to do that by enhancing the community as we move forward. The way that plays out, we work with individuals primarily in small intimate groups. By working with individuals, we find that as they gain the knowledge to improve their lives, it transitions into improvements for their entire family.
It helps them to look at the issue of poverty differently for their family. After being introduced to concepts like generational poverty and situational poverty, they’re able to understand why they made decisions they’ve made in the past and how they might want to do things differently. We also help them to clarify their vision and plans for the future. We become a conduit for them and connect them to other partners, like the community college or the department of workforce services.
How did the Center on Community Philanthropy help with the mission?
Initially, they helped us by providing Clinton School staff that would come and facilitate our focus groups and community meetings. We were provided with a practicum team that helped us to create a stakeholder’s analysis which was a tremendous help. They continue to assist in our community conversations about poverty and workforce. Also, they are great sounding boards for me as I work through different concepts and ideas. Even though I’ve worked through them with our team, which is small, it’s nice to have another eye to look at our missions and goals for a particular project. They’ve been very helpful in that regard and in so many other ways
I have meetings with Kevin Hunt and Kent Broughton. I meet with them on a regular basis, and they really help me to better understand the meaning of community philanthropy. Since becoming connected with the Clinton School, it has helped me to understand and recognize how individuals in our community are philanthropists in the giving of their time, talents, and treasures. Just working with Kent and Kevin, they’re able to help me to see the value of what we’re doing on a larger scale.
Supervisors: Roshunda Davis and Toyce Newton
Community planning and organization is needed to create economic opportunities within the Desha County region and break the cycle of poverty. This project assists in identifying key formal and informal leadership within the communities served and uses these resources as a backbone for community organization, to identify and engage local, regional, state, and national assets that can strategically plan and execute the plan to bring a sustainable solution of economic opportunity to the southeast region.
Mission: It is the mission of Phoenix Youth and Family Services, Inc.to create opportunities for rural and impoverished residents!
“The Clinton School for Public Service Team’s work has proven to be extremely valuable in Desha County. Their complication of work will allow Phoenix to evaluate our work up until this point and will further allow direct, intentional and focus on our work in the future.” – Toyce Newton, Phoenix Youth and Family Services President and CEO
Lindsey Clark (Class 3) was accepted as an Internal Medicine Primary Care resident at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Clark will begin her residency in Lexington this fall.
Andrea Price (Class 7) was announced as policy director with Greater Richmond Fit4Kids in Richmond, Va.
Jessica DeLoach Sabin (Class 10) was named political director for The NewDEAL, a national network of and local leaders working to expand opportunity for all Americans in the changing economy.
Mary Wolf (Class 11) accepted a position as a readmission prevention care manager at Independent Care Health Plan in Milwaukee, Wisc.
Stephen Bailey (Class 7) accepted a position as producer for VICE News in New York.
Khalid Ahmadzai (Class 11) is relocating from Kabul, Afghanistan, to Fayetteville, Ark., to become Director of Employment and Integration for Canopy NWA, a refugee and immigration resettlement organization.
Each spring, the City of Little Rock kicks off a new year of sustainability by hosting the Sustainability Summit. The Summit provides central Arkansas residents the opportunity to learn, network, and leverage their sustainability efforts with the efforts of others.
Clinton School student Karen Zuccardi (Bogotá, Colombia), whose upcoming International Public Service Project with Avani is focused on sustainability, also serves on Little Rock’s Sustainability Commission. She had the opportunity to speak to the more than 300 attendees of the summit, held Thursday, March 29 at Robinson Auditorium.
“One thing that makes the Clinton School unique and special is it allows us to do an international project in our area of passion,” Zuccardi said at the summit. “My area of passion happens to be sustainability. I’ll be doing my international project with Avani in Indonesia this summer. Avani is a social enterprise with technology-driven solutions for our global plastic problem.”
Zuccardi and other members of the City of Little Rock’s Sustainability Commission distributed biodegradable bags to all attendees as an example of Avani’s work.
Avani’s vision is to become the nation’s leading pioneer in sustainable alternatives, offering eco-friendly packaging products ranging from shopping bags, F&B packaging, and hotel amenities.
Zuccardi’s path to working with Avani began in the early weeks of her time with the Clinton School. She first heard about the social enterprise on social media in the fall of 2017. After browsing its website, she reached out to Avani to try to learn more about how to get involved.
She didn’t hear back initially, but through her work on Little Rock’s Sustainability Commission learned that Avani was looking to bring its products to American cities. She finally spoke with Avani CEO Kevin Kumala in December. Kumala said he would review her information and follow up in early 2018.
Once the pair finally had their interview in January, Terry Mazany, an adjunct professor at the Clinton School currently teaching Social Entrepreneurship, helped Zuccardi prepare.
Kumala told Zuccardi he had done his research on the Clinton School of Public Service, studied her resume, and they wanted her to help Avani do business and market analysis for Latin America and North America.
Her other duties with Avani include marketing communication for the local Bali market; assisting with the possibility of setting up cassava bag production machinery in Little Rock through proper due diligence method; transfer of knowledge behind Avani products; and assisting Avani with its road shows.
Zuccardi leaves for Bali on May 16. She hopes to extend her work with Avani into her Capstone project as well.
“I’m very thankful to everyone in the city who has given me the opportunity to dream, do research, and see what we can bring from Indonesia to Little Rock, Arkansas.”
University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service student Andrew S. Treviño of Greeley, Colo., has spent the past four months completing his final Capstone project with the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS) working on the Arkansas State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis (Opioid STR), a grant totaling nearly $8 million over a two-year period, which Arkansas received from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in an effort to curb the nation’s opioid epidemic.
For Treviño, this work is personal.
“I lost my older brother, Eric, to an opioid overdose in December of 2016,” Treviño said. “After my family experienced that unbearable heartbreak, I decided that my time at the Clinton School would be devoted to finding real, proven, and lasting solutions for people like my brother who are suffering from this debilitating disease. No family should have to feel that pain.”
That is exactly what Treviño has done.
For his capstone project, Treviño worked directly under the Opioid STR Project Director Roshonda Chaney-Bowden, to assist in DBHS’s efforts to expand medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to three populations of focus struggling with opioid use disorders: pregnant and parenting women, individuals re-entering the community from incarceration, and individuals who received Naloxone for an overdose.
As a result of his assistance, the Opioid STR grant has seen tremendous progress.
“Andrew has provided, and continues to provide, support in every area of this grant, from obtaining STR statistical trend data statewide and nationally to spearheading workgroup meetings with the State’s premier eight-funded substance abuse treatment providers,” Mrs. Chaney-Bowden said. “He truly is a remarkable human being whose dedication and hard work has made a lasting impact in Arkansas’s approach to the STR grant. I am proud to say that this young man possesses the leadership, optimism, motivation, persistence, strong work ethic, teamwork, reliability, and consistency needed to affect positive social change in our world today.”
After graduating in May from the Clinton School, Treviño, who is a concurrent Juris Doctor candidate at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, plans on working with DBHS on a continuation of the Opioid STR grant while finishing his law degree.
About the Arkansas Division of Behavioral Health Services
Within the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), the Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS) is responsible for ensuring the provision of public behavioral health services, including mental health and substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery services throughout the State of Arkansas. DBHS supports, certifies, licenses, and funds behavioral health providers throughout the state. In addition, DBHS operates two behavioral health institutions – the Arkansas State Hospital located in Little Rock and the Arkansas Health Center in Benton.
For this week’s Spring Break, five Clinton School students have traveled to Houston to participate in rebuilding efforts with SBP for Hurricane Harvey. Throughout the week, the students will be posting reflections on their work. Today’s post is from Emily Loker, a second-year student from Madison, Wisc.
When I imagined our time here in Houston, I thought we might be dog-tired or I might make a mistake and be relegated to the doghouse but I certainly didn’t think home restoration would be such a slobbery, muddy, tail-wagging experience. And I’m not talking about building materials here.
During orientation the first day, our site supervisor, Paulina, casually mentioned that the homeowner had a dog, named Paloma. “Volunteers always fall in love with Paloma, he’s a huge fluffy dog!” Paulina said knowingly. We went out back and were greeted not only by Paloma, who is as beautiful as his name—which means “dove” in Spanish—implies, but a German Shepherd puppy.
Our group, which included three AmeriCorps members and the five of us, let out a collective squeal as we took turns playing with the puppy, who was making noises somewhere between a sheep and a pig. “I’ll call him Baby,” Paulina soon declared.
Baby and Paloma, as well as half a dozen stray or loose dogs have kept us company as we work and, ironically, have humanized our experience. Since many of the homes in the neighborhood are also being rehabilitated or are still empty, the dogs represent the life of those forced out by the flood.
Until today, Rambo had been one of those dogs for me; he winded between mailboxes and car chassis with as much purpose as an eight year-old free from their parent’s vigilant gaze. A sweet little terrier, Rambo seemed to be mixed up in a rather fraught situation with two other dogs. “Yes, that used to be his girl,” Jack, another AmeriCorps volunteer at our site told me on Monday. We have watched as he, in the earnest innocence only a dog of his size can, tried to growl away a boxer at least twice his size from a female pit bull mix. From the boxer’s nonplussed reaction, it appeared that the odds were not in his favor.
This morning, as Brian as I continued to embrace the steep learning curve of tiling a bathtub for the first time, we had an unexpected visitor: the neighbor across the street, Ronnie. Not only did Ronnie graciously show us the progress he had made on his house (and a far more efficient mortaring technique to boot), he revealed that he was Rambo’s owner. I beamed at the small bit of newfound understanding. Although not as pint-sized and adoring, meeting Ronnie textured my service experience as much as his tiny companion.
On Saturday, we hope to meet the man who owns the house we have been working on. I look forward to hearing more about his experience during and after Harvey and his sentiments about the renovations almost as much as I anticipate the big hug Paloma will give him as he approaches his space in the backyard.