Break Away 2015


“Our guys have the same goals and the same aspirations as you do too, but only with a different timeline.”

Susan said this sentence many times over the last few days when we were volunteering in Springfield, Missouri. She is the director of Champions Athletes of the Ozarks, an organization that focuses on training and improving the lives of people with disabilities, majority of them diagnosed with autism, in the local area.

She is a caring and compassionate woman, who has an incredible passion for this nonprofit, as she has been with it for 40 years. Who knows how many lives she has saved, but according to David – the autistic friend we have just been close with, she is everyone’s protective guardian. Helping her to arrange the office last Tuesday morning, I came to realize that there are basically too much work for this woman to handle: legal documents to archive, emails to read, grants to apply for, curriculum to design, and most importantly, individuals to care for. And I guess she’s old-fashioned, that’s why she refused to follow my suggestion when I mentioned Evernote as a tool to keep track of her work.

Anyway, what definitely attracted us were the fascinating stories about the individuals we were working with that she told us. There’s Alex, a 16-year-old boy who’s obsessed with Tomas Trained reading. There’s Cory, same age with Alex, who enjoys playing his Gameboy more than anything else. And there’s David (mentioned above), who’s been living with Susan for years and becoming much more high-functioning than he used to be. I, Cubby, and Ryan worked with David on Monday reading in the first day and immediately made personal connection with him. Talking about Monday reading, it’s the training program to teach mentally low-functioned people math (under coupon ads) and basic levels reading.

Tina and Kristine working with one disabled individual

Tina and Kristine working with one disabled individual

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Break Away 2014


In front of Dr. King's House in Montgomery

Break Away is truly one of the most memorable experiences I have had in my first year at college. This is a week-long service trip held during Winter Break for college students to visit and volunteer at a community in need of improvement in the U.S. Each trip has its own unique focus: arts & cultures, education, social justice, health & nutrition… Last year, there were 4 trips: 2 to Illinois, 1 to Maryland, and 1 to Alabama. Continue reading