I believe in Magic.

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2016 has let me experience the true feelings of love, hard work, loss, compassion, happiness, fear, anxiety, excitement, and the most important — Magic.

This December I got the privilege to volunteer at Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee, FL.  The reason I got to experience such a life changing trip is due to CMU’s awesome Alternative Breaks program. What I truly admire Image may contain: 11 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoorabout this program is that students interested in volunteering during one of our school year breaks (weekends, winter, spring, or summer) sign up for a social justice issue they are interested in serving, instead of signing up for a place to attend. Therefore, I got to go on a week long service trip this winter break with 11 amazing women that were also passionate about uplifting families and children.

Volunteering at Give Kids the world for four days truly has made my believe in magic again. When people think of magic we often refer to Harry Potter and fairy tales, but the smiles on the children’s faces showed me the true meaning of magic. Give Kids the World Village is happiest place on earth – it’s a place where children with life threatening illnesses and their families get to experience a week long all paid vacation full of food, fun, and even tickets to all the Disney Parks. 

Though my role during the week seem pretty minimal, I know it made a big difference since this village runs on volunteers. For this amazing place to operate it needs over 2,000 hours of volunteer service, and my group soon realized after arriving how important this service was to the children and families.

Our first dayImage may contain: 1 person, outdoor of service I got to be two roles within the village, “Lori’s Magical Flight Gate Keeper” and one of my favorites, a worker at the Ice Cream Palace. As the Gate Keeper, I learned how to operate a ride where the kids get to ride butterflies, and that is where I met one little girl I will never forget. The details of my experiences with the children are private for respect of the families, but this little one instantly showed me so much love and happiness. Her smile on the rides was truly contagious. Then that night myself and 3 other girls (Lauren, Liz, and Payton:)) worked at the Ice Cream Palace, where we absolutely had so much fun. Starting the night we didn’t know how much fun serving free ice cream to the kids and families would be, but after we made countless of banana splits, sundaes, and shakes we soon learned the true joys of scooping ice cream to all the excited kids. It was such a busy night, since many families were out at the Halloween party, which allowed us to interact with so Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing and indoormany new smiling faces. Every family and children we interacted with during our week of service, and especially at the Ice Cream Palace, were so extremely nice and appreciative. Everyone and anyone that came in could order any crazy request of ice cream, and it was so fun to give a simple joy to the families. One little girl really touched my heart when she told us how volunteering with kids with special needs was a huge part of our life. She told us many stories that truly inspired us. Also one of my favorite moments of the night is when another little girl gave Liz a mask she made at the Halloween party, and then we preceded to make Liz wear it while scoping ice cream. The smile on the little girls face was so memorable.

Our second day of service was the one that impacted my heart the most. Not only was the day of service incredible, the group of strangers I came with from CMU became significantly closer by the second day. That day I worked in the Nancy’s Kitchen as a server in the morning, and at night I helped kids carry their trays while they looked all over the kitchen for yummy food to select. Working in the kitchen I met this family that I will never forget. The patience and love the father had for his daughter overwhelmed me with joy. The conversations I had throughout the week with this family is something I can’t explain. At these times it felt like nothing else mattered, because the conversations I was having seemed so magical and the most important thing happening in the room. It was awesome to listen to the girls stories about visiting the Disney Parks and what she wanted for Christmas. Just thinking about her and her family while typing this puts a smile on my face.

Also on our second day of service I learned about the most magical place within the village (and maybe on earth) – the Castle. The castle is where every wish child gets to create a star, and these stars are way more beautiful than the ones in the real sky. Each wish child gets to decorate their star, and the star fairy Stella willImage may contain: indoor take them up at night and place them on the ceiling of the castle. Then families can return and locate their star made in the past. As I walked into the castle for the first time, I got to see the ceiling glisten with thousands of stars, which made my heart pretty heavy. Give Kids the World Village has been opened for 30 years, and the castle has over 140,000 stars placed on the ceiling by Stella. Though the reality of that is heartbreaking, it is also a happy No automatic alt text available.realization because that’s over 140,000 families that were given magic during undesirable times in their lives. While I was in the castle, a girl was proud to show me around and show me all the magic placed around the castle. After playing for a while I asked if she made a star, and she looks at me with a glow in her face and says, “my sister is the special one, so she got to make a star.” The castle is
the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Up above was full of stars colored differently, some not as happy as others, but the castle shows no matter what you are not alone; the castle ceiling full of stars shows acceptance.

Our last two days of service I worked in the kitchen again both days. Though that doesn’t sound like the most glamorous job I really enjoyed it. Volunteering at Give Kids the World is more about the bigger picture, which is making every aspect of this vacation for these families stress free and full of fun. I actually really enjoyed carrying trays for kids and talking to them one on one! I found light in every single child I interacted with, and I wouldn’t trade it with anything. One little girl ran around the kitchen stamping kissy faces on our hands. So so so many smiles that I will never forget.

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Volunteering at Give Kids the World is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. It’s honestly so hard to describe the experience in words, but one thing I know is that it has touched my heart forever. While volunteering, I interacted with many children, and even though I knew the common factor of why the families were there, I never knew why the child was actually there. Looking at the children, I saw normal, happy children, and I think that speaks volumes. Some of these children were experiencing the worst, and most unpredictable situations, though they still continued to play, love, and laugh hard. A word I used a lot in this post was smile, because the amount of smiles I saw was unbelievable. I can’t imagine the fear and unknown the families we interacted with had, but one thing I know it was so inspiring to see their optimism. Seeing the happiness of the children showed me the true meaning of life, but in my eyes it was even more amazing to see how truly patient, caring, and supportive the parents and siblings were. The love that spread throughout the village was truly incredible to see and experience.

Give Kids the World Village motto is something I will forever live by after this amazing volunteer opportunity …  “where happiness inspires hope”. This will forever remind me that no matter what happens in life, no matter the situations, no matter the heartache life brings you, remember whenever you give happiness hope will be created. I am easily fearful of the littlest things, but after this week at Give Kids the World, I will never take anything for granted again. I learned the true meaning of love, support, and happiness at the village. I can honestly say the children, families, volunteers, and workers at Give Kids the World Village have changed my life

Thank you Give Kids the World Village for reminding me how important happiness, love, and hope in life truly is — and more importantly, thank you for showing me the real meaning of magic.

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This year I had the honors of serving as the CO-Chair with Hannah Rickers for the Special Olympics Michigan LEAD team. It has been my favorite and most rewarding leadership position at CMU so far. Hannah and I took a group to the 2015 SOMI Fall games, and facilitated an unified group together at the first ever Leadership Launch. The SOMI Lead Team was organized a little different this year due to the new event of Leadership Launch, and having such a time crunch from the start of the school year to the weekend of the fall games, but it ended up all working out perfectly.

The 2015 SOMI Fall Games: 

The fall games took place from September 25th – 27th located in Ypsilanti, MI. Hannah and I had trouble planning who was coming with us to the event, since only the Leadership Launch was required for our LEAD Team. The weekend also landed on a busy weekend with sorority recruitment weekend and the Michigan State VS. CMU football game at state. We tried to make sure our LEAD Team members understood the importance of this weekend, and many did end up coming with but we found more LAS members to take the place of students that could not attend. Even with last minute planning and cramming I really saw the weekend as a success. Every volunteer there was full of enthusiasm, passion, and professionalism; I was very proud of the group that came along. They showed me they truly cared about Special Olympics, and made such a difference at the games. I had a smile on my face the entire weekend because of the athletes I interacted with, as well as the outstanding personalities of our volunteers.

I was lucky enough to be one of the individuals that arrived before the games started to be a part of the Young Athlete program, which is my absolute favorite part of the fall games. The year before at Young Athletes I met a beautiful young girl named Abi who I feel in love with, and now I am still lucky enough to be in contact with her and her mother. Her mom could not attend the fall games with her this year, so we communicated to make sure I could spend the day with her at the program, since she was a very shy little girl. I was honored and excited to take care of her. We arrived a little late, but once I saw Abi we both ran to hug each other. All the teachers of her school knew I was coming, and welcomed me to hang out with Abi and her classmates. It was amazing to see the difference in Abi from a year before, she grew into a brave little girl who put a lot of trust in me. We got to play a ton of fun activities together, and her favorite was still soccer. Between each game they played music to move to the next station, and Abi and I loved to dance. Her laugh and smile was so beautiful to see, and I could not believe how much she has grown. Abi is truly an inspiration that I will never go a day without thinking about. She has inspired me to work with children, and continue to help young one’s growth and develop. I am so thankful Special Olympics has brought me to her. 

Then later that day it was Opening Ceremonies for the games, and my group of CMU students jobs were to welcome the athletes with happy and smiling facing. Many of us cheered and danced, and gave the athletes high fives as they walked into the room. It let me know that this weekend was going to be a great one. I was proud that everyone was showing so much energy and happiness, and most importantly acceptance.

Then the next day our LEAD Team was advised to volunteer with golf! Most of us were put into pairs then assigned golfers to drive around on golf carts and cheer them on as they played their round of golf. The golf course was HUGE, and beautiful, but very easy to get lost. I was placed with a female golfer named Ruth, and my volunteer pair was my mentee, Maddie. We had such a fun day getting to know Ruth. The day was full of laughter when I drove the golf cart to the wrong hole, or when we had to squeeze our three butts into a cart made for two people. We were lucky enough to let Dan Gaken capture a photo of us when we get stuck on a curb, Ruth laughed at me so hard. Ruth was also an amazing golfer, she ended up taking first place that day! Maddie and I were both so proud of her, and it was an amazing experience being a part of her day.

Then after our day volunteering with golf we got to be a part of the closing ceremonies, that was followed by a dance after that. Let me tell you, these athletes LOVE to dance. Being at the dance is way too much fun to describe. It’s a room full of so many smiles. It’s a room full of boys hitting on girls and asking them to dance, it’s just a hoot. I was lucky enough to even receive a few surprise kisses on the cheek from some athletes. I also never had an opportunity to be dancing alone, because everyone always has a part and everyone is always welcomed on the dance floor.                                   

The SOMI Fall Games is an opportunity that is hard to explain, and something you need to experience for yourself to understand. It’s a place where I found myself, and it’s a place where you are 100% accepted for who you are, and what you can do; not what you cant’t do. It’s a place where everyone loves everyone, and no one is left behind. It’s a weekend full of laughter and happiness, and I never want it to end. I volunteered with SOMI my first time freshmen year at the first ever fall games and I fell in love. I now continue to volunteer with the Special Olympics, because it’s the happiest thing to be a part of. Make volunteering with SOMI on your bucket list, you won’t regret the experience.

The 2015 Leadership Launch: 

The Leadership Launch was a new program that was created by a wonderful women named Kim Sampson. She created this event with the lovely Jesi Parker, that was accepted for approval at the SoGenUIn Summit at the World Special Olympics Games located in LA! Thanks to Kim and Jesi, Hannah and I got a be a big part of this new and improved created event. Kim envisioned an event where youth are activating youth to make a change. The Leadership Launch taught a group of unified (group with and without intellectual disabilities) students about leadership. Everyone was broken up into four different groups who went through four different group activities involving the topics of respect, inclusion, inspiration, and empowerment. 

Hannah and I facilitated the inclusion activity throughout the day, we did the (y)-knot activity. The group got into a circle, and was given a ball of yarn. The person with the yarn would have to say something about themselves, for example “I like to swim”, and then someone that likes that that too would say, “Me too!” Then you would pass the yarn to someone who had the same thing in common with you, while still holding onto a piece of yarn. In the end a huge web was created to show community and inclusion. The point was for everyone to understand we are all connected in someway. This was very cool for some students, especially for the students that tend to always feel left out. 

The thing I got out most of that day was seeing how empowered all the students were to make a change in their high school. So many of those students are left without a voice in their school and community, but still want to make a difference. When a group of students with and without intellectual disabilities comes together really creates significant change and it was just very amazing and inspiring to see. It was outstanding to see students help other students convey their thoughts and opinions, and to accept everyone’s ideas. All the students came from Michigan high schools who wanted to make a change, they want everyone to feel accepted and that’s truly life changing. A main thing we discussed throughout the day is that our generation is most accepting to people with disabilities, and that is HUGE! That is so important and so amazing, because this is the generation making the change for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. It’s truly amazing to be a part of that accepting movement.

I am so thankful and grateful for being a part of this LEAD Team and being involved with SOMI, I can’t thank the Leadership Institute and CMU for these amazing opportunities. 

Polar Plunge 2016

The Polar Plunge: the jump into freezing cold to spread awareness of the Michigan Special Olympics. This year on February 20th, was my first time every doing the Polar Plunge in Mount Pleasant, MI. I did the Polar Plunge in my hometown about six years ago to raise money for our local community pool and swim team, but I swore I would never do it again — but …  Michigan Special Olympics is something worth breaking that oath for.

As a CMU student, I was hand chosen to be on the Student Polar Plunge Committee, which was created to help promote and advertise the plunge. Thanks to all of our committee’s work, Mount Pleasant had the biggest plunge statewide.  Mount Pleasant raised over $70,000 for SOMI (Special Olympics Michigan).

I was on the Leadership Institute team, who raised the most money as a CMU group with $7,220 raised. As an individual I raised $1,205, which I tied with Hannah Rickers for the most money individually raised by a CMU student! I was honored to share this title with Hannah because she is a role model of mine that I always look up too, especially when it comes to being passion about and involved with SOMI.

The day of the plunge we expected over 490 plungers, and that is over 490 people that are advocating for people with and without intellectual disabilities; that’s truly impact. It’s not just about raising money to take a brave jump into freezing cold water, it’s about raising money for the happiest people on this earth. People with physical and intellectual disabilities are outstanding individuals that are worth getting to know, and that’s why I participated in the plunge.

The plunge donations were collected through firstgiving.com, or you could also receive cash/check donations. My site is called http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/megan-nemetz/MtPleasant16. Where people donated and read my story about how I am involved with SOMI.

Special Olympics Michigan is close to my heart, and I am so proud of this community for standing up for this cause. Also I want to thank my friends, family, and my community members for supporting me and helping make it possible for me to raise over 1,000 dollars. My first goal was set at $300, and I was lucky enough to set that goal to $1,000 thanks to all the tremendous amount of support. It was incredible to see family members, old teachers, and old friends donate to my page. I even had strangers donate to my page thanks to spreading awareness by the word oft mouth. I can not thank everyone enough for supporting me with my passion, but more importantly supporting the Special Olympics Michigan.

FCA: Future Child Advocates

This past year at main stage, which is an event CMU puts on that allows students to explore different RSO’s on campus, greek organizations, and clubs, and I found one that is very close to my heart – Future Child Advocates. When I was walking around, I saw a flyer that asked, “Want to become an advocate for children who are victims of abuse and neglect?” I finally thought I found an RSO that I could be passionate about.

FCA is a very small group on campus, since it is a fairly new organization on campus. Due to it being new, we experiment with a lot of different ideas; kind of a trail and error process. This group has very many ideas with not a lot of money and few resources to do so, but that hasn’t stop this group from trying to help out where and when we can. Our whole goal is to help children in anyway that we can, and we had two large success this year.

FCA put on our second annual Trunk-or-treat for the community of MoCRC49GwUcAQFRK8unt Pleasant on October 30th from 7-8:30 PM. This event consisted of many organizations from CMU including Best Buddies and SOMI Young athletes (and many more) that brought decorated trunks to lot 18 to pass out candy to children. This ended up
being a great turn out that gave children and families a face and happy environment to trick-or-treat.

A second huge success that FCA had this year was our first Toasty Tootsies sock drive. Socks are a very essential part of keeping warm and healthy during long winters, and many families lack this essential in our home of Michigan. FCA collected over 800 pairs of socks to donate to many families in need. Thanks to one of members, Caitlin Strobel, who collected over 600 pairs of socks herself. We would have not been as successful without her help and dedication to this cause. Since her community was a HUGE part in this sock collection over Christmas break we gave back to her community of Petoskey, MI by donating most of the socks to Pellston Elementary, Middle School, and High School. The remainder of the socks went to Clare, MI which is located about 20 minutes from Mount Pleasant.

My first year a part of FCA I was elected the Public Relations chair of e-board, which involved running the twitter page (@FCA_CMU) and Facebook page while advertising our events and fundraisers. Our group started out in the beginning with over 25 members, now we are down to about seven. I was elected President of FCA next year, which will be a challenge but it will also be very rewarding. My goal is to keep this amazing group around here at CMU; I have visions for this group to start making the difference in a small way that will make a huge impact. One of our biggest goals for next year is to start a backpack drive to provide backpacks full of supplies for students that need them.

I believe that FCA is helping me grow professionally and individually. Next year my leadership skills will be tested, along with my organizational skills and time management skills. This group is also helping me grow and develop my strong passion for helping children that are abused and neglected. This isn’t just some group I joined for the recognixition, it’s something that means the world to me.

Future Child Advocates seek to provide a voice for those who are left without one. 

Pre-Service Trip: LAS in the D

This Friday to Saturday LAS (Leader Advancement Scholars) will be taking a service trip to Detriot, MI. First on Friday we will be volunteering at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, where we will be facilitating leadership activities to teach the students of Jalen Rose Leadership Academy leader qualities, how to facilitate such activities, and just teach them about college in general. Then on Saturday we are spending our day volunteering for the Motor City Blight Busters. And then of course we will be stopping at locations in Detroit for food and entertainment, and also professional locations. We will be going to Pizza Papalis, Lowe Campbell Ewald, and the Detroit Institute of the Arts. It should be a fun filled weekend and I am looking forward to the adventure and seeing what Detroit has to offer!

What social issues in Detroit are you aware of? How have you learned about these issues?

I am not fully aware of the social issues in Detroit, Michigan. I am aware of the crime issues being presented in Detroit, and also that it has a poor economy. I have never really been well educated on the topics and conflicts in Detroit. The only times I have really heard anything about Detroit was in the news occasionaly if it was for a bad education system or how many murders they have had. I live in the Upper Peninsula, so I haven’t really been exposed to Detroit problems until I have came to CMU. My hometown football team of my senior year played in the Division 5 Football State Championships in 2013. A good proportion of our town (Menominee, MI) attended this football championships. The game was played in the Detriot lions stadium. As entered the hotel, we picked up a news paper that had a head line of No Murders in the Past 24 Hours. So that made it clear to us outsiders that Detroit has a violence and crime issue. Though I have never been educated on the upsides of Detroit.

In what ways does this service learning experience to Detroit relate to the purpose and vision of the Leadership Institute?

The Leadership Institute purpose and vision is stated as . . .

PURPOSE: Central Michigan University is committed to preparing Michigan’s students and citizens for leadership roles in an increasingly complex and challenging society.

VISION: The Leadership Institute prepares the next generation of individuals who will act responsibly to improve the quality of life, state of the economy, and communities in which they live and work.

I feel like the Detroit service trip I will be partaking in is word for word of the Leadership Institute’s purpose and vision. We are volunteering at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a new high school to the city of Detroit. Our purpose is to increase leadership roles in Detroit! We want to make a chain reaction which is just an awesome idea. We are going to inspire the youth, and we are going to better others. And I believe that’s all what leadership is about. Then we are fulfilling the LI’s vision by trying to help the city of Detroit. We want to improve our home state as much as we can on this service trip. Even if it’s a small impact, it is still an impact we are creating.

How do you think the trip to Detroit will help you grow as an individual?

I am very unsure how this service trip will help me grow. I hope it really opens my eyes and see how something so little can make a change. I want to make an impact with individuals every day for the rest of my life, so I think this service trip will help me see a different perspective on how to help others. I am very unsure how this service trip will make me grow, but I am ready to see how it does. I will be very open minded during this trip, and I am really excited to see what it has to bring. My degree at CMU is psychology, but I am still undecided what field I want to focus on in psychology. A part of me wants to work with the youth, so I will get in insight on that as well when I attend this Detroit service trip.

I am ready to make a difference in the city of Detroit, Michigan. 🙂

Special Olympics Basketball Tournament

This weekend I volunteered for a Special Olympic basketball tournament ran by district seven. This is the second Special Olympic event I volunteered for, and I just can’t get enough of it. These athletes are some of the most inspiring people I have ever met. They have such a positive attitude and determined mind set. The tournament was at Shepard middle school and high school. Each court was divided into different skill set level to make the teams far. I got to keep stats for multiple games through the day. I was happy to spend my Saturday at this tournament. Taking stats is usually a boring job but I really enjoyed seeing all the Special Olympic Athletes try there best for their time.  Not only did I bond with the athletes, I met new people at also attend CMU. I brought my roommate along this time to share the wonderful experience with me. I loved seeing her face during this new opportunity for her.  Also the head of district seven invited us to stay involved with these particular district of athletes, which I am really looking forward to. Special Olympics will always have a place in my heart. I can’t describes these events in words really well. I highly suggest to try to be apart of such an amazing program. They are truly amazing people.

New Years Resolution

swim3My new years resolution is to swim three times a week. I first joined a swim team when I was six years old. My mom placed me in swimming because it is a sport you focus on improving yourself, and it was to help me develop social skills. When I was younger I had horrible anxiety and I was really shy. Swimming started off as just a hobby but soon became my whole life. I absolutely fell in love with swimming and couldn’t picture my life without it. I was actually really good at it, and made state multiple times. I also made my best friends in swimming, and spent everyday after school in the pool and every weekend at swim meets. Then in high school conflicts began and caused it to be not as important. But swimming made me who I am today. I started to miss swimming this year. Way too much. So I made my new years resolution to swim three times a week. It’s a good way to stay in shape, and makes me not give up on one of my passions in life.

As a leader what do you really want in 2015?
In 2015 I want to find who I really am. I am currently going in all different direction and hope to find the path I want to follow for the rest of my life. I want to find what I am truly passionate about and spend my time wisely. In 2015 I want to be me. Also I want to live by my mission statement: Live by helping others.

What do you really need in 2015?
In 2015 I really need the support of my family. Family is the most important thing to me, and as I grow as a person and wonder away from home I am losing my family more and more. I miss my family and I really need to know if they support me along my life decisions.

What will you share in 2015?
I will share my positivism with others around me. It’s important to stay positive and stress free, or else you can lose sight in what is really important. I want to share the power of positive attitude.

What will you succeed at in 2015?
I’ll succeed in being myself in 2015. I spent my life always too worried about what others think. But this year I want to improve on myself, and do things for me. I will succeed in being myself and embracing who I am. 2015 is going to be a good year for me, and I promise myself that.