Mirta Harris was our first GAIN applicant, through a Cal State LA program called EPIC (Educational Participation in the Communities) which creates opportunities for university students to implement classroom theory in real life situations. The GAIN program provides employment-related services to CalWORKs participants to help them find employment, stay employed, and move on to higher paying jobs, which will ultimately lead to self-sufficiency and independence.
Mirta enjoyed her work for EngAGE so much that she wrote a thank-you letter to Nancy Goodhart, C.A.O., and Sandra Vargas, Regional Programs Director, which she kindly is allowing us to share:
I attended my last anthropology class last night, and my professor mentioned that the EPIC office (the office which helps connect the students with the organizations for the service learning opportunities) will be having a luncheon to celebrate the students who participated in service learning. They required that the students write a little bit on what they took away from service learning and I felt so strongly about my experience that I wanted to share it with you as well.
First, I want to tell you both how thankful I am that you gave me a chance to be a part of the team, to be able to make a difference in the lives of others. I am honored to be a part of EngAge’s cause, and I strongly believe we make a difference in a community that needs it most.
This is what I wrote:
Service learning has been an incredible journey because of a myriad motives ranging from growth to networking opportunities. Yet, most of all, this experience helped me see a different world; a world that I have the power to help, to ease the growing pains of others by offering a kind smile, an open ear, or a shoulder to lean on. The time spent in service learning at Metro Hollywood has opened up my eyes to the power of having different outlets that encourage creativity. The offered classes helped raise the residents’ self-esteem and confidence by creating things that they could be proud of. As a result, the guidance they received nurtured their soul and the energy they were radiating was of a most genuine feel. The residents were ecstatic to be around friends and a comforting teacher, and they enjoyed their time together. I am honored to have been a part of that ambience, it has been an unforgettable experience.
What I took away from this experience is unlike anything that can be obtained through paperwork or networking; I took a feeling of fulfillment, of immense joy for helping others in their time of need, a blissful sentiment at their sense of happiness. When the service learning time was up, I wanted more, so I offered my time outside of school; I am now employed with EngAGE’s wonderful organization that brings creative outlets to independent senior living communities.
This non-profit organization is committed to redesigning the way people grow old by bringing them access to free yoga, art, English as a Second Language, gardening, crafts, and jewelry-making classes, among many others. The smiles and authentic conversations were what sealed the deal for me; I knew that this is what I would want to do to make a real difference in the world, uplift others and make an impact in the most positive way.
Thank you for allowing me to work with you.
With utmost gratitude,
From EngAGE: Thank *you*, Mirta! We’re delighted by your enthusiasm and energy.
~ Nancy Goodhart, C.A.O., and Sandra Vargas, Regional Programs Director
NOTE: There’s a lot going on at EngAGE, so we have two blog posts today!