Friday, August 28, 2009

Two and a half weeks out...

It's been a slow, yet busy last two weeks since I finished my internship at Starlight Children's Foundation in Chicago!! I had a surprising ending to my stay there. For one, I received a call early on Wed Aug 12 (my last day) from the principal at a school I was applying at. She wanted me to come in for an interview for the Literacy Aide position. The interesting thing was that the only time slot she had available was the following day, Thursday, at 1:15pm. YIKES! I agreed, called my mom and got arrangements made for my dad to pick me up by 7:30am the next day to head for MI! Going into my last day at Starlight, I announced that I was in a bit of a rush and would have to leave by 12:30 or 1:00pm so I could mentally prepare for my interview. The morning flew by and I made last minute notes and arrangements for the intern who would take my place in responsibilities. My boyfriend, James, was waiting for me down stairs at that point, coming off of an Amtrak train and I was glad to see him! We were able to walk the streets of Chicago for a few hours one last time, including taking pictures by Lake Michigan. (see the pics on my facebook)

We had a surprise 4th birthday party for the little girl I lived with and it was great fun!! After finishing some packing and mentally preparing myself for my interview the following day, James, Brenna, Naomi and I went to Navy Pier to watch the weekly fireworks display. It was quick and loud but worth my three month stay in Chicago. :)

The following day went fast... Got up early, put all my stuff upstairs by the door and ate a little bit to settle my churning stomach. My dad arrived shortly after 7 and we packed up, said our goodbyes, and drove four hours to MI!!! On the way, we got permission for me to get cleaned up at a friend's house before heading over to my interview. I confidently went in, interviewed for the job and left smiling with pride. By the end of the day, I was told I would know whether I had the job....

Back at my parent's house, I unpacked and breathed a sigh of relief that I was done. Sitting on the porch swing outdoors with James, I received the dreaded call. I did not receive the position :'( Fortunately, I had kept telling myself that even if I didn't get the postion, it was a great opportunity and I would learn from the experience. I sure did, though it was hard.

The next week or so was filled with job searching, resting, cleaning four years of stuff from my room, and trying to make it through one day at a time without a job. Currently, I have put in one more application at a school for two positions, so hopefully I can get an interview and just maybe, a job. :-D

Lots of waiting... yet still searching for jobs. Keep praying.. and I will keep you informed on the next phase of my life...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Two days to go!

Time is flying by here in Chicago! I have just two days left at Starlight and I can hardly believe how much I've learned and grown in just three months. Big cities do that to a small-town girl, that is for sure! ;)

In just the past week, I've helped take reservations for events, send out confirmation letters and then see one event in action. The event was actually my internship project and I met 20 Starlight kids and their families at the Kane County Cougars baseball stadium for a game against the Clinton Lumberjacks. It was a good day for a game, including nice weather but unfortunately the Cougars lost 9-1 ouch! The evening ended well with fireworks though. :)

My job was to meet the families and hand out their tickets and food vouchers. The neat thing about Starlight is that, within their budget, they provide free events for the Starlight kids and their families. We often can get donated tickets to events or at least reduced priced tickets, which is what I did. There are quite a few minor league baseball teams in the area-- it's pretty cool. You should check one out sometime if you are ever in the Chicago area.

So for my last few days, I just have to tie up loose ends and make sure I transition out smoothly. There are three other inters still there so I can leave feeling that there is someone to continue what I've been working on (taking reservations and helping to plan events) and confidently walk away, having learned alot!! If you ever get the chance to work or intern in a big city, especially at a non-profit, I suggest doing so! There is so much to learn, not only about the organization, but also about city life and yourself... How YOU fit in to places, how you cope when you are lonely and what it means to have no money for three months.

My blog won't end here though... my goal is to continue to update it as I move into a real job (hopefully soon!) Thank you for your support thus far... your attentiveness is appreciated!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Last two weeks!!

Wow! It has been while, and I failed to realize how time is flying by!!
Since my last post, I've been doing a lot of work in the office, and only one other event has happened. I was suppose to go to Eli's Cheesecake on July 26th but it turns out there was not any need for my help, so Amy, the Program Services Coordinator went herself.
Last week, Wed around 12:30pm we got a call from a french woman (not kidding) who wanted to offer us 100 tickets to a horse show called Cavalia for THAT evening! Quickly, my day changed gears and I was instructed to send out an email to all the families with email addresses to invite them to the event. For the next three and a half hours, I received emails and phone calls from excited parents who wanted to attend. We filled up the 100 spots easily and the other three interns attended that night. The next day, the same thing happened, except we filled 44 spots and I got to go with the Executive Director. If you don't know about Cavalia you can check it out: It consists of horses trained to follow instructions from talented acrobats. It's slightly hard to explain but it is quite awe-inspiring and I really enjoyed going with the Starlight kids and their families.

That is the day in a life of a Starlight staff-- one day you expect to do one thing but within a few hours (or minutes, depending on the day) you are asked to do something completely out of the ordinary or unexpected. I like to be on my toes, so this experience has been good for me.

Let's see... office work still is part of the internship and I do that daily. Outside the office, I've been to a few more places. Kendra, my sister, visited a few weekends ago and we went to the Shedd Aquarium (pictures on facebook), ate at the famous Giordano's pizza, walked through Millenium and Grant park, and went to Navy Pier. All before hopping on a train to Michigan. The cool thing about the certain Amtrak train was that two of my friends, Emily and Tyler, were also on that exact train from Montana so I got to sit with Emily and catch up on our lives. :-D More adventures are bound to happen soon enough. This Saturday night I am taking 25 or so Starlight kids and their families to a Kane County Cougars minor league baseball game! I am excited to do it because I organized it all and it's been a great learning experience!

Next week I finish up my internship on Wednesday, I can hardly believe it! From there, I will be heading back to MI and hoping for the best in the job market. I have a few resumes out there, I just have to keep praying and let God do the rest. As you think of it, if you could include me in your prayers, I would appreciate it!

Even though, I haven't been to all these places yet, here are some suggested places to check out: -Shedd Aquarium, -Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower), -John Hancock Center, -Lincoln Park Zoo (It's FREE!!), -Millenium Park (especially in the summer), -Grant Park (where Buckingham Fountain is located), -Any museum!, -Sporting events (Bears-football, Cubs-baseball, White Sox- baseball, Red Stars-soccer, Fire-soccer, Sky-baseketball...) -Chicago Symphony Orchestra, -Navy Pier, -SHOPPING :-D

I plan to continue my updates, even as I move away from Chicago and start other adventures in my life. I hope you are still interested in keeping up with my life... Let me know what's going on in your life too! I am interested to hear!!

Until the next time I remember to write...

Monday, July 13, 2009

CRUISING to the end

I am nearing my last month at Starlight... which means only a month left to enjoy the Chicago sights without additional travel expenses. At least now I know some attraction locations and when I do return for a visit, I will have some street knowledge. If you decide you want to visit and are interested in the downtown "loop" area, let me know. I can either tell you things or lend you a map to help you get around. It's actually not as complicated as it presumes to be. You just have to know the system. :)

Last week is a blur... all I know is that we were preparing for our annual Cruise which took place yesterday (sunday july 12) at Navy Pier. We took the Odyssey boat on Lake Michigan and travelled with 382 kids and their families for about two hours on the water. It was GREAT fun, for both the families and Starlight staff and CNA (local insurance company) volunteers. We left at 3:30pm and arrived back to the dock at 5:30. I had forgotten my camera but snapped a few shots with my phone, which can be available to see on facebook. There was also a photographer who took some amazing shots so once we get those pictures back from her, I will snag what I can for my memory sake.

Part of our activity on the boat cruise included fun chicago themed worksheets, word searches and coloring pages. We also had a sheet of questions that the kids were to ask other starlight families, Starlight staff and CNA volunteers. We all had a blast learning about Chicago and each other. Odyssey has three levels and then a top 'observatory' deck, and while I was assigned to the top level, I roamed each floor, dancing to music with the kids, meeting guests and enjoying the sun and sights. Time went by fast and soon we were back on the shore, cleaning up.

Future events for me include a tour of Eli's Cheesecake (july 26), the event I will put on (TBA) and possibly another one at an IMAX theatre (Aug 9), sponsored by Starlight's board president. Soon, I will be back in Michigan.

As you think of it, pray for my health, as it seems to be suffering a little by stress. And also pray that I am able to find a job back in MI. There is a lot that goes into that process and I am only at the beginning of my search.

Thanks for reading... stay tuned!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

GREAT Escapes

Wow! What a week! And it's been just that. A week... full of fun and activity! I attended two Great Escapes Events with Starlight Kids. One was a bowling event last Friday and another was a Red Stars Women Soccer game tonight!! :)

Friday June 26, around 2, two other Starlight staff and I went to a bowling alley called Waveland bowl to get set up and welcome families. From there we helped register families, my first time meeting most of the families and it was great to finally see the people I've connected with by phone. I enjoyed seeing the joy on the kids and families' faces as they bowled. We were there during the cosmic bowling time too, so that meant black lights and fun music to jazz up the afternoon.

The weekend was spent with James in Algonquin at his Aunt and Uncle's house. Only his Aunt and one cousin were there and we had a blast going to a barnyard zoo, eating at TGI Fridays, walking, talking and enjoying the nice weather! The time sure went fast though!

The beginning of this week was ok, nothing too new at the office. Just finishing up projects here and there. Today, I worked in anticipation for 8.5 hrs and then headed off with the Event coordinator to Toyota Park for a Red Stars Soccer game. It was neat because neither the other Starlight staff or I had ever been and the game staff there were VERY helpful and welcoming. Even though we had decent seats, we got better ones.... With two Starlight children in wheelchairs, We were able to sit RIGHT BY the Red Stars bench and practically ON the field!! This was a really fun accomodation and we had front row seats to a WINNING GAME against Washington Freedom!!! The kids were extremely excited and were able to meet some of the players after-- and so did I! I felt like a kid again and was just as excited as the children and families. As we were leaving, the staff asked us to come again anytime. I hope it works out and maybe I will be able to be a part of this great event too! Being a support and help to these families, just by being with them, smiling and offering a hand, means the world to them-- and me. I am looking forward to more events with the Starlight kids and families. In a couple weeks I will get to take part in one of the BIGGEST events for Starlight-- the CRUISE.

In the meantime, I am back to the office to plan and prepare.

Keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I continue to learn and grow from this internship!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nearing the end of two months!

It's been two weeks since I posted and nearly two months since I started my internship at Starlight! The last few weeks have been quite busy. I've worked my normal 8 hr days-40 hr weeks and time has surely flown by.

Honestly, there is not much change to Starlight except that I am learning more and more by the week. There is a LOT of behind-the-scenes work that sometimes gets pushed under the rug, so to speak. Contacting businesses for donations could take one phone call, or twenty. While I haven't done this part of the job, I've heard the stories or seen different people talking on the phone to the same person. On my end of things, families are VERY excited to take part in many, if not all, of the events! Some of the more popular ones are Sporting events like the White Sox, Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Red Stars (soccer!!). Also the cruise is probably a top event on families wish list. With it less than a month away now, I am getting reservations galore! One day I went into work and there were 30 something voice messages waiting for me! It took me several hours to get through all of them, write down the information, transfer it to the reservation list, and call some families back to confirm numbers or assure them that there call went through. It's kind of fun now though. I get to talk on the phone with families, and then see them later at events. I like the connection of knowing who I am talking to. It's really neat! :)

Some other highlights: I got to take part in my first Great Escape (event for Starlight kids) last Monday (15th). It was decorating Versace (brand name) purses/bags with fabric markers. Although I didn't decorate one, I got to see the creativity of the kids with the theme "friendship". They "practiced" their art on a normal tote bag, and were able to take that one home and then did their finished product on the versace bag that will be sent back to them for a judging contest and also to be put in their stores and possible runway shows!! Seeing the joy on the kids faces, was awe-inspiring... especially when the idea of getting their artwork displayed for others to see. It made them really focus on what they designed and make it their best!

I had the opportunity to eat lunch with a high school friend last week who now lives here in Chicago with his wife. It was nice catching up and seeing where our lives are headed. Connecting with friends and family has been one of the greatest things for me!

I went to Flint the weekend of June 12-15, to be with James' familiy for a graduation party of Jenny, his sister. The next weekend, June 19-21, I went home to Blissfield to see MY family and friends!! Besides a little delay on the Amtrak Friday night, getting home at 2:30 am instead of midnight, I had a really fun time catching up with friends and seeing my family again. Unfortunately, unless there is another time that works, I will not be seeing them until I complete my internship, but time will fly, I am sure.
For now, I am learning to enjoy Chicago and the sights I get to see everyday as I walk around.

If you have any questions, please let me know!

Until next time... :-D

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Another few days have passed since my last blog!

I wanted to speak to the adjustments I've had to make since I moved to Chicago. I don't think I would have adjusted as well as I have without my family and friends encouragement and support. I've forced myself to explore more, with proding by my mom and friends. I communicate with my boyfriend daily, who encourages me when I get discouraged or am having a hard time with a certain adjustment. Without anyone here (family and friends), except my amazing friend Stephanie, who is also interning in Chicago, I have had to adjust physically on my own but fortunately through prayers and encouragement of support, I have been able to adjust spiritually, mentally and semi-emotionally with the help of others. Without physically seeing my family and friends, I have been more motivated to call or email friends and family so that they are too included in my life, during this difficult (but still exciting!) adjustment. Thank you one and all!!

Some of the things I've done so far:
-Shop in stores down State Street (a lively place on the weekends)
-Shop at Target, Aldi and Costco with my host family
-Walk down to the "beach" (Lake MI) and feel the sand beneath my feet
-Walk through Millenium Park with my parents Memorial Day weekend
-Walk home from work a few different routes and "see the sights" from the Loop to the Gold Coast/Old Town area where I am staying
-Attended a Fundrasing event through Starlight called Gala. It was a very nice black and white tie event and I really enjoyed volunteering for that!

I know, these are not as exciting for me being here almost a month but I will get to the museums and other free stuff... I have been offered to be escorted by a high school friend who now lives here. Also with upcoming Starlight events for hospitalized kids, I will be taking part in those things! There is still time, I just have to take advantage of it.

Continue to pray for me as I am still finding my way and adjusting to the big "Windy City"

Thank you everyone for your support, whether with prayers, words or reading my blog. Just knowing you are there (mostly in Michigan) brings me comfort and of course, brings a smile to my face. :)

I'll keep you posted!