#1StudentNWI: Washington Township Helps Out Around Valpo

#1StudentNWI: Washington Township Helps Out Around Valpo

Keep Calm and Pedal On: Valparaiso Night Bike Ride

Ready? Set. Pedal! This past Saturday, August 25th, the Valparaiso Parks Department held their 8th annual Valpo Night Ride. The Valparaiso Parks Department had an overwhelming amount of help from volunteers affiliated with the Washington Township Key Club. People of all ages came to take part in the community bike ride on Saturday. Whether the riders were wobbly toddlers on tricycles, teenagers hanging out after a week back at school, a dynamic duo on a tandem, or experienced cyclists, everyone who participated in this event had a wheelie good time.

Volunteers began arriving at the event around 7:00 in the evening. Volunteers packed goodie bags for all the bikers, set up the course, registered the bikers as they started to arrive, and directed traffic. Bikers began to arrive at about 8:30 pm to get their bikes checked, get registered, and ready to go! At 10:00 pm the bikers, a total of about 300, were off! All riders started at the Butterfield Family Pavilion where they had a police escort around Valparaiso. After dodging the rain for fifteen miles and stopping at the Urschel pavilion for snacks, the night ended at the Butterfield Pavilion around 12:30am where more food and a DJ awaited their arrival. It was a night filled with fun and memories!

Packing for a Purpose: Opportunity Enterprises Pack-a-thon

Six hours, 500 volunteers, one mega impact. Each year, Opportunity Enterprises holds a community event in their Outsource building called the Pack-a-Thon. Volunteers come from all the surrounding communities to prepare backpacks for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Anyone is eligible to come help pack bags, as long as they are eight and up!

Starting at 7:30 in the morning, volunteers file into the building where donuts, coffee, and t-shirts are provided. At 8:00 volunteers are instructed on what to do and find their way inside to their stations. Shortly after, the DJ turns the music up and the volunteers sing, dance, and pack 50,000 backpacks full of travel size goodies, flyers, magazines, and coupon booklets. Upon packing for a few hours, the volunteers rotate for lunch where pizza is provided, then head back to packing! After a long few hours, the music may stop, but the cheers roar as the last bag is packed and the day is completed!

Medicine in the Making: Stephanie Hartman

It was at a young age that Ms. Stephanie Hartman recalls discovering her calling, passion, and aspiration for being in the medical field as an adult.

When most elementary school kids were explaining to their teacher they wanted to be an astronaut, movie star, or professional ice cream taster, Hartman became fascinated by the way of medicine. Hartman was captivated by the fact that one could visit a doctor's office when feeling under the weather and after being prescribed a medication, soon be on the road to recovery. The biology and chemistry that allowed people to create that medicine, as well as the knowledge to prescribe it, mesmirized Hartman.

Upon entering high school, Hartman’s mind was still set on becoming a Physician's Assistant. The spring of Sophomore year, the Washington Township Junior and Sophomore class gathered into the gym for an assembly to talk about the idea of a vocational program. With the idea proposed to the students, many hopped onto the idea of testing out their future career paths. Hartman was all in at the thought of getting into her field as soon as possible. On the first day of vocational, all she had thought about for the past decade was solidified; this was it, this is what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Every day of high school, Hartman and countless other students would leave Washington Township after fourth period to go to various stations where they would learn trades, prepare them for college courses, as well as give students hands-on opportunities to try the career of their choice. Hartman recollects that she would always look forward to attending vocational each and every day.

One of Hartman's favorite opportunities during the program was attending clinical rotations. While in the first year of her Emergency Medical Service vocational program, Hartman shadowed in the Emergency Care Center at Saint Mary’s in Hobart where she did two eight hour shifts. Hartman was in charge of hooking patients up to machines, completing CPR, taking EKGs, as well as transporting patients to their hospital room. Hartman also did two ambulance shadows, one at the Hobart fire station as well as a shadow day with Superior. Working with Superior allowed Hartman to view all aspects of the job; although daunting, she has continued to pursue her passion for the medical field.

Hartman would recommend vocational to any high school student; she believes it is the perfect opportunity for students to test out a career path they are interested in pursuing in the near future. If a student has doubts now about the career they would like to pursue, going to vocational every day for a year allows a student to realize if that is the career path for them.

One Foot in Front of the Other: James Smith

Jim Smith met his daughter at the bus stop one spring afternoon. As she clambered down the bus steps she portrayed a distressed look on her face. As Smith asked his daughter what was wrong she answered with, “Dad, you're right. People do suck.”

That statement hurt Smith and allowed him to see what his kids were learning from him. With that, he decided to set off on an adventure to prove them that he was wrong. Smith left his job, house, and kids behind to travel by foot across the country.

Leaving the house with six dollars in his pocket, Smith is relying on the goodness of people to provide him with a place to sleep, food, and amenities. Smith is sharing his story every step of the way on his website, social media accounts, and with each person he comes across. He hopes to spread the, “The Point the Thumb” logic with anyone who cares to listen; his movement is that instead of blaming others whenever you are distressed, to first point the thumb at yourself and reflect, what was my part in the situation. “Am I to blame before I begin to point fingers at others?”

Smith estimated the project to take about six months, starting from Pennsylvania and ending at the top of Lombard Street in San Francisco. Smith is taking the trip one step at a time doing roughly twenty miles a day. He hopes to travel down route 66, end in Santa Monica, go up the California coast to San Francisco and take a flight home. To follow along on his journey, visit www.pttjourney.com or check him out on Facebook and YouTube!