For business and social science instructor Linda Saarela, giving back to the community means more than just idly discussing how to become an effective and successful leader.
Saarela wants students to be able to use functions of management outside of the classroom. By taking a hands-on approach to help those in need, Saarela’s students are gaining and applying their knowledge of leadership.
“Part of the reason I decided to reorient my method of teaching was partly because of the price of textbooks,” Saarela said. “Though, it’s mainly to encourage students to not only have the knowledge but to be able to apply their skills effectively. It made sense to structure a class project that would allow them to use their management and leadership skills.”
Saarela students are providing children, families and adults with necessary provisions and clothing. The class group known as Project CHAMBA, named after the first names its group members, goal is to bring the community together and assist the homeless with their hunger problem. Through Project CHAMBA the homeless are offered packed lunches.
“We want to bring more people into our group,” CHAMBA group member Hannah Canon said. “We created a goal to encourage people to join our group and as a result more food would be donated.”
MBK, like Project CHAMBA, was titled after the first names of all the group members. Their mission is to make a positive impact on a charity of the group’s choice. The students’ purpose is to have a successful benefit concert whereby the proceeds will go towards the non-profit organization of their choosing.
Suits for Success works directly with local business leaders and organizations in order to provide business attire to people who are seeking employment. Project member Lemmell Brown shared why Suits for Success is important in helping improve the United States’ current job crisis.
“Our group is fulfilling a need not just in the community but across the nation,” Brown said. “Our group provides people with suits so they can have the necessary and proper business attire for an interview.”
Project Have Hope collects and donates the necessities to foster children who have been through dramatic life experiences. Currently, the group plans on giving the donations to three non-profit organizations which are The Tree House, Lenny’s Attic and the St. Francis House. Project member Stephanie Anderson discussed what can be donated to foster children in need.
“Project Have Hope accepts anything from shoes to infant clothing wear,” Anderson said. “Our group collects all different size and shapes of clothing ranging from infancy to 18-year-olds.”
Project The Achievers involves group members going to the Burien Baptist Church, making sure the church doesn’t deny assistance to anyone in need as well as raising donations of food themselves. Their plan for this week long food drive is to set up a donation boxes in different locations across the community, along with posting flyers, to spread the word and have more people contribute to the project.
Project Four’s Company is running a silent auction in order to help those who want to further their education but are unable to do so themselves. So far, the project has received numerous donations with many small businesses aiding Four’s Company in their mission.
“It is better that we are taking a hands-on approach to dealing with these issues,” Project Four’s Company member Eric McCall said. “Professor Saarela could have had us all sitting around discussing hypothetically about what could be done to improve the community. Instead, we have the opportunity to actually help those in need, not only making ourselves known in the community but improving our leadership skills as well.”
Project Pitter Patter mission is to not only using members’ management and leadership skills but also assisting families in need. Through collaboration with the community and their personal efforts, Project Pitter Patter provides families gently used footwear for their children.
Many of Saarela’s principles of management students said her method of teaching is not only the most effective but also the most fulfilling way to help out their community and improve their leadership skills. Saarela stresses the importance of not only what it means to be a good leader but what it means to selflessly offer the time and energy for a good cause.
“Each class has course outcomes that need to be met,” said Saarela. “The main focus of this course is not just having knowledge, but having skills that can be used in any voluntary, workplace or personal endeavor.”
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