The following three pieces are part of Honors projects completed in a Business Communication class at Sam Houston State University. The students in this class completed an ACE project (Academic and Community Engagement) where they worked for a client in the community. This project asked the students to research ways that they could promote new programs being offered at the Boys and Girls Club of Walker County. These Honors students were then asked to write a reflection piece that explored the impact this project (and other ACE projects) had on their community partners, and also on them. As I read the reflections, I was struck by the kindness and dedication that my students put into these projects. I am proud to present these students’ work here.
Dr. Danica L. Schieber
Assistant Professor of Business Communication
Sam Houston State University
H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum
The H.E.A.R.TS. Veterans Museum is a staple part of the Huntsville community. The museum is significant because it recognizes veterans who have served our country. The museum recognizes veterans from all military branches and primarily those who are served dating back to the Vietnam War. These veterans provide numerous experiences, wisdom, and advice to young soldiers like me. The museum collects artifacts, showcases exhibits, and hosts events for the Veterans, Sam Houston, and Huntsville community. It was established to commemorate active duty soldiers and current war veterans.
The museum originated as an antique shop highlighting the achievement of a war veteran. The antique shop was owned by Charlotte Oleinik, an active participant in a post-World War II organization. Through its growing attraction, Oleinik, began to showcase her exhibits and transport more displays to locations such as elementary and middle schools, where she could instill the importance of the Armed Forces to adolescents. Military artifacts and old equipment were donated to her exhibit, recognizing Oleinik was impacting the community in a positive light.
Due to the accumulation of multiple items, Oleinik decided to find a stationary location. Oleinik was later assisted by Charles Davis, a former World War II veteran, where he helped showcase her artifacts across the community. Followed by years of success, it became an official museum and open to the community of Huntsville.
I decided to research the H.E.A.R.T.S Museum and a war veteran. My goal and main focal point of this interview was to understand the impact the Museum has had on the community of Huntsville. By interviewing a veteran, I could grasp the true adoration and appreciation they had towards the museum. I also wanted to learn information about a significant event they have been a part of while serving to let their story be heard. Learning how to conduct primary research was my goal.
Primary research is conducting research directly, whether it is through an interview, surveys, or even questionnaires. I learned many ways to conduct primary research though my Business Communication and Honors “Histories” classes. I decided to research a military veteran and museum, because being enlisted myself, I wanted to use this opportunity to gain advice and wisdom from true heroes.
I began formulating questions, based upon the interviewee whom the museum assigned to me. Due to my interviewee being a veteran, I wanted to make sure the questions were appropriate, respectful, and not crossing any boundaries. I had no information on who I was interviewing, so when formulating my questions, I could not be as a specific as I planned.
Knowing I would be interviewing an older gentleman, I also wanted to pay attention to how my questions were being asked and concluded that they needed to be more straightforward, and simple questions. I learned the importance of audience analysis and its significance of how to communicate to others where it was to relay or retrieve information. I wanted to retrieve information from a historical war veteran, so I essentially had to plan my questions, based off of the criteria on my interviewee, being from an older, more traditional generation.
I had privilege and honor to meet with Robert W. Hall, a former Naval engineer, now retired. Hall served in the Vietnam War as a naval engineer and electrician. Upon receiving his high school diploma in 1957, Hall enlisted within the Navy. Hall actually wanted to serve, even with rising political tensions and an unstable economy within the United States. Hall received sound advice from his uncle who also served, which fueled his motivation to protect this country. The greatest thing about joining the Navy was “The ability to see world,” Hall said. Soon into his time in service, a significant event in American history marked his introduction into combat. In 1958, he detailed the death of a Marine, which was the “prelude and countdown to the Vietnam War.” Hall never feared combat, which was significant, because he could have lost his life, “countless times” as he stated.
Once he became a part of the war effort, Hall served within one of two squadrons, where they traveled the South China Seas aboard a crew of 300 members. Hall’s motto being a chemical and electrical engineer, was “Have steam, will travel, have no steam, will not travel.” This quote was particularly interesting, because it exemplifies the significance of trusting the equipment that soldiers have to rely on.
He retired the Navy after seven brief, yet significant years. Hall later became a part of the Corps of Engineers, where he has worked under many branches serving on deployments as an engineer and electrician. Hall has served in numerous, with Iraq and Afghanistan to name a few.
Throughout the interview, much to my dismay, Hall frequently asked me questions, that pertained to my time in service so far. It was interesting, because at times, I felt the interview was mainly driven by him and I was being interviewed. Moreover, because of him being intrigued by brief military time, it felt as if we are having more of a conversation, rather than conducting an interview. He allowed me to share my experiences within the Army and related it to the Navy, which led us to have many similar experiences.
Hall now resides in Huntsville, Texas where he can be close to the museum, once again implementing its impact on the community and just close enough to the large Houston metropolitan area.
Hall is now an active member and part time employee at the Veterans Hearts Museum, located in Huntsville, Texas. He enjoys being an active participant, because it is “something we can do to help military.” Veterans who still involved in are significant to those beginning their service, such as I. Hall repeatedly said he would do it again and left some advice to adhere. Noting that “Times are changing,” Hall detailed the importance of brotherhood and its camaraderie. I agreed, that It is very essential to have teamwork and unity in any setting, especially within a war.
I really enjoyed this interview, because Hall illuminated a kindred spirit towards me, the museum, and the military. His character and patriotism exemplified what it means to be a veteran, which is to never forget your contribution to protecting this country and utilizing that knowledge for the betterment of today’s generation, such as myself. I believe the interview went successful and I really enjoyed my time there.
Overall, not only did I learn how to conduct an interview, but I learned the importance of teamwork. I treasure the advice and history Hall gave me, because I will soon be in role one day, where I hope to implement his remarkable character traits.
All images were taken by Michael Way
All the Good the SAAFE House does for Huntsville
Since attending Sam Houston State University in 2017, I have noticed many organizations actively involved in the Huntsville community. One in particular is a non-profit organization known as the SAAFE House. The SAAFE House, which stands for sexual assault and abuse free environment, is a shelter that allows victims of domestic violence to get back on their feet through the different services that they offer. I recently had the opportunity to interview with the volunteer coordinator at the SAAFE House, Kathryn Hays, to gain more information on the services they offer victims, how volunteers for the SAAFE House help them provide these services to victims, and was not only shown how their contributions are positively impacting the Huntsville community, but have also been fortunate enough to see it first hand through actively being involved in my sorority, Alpha Chi Omega.
As stated above, Kathryn Hays is the volunteer coordinator for the SAAFE House here in Huntsville, Texas. She explained that the services offered for victims at the SAAFE House include the basic living necessities such as food, water, clothing, a safe shelter, face to face crisis assistance, legal advocacy along with individual and group advocacy, referrals, and most importantly, different skills and resources to help them live an abuse free life. Hays also went on to explain that since the SAAFE House is a non-profit organization, in order for them to continue to offer these services for victims, they rely heavily on volunteers for funding and to help them carry out some of these services.
The volunteer process for the SAAFE House is lengthy, but is necessary because the information of victims is confidential and this process is put in place to ensure that these victims are kept confidential for their own safety. The process includes the application, interview, references, background check, and orientation. Once these five things have been completed, then an individual can begin their volunteer work at the SAAFE House through either their support services, clerical work, the resale shop, or through direct services. The support services at the SAAFE House includes volunteers organizing their pantry and cleaning/ arranging the play therapy room and other rooms where victims may enter. The clerical work includes volunteers helping administrators file, answer phones, and handle finances and personal records of victims. The resale shop includes volunteers selling different items such as clothes, shoes, toys, living room decor, kitchen utensils, and much more. Lastly, the direct services is a bit more complex because it requires a 40 hour training plus the orientation, whereas the support services, clerical work, and resale shop only require the orientation. The reason for this is because volunteers for this service work directly with the victims. Volunteers for the direct services can be used as forms of transportation for other people, taking care of children while they or their guardians are in sessions, and being advocates for the victims. An example of a volunteer being an advocate for the victims would be a medical support advocate where they meet clients at the ER if they have been sexually assaulted and essentially are their voice and help them understand the system when they may not know. All of these services offered through the SAAFE House are extremely important for the victims, and in order for them to continue to be offered, volunteers truly are needed to allow the SAAFE House to continue to operate.
The SAAFE House is positively impacting the Huntsville Community in more ways than one, but the number one way that they are making a difference in Huntsville is through how much awareness they have brought towards domestic violence that has ultimately allowed other individuals and organizations to do the same. I have gotten to see this impact first hand through my sorority hosting events for the Huntsville community to come out and make donations pertaining to toiletries, non-perishable items, clothing, etc. for the SAAFE House, and to help raise money for them as well. I also got to see this impact last year through being invited to attend the mayor of Huntstville’s proclamation declaring the month of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Without the SAAFE House continuously advocating, educating, and providing services/ resources for victims, there would not be such an outpour of community support from other offices and organizations such as Alpha Chi Omega and the Mayor’s office. Since the SAAFE House is persistent in helping victims of domestic violence, it allows others in the Huntsville community to see all the good that they are doing and only leads to them wanting to help as well. Ultimately, with the volunteers and other organizations that help out with funding for the SAAFE House, they are helping them educate the public and shed light on the dark subject that is domestic violence. Through seeing and hearing about the community effort towards the SAAFE House, this will hopefully allow more victims to feel comfortable enough to come forward and seek the support that they deserve and need.
The SAAFE House does so much good for not only the Huntsville community, but especially for the women and families surrounding Huntsville that may need extra help and resources to leave the abusive relationship that they are in. They are continuously working to better their services and facilities to provide these victims with the best experiences possible. Through their volunteers and community support, they are able to make things happen and give everything back to these victims that have already lost so much.
Boys and Girls Club Project Review
While working with the Boys and Girls Club of Walker County, my team’s objective was to find how we could raise and retain the attendance of the free adult education classes. As my team looked over the services provided by the Boys and Girls Club, we saw how useful these free adult education classes could be to the community. We listened to the directors talk about the adult education classes, and their biggest concern was that the classes were not being filled to the capacity that their funding provided for. My team and I knew we wanted to make these classes grow tremendously in attendance, so the Texas Workforce Commission, who provided the funds for these classes, did not feel the need to cut funding from this program. Although some of our recommendations are not possible at the moment, such as transportation options and childcare, we still included them in our report to let the Club know these methods should be something to work on with help from other public services.
When researching Walker County, we found through American Fact finder that roughly 16.4% of Walker County did not have a high school level education. Knowing this we knew these classes were very important to help those few who do not have a high school degree and help them raise their income levels. We believe with our work that we will increase class sizes at the Boys and Girls Club of Walker County by roughly 40%, increasing the class sizes by about 42 people. First, we created a visual aid to promote these classes; this visual aid is eye catching with popping colors to catch the attention of a passerby. It also includes all of the basic information of the classes, so that the reader can understand everything without having to search further (which typically does not happen in busy, adult lives). Next, we discussed options that the Club can include in their program to generate will and drive among the students. These options include encouraging the teachers get greater detail about the students’ lives and using those details to build relationships and to set personal goals with the students’ help. Setting these goals will help the teacher keep each student accountable and motivate them to reach each goal within a timeline they have set for themselves. Physically writing these goals down will help the students see what they have to do in order to reach the end goal of graduation, promotions, or passing the citizenship test.
Although I have been on several teams, I do not prefer teams in a classroom setting due to the grading scale that is involved. Usually in a classroom team there is one or two people that put in ninety percent of the work, and the other ten is only done with other members when being forced to spend time on the project in class. I was lucky enough to have teammates who felt as passionate about this research project as much as I did. I believe that this also helps with the final outcome of any project due to the energy of the team being focused on the outcome of the project, rather than spending time on being upset at their team members.
Helping the community has always been a regular part of my life. Community service has been required of me from a young age, and I have even used my dancing background to entertain different crowds, such as nursing home residents, as a service of goodwill. When learning further details about the client we would be working with, I was joyful that our research would be put to use in the coming years instead of going to the desk of a teacher and receiving a grade to end the project. My team and I felt a greater connection with this project because of these same reasons and made us put more effort into the project to actually think outside of the box for the best answers. Knowing that what we were doing would physically help the community of Walker County and the surrounding areas made us want to do better for the people who would better their lives through these educational classes. Personally, this project meant a lot to me because I know how many people struggle from not being able to take care of themselves or their families financially, and how a simple high school degree, trade certificate, or citizenship card may change their entire life. Overall, I believe this project should happen in many more classes at SHSU, and I believe that this project shows the many participants the reasons why we are learning certain things in our classes.