Blinn College-Brenham students volunteer at Brenham State Supported Living Center

Thirteen Blinn communication students give back by reading to residents

May 6, 2019

Blinn College-Brenham Campus speech students recently volunteered to read to residents at the Brenham State Supported Living Center (SSLC) as part of a class project.

“This is such a positive and rewarding experience and is a win-win for the students, residents, Blinn College and the Brenham SSLC,” Professor Tracy Matthies said. “Several of my students want to keep volunteering even though their volunteer hours are finished.”

After completing the volunteer requirement, each student wrote a reflection paper, presented an in-class reflection speech, and completed an evaluation handout. The papers included students’ reflections on their experiences and applications of classroom concepts.

“I really enjoyed being a part of this project because I wanted to give back to the community and do something for others,” student Christopher Galaviz said. “The project strengthened our communication skills because in some cases we had to communicate with the residents in different ways, such as through a smile, your eyes, and sign language. There are more ways to communicate with others than verbally and this experience helped us have a better understanding of the things Mrs. Matthies was  teaching us in the classroom.”

“I wanted to participate in order to help the community and because my nephew has autism, so this volunteer opportunity was very important to me,” said student Mauline Swain. “It was a great experience and I loved seeing how the residents reacted when we read to them.  They couldn’t always express their appreciation, but showed us through their actions, which was really rewarding.”

The course was part of Blinn’s Service Learning Program, which combines community service with classroom instruction or student club activities. Service Learning courses involve students in activities that address local needs while developing their academic or professional skills and commitment to their community. 

“This project is evidence that simple face-to-face communication and interaction are not lost in our busy, digital age,” Matthies said. “Taking time to care about another person, to travel five minutes to Brenham SSLC, and talk with or read to the residents is spreading kindness. I am certain that the Blinn students will carry this experience with them throughout their lives.”

“This was a fantastic experience for the residents and students,” said Kristie Wensel, Community Relations Director at Brenham SSLC. “The residents really liked being read to and the overall interaction with the students. Volunteering here is very fulfilling for both the residents and the volunteers.”

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