ViTaL Team Volunteers at Project Homeless Connect

On September 19, 2017, ACC’s ViTaL team joined together with the College Diversity and Inclusivity Project (CDIP) and ACC’s Student Life department to volunteer at Project Homeless Connect, a one-day free resource fair that provides services to the homeless individuals and families in need. In total, 10 ACC students, faculty, and staff volunteered alongside over 800 volunteers from across the city to serve at this event.

Project Homeless Connect volunteers wait to be paired with clients attending Project Homeless Connect.

Project Homeless Connect volunteers wait to be paired with clients attending Project Homeless Connect.

Project Homeless Connect offered an array of services including ID services, housing services, resume workshops, clothing banks, vision check, healthcare, veterans services, childcare, and pet care.

Lunch was provided for anyone who attended this event.

Lunch was provided for anyone who attended this event.

Massages were one of the services for the clients.

Massages were one of the services for the clients.

Many clients applied for a library card at the event.

Many clients applied for a library card at the event.

Here are some of the amazing results from the one day of service:

  • 69 people were hired on the spot
  • 130 people received assistance with their legal questions
  • 145 people created résumés
  • 178 people attended the onsite job fair
  • 180 people received medical screenings, along with HIV, liver function, and diabetes tests, as appropriate
  • 199 pets were vaccinated, spayed, or neutered
  • 255 people received haircuts and 205 received massages
  • 450 people learned about or enrolled in Denver Human Services benefit

Project Homeless Connect served over 1,300 people that day and changed the lives of both the volunteers and those served. Perhaps the most important word in its title is the word “Connect.”

ACC student Olivia Perkovich explains how she felt after serving at the event:

“Project Homeless was an ultimate success! I had a blast being able to help my community by making a difference by creating hygiene bags for all homeless around Denver. It made me feel great to know I could help contribute and it is so awesome to work with a group of people who are all so oriented, helpful and kind to put in an event of this sort together for our community and for the ones who need it most. Nothing feels better then to give back to those in need! This was definitely an event I will remember and I can’t wait to do it again!”

ACC Director of Student Life Dan Balski along with nine other ACC students, faculty and staff volunteered at Project Homeless Connect.

ACC Director of Student Life Dan Balski along with nine other ACC students, faculty and staff volunteered at Project Homeless Connect.

The blue bear watched over the events.

The blue bear watched over the events.

We hope many more ACC students and entire departments will come join us at this important event next year!

by Josie Mills, Ph.D., ACC English faculty

ACC’s ViTaL Team Trip to Audubon Society at Chatfield

On August 19, 2016, ACC’s ViTaL (Volunteering To Learn) Team set out on an outdoor adventure to help clean up over-grown weeds and dried-up grasses from the Audubon Society of Greater Denver’s Nature Center at Chatfield State Park, about 10 miles away.

Led by Audubon’s Community Outreach Coordinator Kate Hogan, the six ACC faculty and staff–with some of their family members–first learned about the Audubon Society’s mission and its relationship to Chatfield, then performed a couple of hours of light gardening tasks on a warm and sunny Saturday morning.

Audubon Center at Chatfield State Park

Audubon Center at Chatfield State Park has an abundance of wildlife and over 300 bird species that live or visit at various times a year.

Ken Murphy & Dan Hohn removing tree

Math Professor Ken Murphy & Dan Hohn from Fiscal Services remove a dead tree from the gardens.

Diana Hornick landscaping

Communication Faculty & ViTaL leader Diana Hornick at work.

Mardi Mathers landscaping

Nursing Faculty member Mardi Mathers.

Garden Walk at Chatfield State Park.

Garden Walk at Chatfield State Park.

The Team completed their project with a nature hike, discovering toads, snakes, and a beaver lodge.

Kate Hogan pointing out Beaver Lodge

Audubon’s Community Outreach Coordinator Kate Hogan points out a beaver lodge.

Platte River

The Platte River

A nature walk along one of Chatfield's many trails

A nature walk along one of Chatfield’s many trails

Audubon Nature Center Map

Some of the plant life at Chatfield State Park…

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is distinguishable by its red leaves

Hemlock

Hemlock is the poisonous plant presumed to have killed Socrates.

Plants along the Platte River

Plants along the Platte River

Come join ViTaL team for our next outing!

Volunteers pictured from left to right: Mardi Mathers, Jennifer Jones, Ken Murphy, Daniel Hohn, Diana Hornick, Josie Mills, Andrea Mason, Linda Mason

Volunteers pictured from left to right: Mardi Mathers, Jennifer Jones, Ken Murphy, Daniel Hohn, Diana Hornick, Josie Mills, Andrea Mason, Linda Mason

Alumni Spotlight: Oliver Brainerd

ACC Alumnus Oliver Brainerd – From the ACC Faculty and Staff Perspective

by Monica Fuglei, Debra Goldberg, Juliet Hubbell, and Josie Mills

FROM PROFESSOR MONICA FUGLEI

ACC Alumnus Oliver Brainerd

ACC Alumnus Oliver Brainerd

It’s been nearly two years since Oliver Brainerd graduated from ACC, but many of his instructors can still remember him fondly. I think my first encounter with Oliver was in a summer Introduction to Creative Writing class, and he quickly became an active presence on campus, taking a wide variety of ACC classes, working with Phi Theta Kappa, and serving in the Student Success Center as a peer tutor. Oliver may have graduated, but in some ways he’s still around: I assign an article he wrote about writing for my Introduction to Composition students to read. He jokes he’s creating a career in reverse: not famous, yet, but being taught in schools. He is currently shopping his novel and continues to write short fiction as well. Recently, he has begun working on a project called Sobremesa. This will be a multimedia publishing engine that includes writing, podcasts, and even videos. Sobremesa is a Spanish word that, roughly translated, means conversation after dinner, and Oliver envisions this project as a curated space that would allow people to take part in larger conversations about academics, culture, or the world at large as well as sharing new creative writing and essays.

Any instructor or student interested in contributing to Sobremesa is welcome to contact Oliver via email or visit the Sobremesa page.

FROM PROFESSOR JOSIE MILLS

A couple weeks before the semester began in the summer of 2012, I got a call from one Oliver Brainerd very politely introducing himself and telling me he would be a student in my English 121 class. Only a few times in the 25 years I’ve been teaching have I received a call of introduction prior to the semester. I pictured Oliver Brainerd as an older man with little round glasses and a bow tie, an upstanding traditionalist who had a special penchant for writing. Only the last part turned out to be the case. Instead, day one of my class in walked Oliver, a friendly young man with hair down to his waist, in no way a conventional guy except in his love of standard English grammar and good writing. Oliver knew his way around a comma like no one else—we would together debate the merits of a parenthetical comma before certain restrictive and non-restrictive phrases. Oliver had great ideas including a plan to bring poetry to local coffee houses. He was a strong writer, an engaging presenter, and a great student. The following semester, Oliver started tutoring English in our Student Success Center, and I was so glad I could refer students to him by name when they needed a little extra help on a paper. Oliver went on to become a professional writer, and I’m so excited for his success.

FROM DEBRA GOLDBERG, DIRECTOR OF THE STUDENT SUCCESS CENTER

For three years, Oliver Brainerd served as one of my most talented Peer Tutors here in ACC’s Student Success Center. He specialized in composition, literature, communication, philosophy, and business. Oliver was an incredible asset to students as he provided a variety of learning strategies, study techniques, and other resources they needed to be successful in their courses. He is an enthusiastic learner who relishes the challenge of understanding difficult material in order to help others. Oliver made sure students did not just memorize facts, but more importantly, understood the concepts. His incentive to work as a tutor comes from a strong desire to help others see their potential and give them insight into new ways to approach problems in learning and life. His compassionate nature, remarkable creativity, and insightful sense of humor made him an outstanding student and role model to everyone he encountered.

FROM PROFESSOR JULIET HUBBELL

Oliver was in my Brit Lit course, and he always had tremendously fresh and insightful remarks to make about works that were over 200 and 300 years old. His writing reflected this distinct and almost quirky view of classic works, and it made the entire class sit up and take notice of what might otherwise have been a dry or flat text. Even more importantly, Oliver always listened carefully to his classmates’ remarks and would take a few moments to reflect on them and later respond with a thoughtful and expansive comment. A young man with long hair (at least back then) disguising a totally plugged-in intellectual.

ACC’s Volunteering to Learn (ViTaL) Excursion to the Humane Society

ACC’s Volunteering to Learn (ViTaL) team headed out for their first volunteer excursion last Friday, January 15, 2016. A group of four ACC faculty and staff took pet supplies donated by the ACC community and spent the morning volunteering at the Littleton’s Humane Society of the South Platte Valley.

Here we are departing from ACC with all the wonderful pet supplies donated by the ACC community:

ViTaL team outside ACC

Left to right: Meredith Tofield, Josie Mills, Amanda Johnson, Diana Hornick

Erin Liebner of the Humane Society of the South Platte Valley welcomed us, and we took a short visit to the cat room while she arranged our plan for the morning.

White cat on scratching post

Adoptable cat at Human Society

Amanda petting cat

Amanda pets Starvin’ Marvin

black cat

Adoptable cat at the Humane Society

vital-tortie-cat

Another cat for adoption at the Humane Society

Erin then set us up with the task of cleaning out the shed where they store food and supplies for the animals. It was a chilly but sunny morning, and we worked together happily rearranging the bags of food and treats so that the floor was clear, and everything was easy to find.

Before and after photos below

BEFORE:

Food storage

Humane Society food storage before.

DURING:

Amanda and Meredith organizing.

Amanda and Meredith organizing pet food storage.

AFTER:

Humane Society pet food storage after ViTaL team organized it.

Humane Society pet food storage after ViTaL team organized it.

Once we’d finished our work in the shed, we headed back inside where we were rewarded with some time to visit with the dogs.

Dog available for adoption from the Humane Society.

Dog available for adoption from the Humane Society.

Close-up of dog

Another dog available for adoption

Another available dog at the Humane Society

Another available dog at the Humane Society

Another dog ready to find its forever home.

Another dog ready to find its forever home.

We then helped out washing dishes, refilling treat containers, and mopping the floor in the main meeting area.

We loved spending the morning at the Humane Society meeting the wonderful volunteers and visiting the animals who need a home.

Left to right: Meredith Tofield, Diana Hornick, Josie Mills, Amanda Johnson

Left to right: Meredith Tofield, Diana Hornick, Josie Mills, Amanda Johnson

ViTaL welcomes students, faculty, staff, and administrators to join us in serving the community. Many more opportunities will ensue in the coming months. Contact Josie Mills or Diana Hornick for more information.

by Josie Mills, ACC English Department Chair

Alumni Spotlight: Yu Jung Choi

Former ACC Student, Yu Jung Choi

Former ACC Student, Yu Jung Choi

“Fifteen hours of sitting in the flight to USA on May 2008 with blooming ambition, I finally landed with both feet to an unfamiliar place where it was a 16 hour time difference from my homeland…”
–Yu Jung Choi

Former ACC student Yu Jung Choi came to America from Seoul, Korea in May, 2008.
A few months later, she was sitting in my ENG 060 Language Fundamentals class, and I could tell from her first days in class that she was an exceptional writer, student, and individual.

Here is a small sample of Yu’s writing from that first English class she took at ACC:

“Especially in summer a class is humid, and there is rainy smell because summer in Korea has a spell of rainy weather. Whole classes are silent except for the teachers and the light, which is winking. After all classes are done, every student goes back home. A class is empty, and what I do and hear during the day is like a dream. Lights are turned off, and chairs and desks are arranged in a row. The blackboard is clean, and there is no sound. It feels lonely.”

Yu laughs when she looks at this paragraph and says that at this point, she barely knew how to describe things in English. To me, Yu’s early writing in English already showed signs of her strong powers of observation and her skill at conveying a unique perspective.

Yu took ENG 060, ENG 090, ENG 121, and ENG 122 at ACC along with a wealth of biology and chemistry classes.  Her chemistry professor Kim Stasiewicz remembers Yu as an exceptionally intelligent and hard-working student.  Stasiewicz comments, “Yu was so curious about the material she studied, and it was a delight to have her in class.”

Yu transferred to University of Colorado at Denver in 2012 where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. She now works in a lab at the University of Colorado at Denver with Dr. Marino Resendiz.

I tried to convince Yu to become a writer because of her command of English and her poetic spirt, and she does hope to write in the future and has even talked of doing a translation into English of the  modern poetry of Korean poet Han, Yong-Un.
Yu is now a published author in the field of chemistry: her article, co-written with Dr. Resendiz, “Biophysical Properties and Thermal Stability Oligonucleotides of RNA Containing 7, 8-dihydro-8 hydroxyadenosine” was published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Yu hopes to go to medical school and also eventually to earn a Ph.D. in medicine. She hopes to work in a hospital laboratory this year and has previously volunteered at Swedish Medical Center serving as a comfort to patients and their families and helping the medical technician and the nurses.

Eight years after she first set foot on American soil, Yu Jung Choi has made many of her ambitions a reality. She has earned a Bachelor of Science degree from a great institution and been able to work in the field of her dreams. She has also found many friends, warmth, and love in our country. I’m glad to have been one of Yu’s first teachers, and I’m inspired by her achievements. I wish her success and love!