Alumni Story: Sarah (Spicuzza) Davelaar


img_3737“The program made me realize the importance of community. Since my PULSE year ended, I have moved to new places where I haven’t known anyone (a few times). Building a community and finding one where I am has done wonders for me.“ -Sarah Davelaar ’11-’12 Alumnus

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah (Spicuzza) Davelaar  is a 20011-12 PULSE alumnus. In this interview, we discuss taking a chance, developing community, being stretched and rediscovering your city.

What about the PULSE program was attractive to you?

I had a hard time deciding what to do and where to go upon graduation from college. PULSE reflected many ideals that I felt I needed, and so it became the answer. It was the perfect combination of gap year, community, and nonprofit experience.

What was the best part of your PULSE experience?

The best part of my PULSE experience was what I learned. PULSE itself provided excellent seminars that introduced me to topics or other activities that I wouldn’t have stumbled upon myself. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city on – one I grew up near but didn’t dive into yet – Wednesday afternoons with the other PULSErs. My nonprofit partnership, Serving Leaders (now Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation), stretched me personally and professionally. It was quite an experience to work with John Stahl-Wert, the founder of PULSE. And finally, my housemates were diverse and close. We constantly learned from each other in our community.

What kind of work do you do now?

I work as Content Strategist for The Signal Center for Health Innovation, under the University of Iowa Health Ventures. It’s a perfect combination of strategy and creativity for me. Plus, I get to tell the story of human impact. Our work deals mostly in digital health innovation and digital health (telehealth) which is a really exciting industry in a rural state.

How did PULSE prepare you for what you are doing now?

It’s so hard to nail down how PULSE prepared me for what I do now – there are many things! The program made me realize the importance of community. Since my PULSE year ended, I have moved to new places where I haven’t known anyone (a few times). Building a community and finding one where I am has done wonders for me. PULSE serves as a reminder to explore my own city. It’s easy to get comfortable or to frequent the same places. Now, I make an effort to try a new place, or a food that I might not like and take a chance!

How have you stayed connected to PULSE?

Staff always make sure to keep alumni informed, of course! I also follow PULSE on social media and reconnected with my fellow PULSErs (whether they were in my year or not) on a regular basis. The relationships that I’ve gained from this program are incredible.

Story by PULSE.  Read more Alumni Stories.

Alumni Story: Charity Grimes Bauman

12310663_621262453888_1720373392026325356_n“Now that I’ve recently relocated to Chicago and am building a new network here, I realize now even more how much PULSE helped me forge connections and get plugged in. I think because of that experience I’m much more confident now reaching out to make new connections in Chicago.“ -Charity Grimes ’09-’10 Alumnus

Charity Grimes  is a 2009-2010 PULSE alumnus. In this interview, we discuss finding community, developing connections in the nonprofit sector, edible gardens and getting to know Pittsburgh.

What about the PULSE program was attractive to you?

When I graduated from college I knew I wanted to move to a city, and I was interested in service programs. I was attracted to PULSE because I wanted to gain experience in my field while volunteering, and PULSE gave me the chance to look at nonprofit partnerships that would suit my individual interests well, not just plug me into a pre-determined nonprofit partnership. After having great experiences in college with group housing, I was really attracted to the communal living aspect of PULSE. I was excited to explore a city that was brand new to me while having an instant community of folks my age.

What was the best part of your PULSE experience?

The best part of PULSE was probably just getting to know Pittsburgh with my fellow PULSErs. We took advantage of tons of free events and volunteer opportunities. There’s so much going on in the city, and there was always someone interested in going with me to those events.

PULSE also encouraged me to develop my gifts in real ways, and try new things. I had my first experience with a nonprofit board as the PULSE board participant representative. I got to plan and expand the Stanton house vegetable garden. And, I took part in numerous professional development sessions through seminars.

What did the PULSE experience teach you about yourself?

From my nonprofit partnership, I learned that I need a balance of office work and hands on work to be my happiest! I spent a lot of time on a computer that year, and you learn from things you don’t like too. I’ve been lucky to find jobs since that allow me to get my hands dirty from time to time!

How were you impacted by your PULSE experience?

PULSE was a really important year for me in a lot of ways. It was my first year after college “in the real world,” but PULSE was there to ease me in and help me navigate it. PULSE helped me make connections in the city, learn about myself, and try new things. I didn’t necessarily expect to stay in Pittsburgh long term, but looking back after staying for seven years, I give PULSE credit for helping me find community in Pittsburgh and fall in love with the city.

As I continued to work in the nonprofit sector in Pittsburgh, I valued the connections I made during PULSE. I learned about lots of organizations through my housemates’ nonprofit partnerships, seminars, and volunteering. And, with so many alumni still working in the city and nonprofit sector, I have a farther reaching network in Pittsburgh than I imagine I would without PULSE. Now that I’ve recently relocated to Chicago and am building a new network here, I realize now even more how much PULSE helped me forge connections and get plugged in. I think because of that experience I’m much more confident now reaching out to make new connections in Chicago.

 

What kind of work do you do now?

I’m currently working as a Garden Educator with The Kitchen Community in Chicago. TKC installs raised bed vegetable Learning Gardens at schools all over the country, with a goal of increasing knowledge and likability of fresh fruits and vegetables, increasing students’ academic engagement, and building community. My role specifically involves working directly with 30 schools on the north and northwest side of Chicago (other educators work with the other regions of the city), to help them successfully grow and utilize their gardens. I offer support to teachers and garden teams around planning and building garden skills, work with students to plant and harvest their gardens, and help run garden workshops for teachers.

How did PULSE prepare you for what you are doing now?

My nonprofit partnership was at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, where I worked in the adult education department with sustainable landscaping programs. After working in other nonprofits for a few years after PULSE, I ended up back at Phipps to coordinate Homegrown, an edible garden outreach program, which was a perfect fit for my passion around edible gardening and food justice. The connections I made and experience I built during my PULSE year at Phipps opened doors for me to come back later in a different role, which I was so grateful for.

PULSE also just generally prepared me to work in nonprofits. I learned a lot about how they operate, from managing volunteers to fundraising to board meetings. I learned about the importance of being intentional and focused on your mission to make the greatest impact, something that still centers how I think about my role and how I spend my professional time.

How have you stayed connected to PULSE?

While still living in Pittsburgh there were lots of ways I stayed connected- attending PULSEations and alumni events, being a mentor to current PULSErs, and in 2015-2016 I served on the PULSE Alumni Board. A highlight of my board experience was judging the PULSE Pitch– so fun to hear the awesome ideas and passion PULSErs had for improving their new communities!

Now from afar I’m staying connected via the newsletters, will continue to support PULSE financially, and hope to make it back for another PULSEations someday.

Story by PULSE.  Read more Alumni Stories.

Alumni Story: Joey Glick

joey-glick-2“I learned so much about navigating and helping others to navigate the challenges of being young and curious. These lessons help me everyday as I sit with students seeking meaning in their lives.“-Joey Glick ’11-’12 Alumnus

Joey Glick is a 2011-2012 PULSE alumnus. In this interview, we discuss the PULSE program, breaking bread, religious vocation, Pittsburgh and asking big questions with others in community.

What about the PULSE program was attractive to you?

After four years in Colorado, I was excited by the opportunity to return to my home of Pittsburgh. To my surprise, moving home didn’t feel like moving home. It felt like something much more exciting. Pittsburgh had changed dramatically in my time away. Young people were moving into older neighborhoods, gardens and farms were sprouting everywhere, and the arts were taking off. It was wonderful to get to know this new/old place.

What was the best part of your PULSE experience?

Breaking bread with my housemates was so important. Home cooked meals and kind conversation kept me grounded during the challenging transition from a small liberal arts campus to “the real world.”

How were you impacted by your PULSE experience?

PULSE cemented my religious vocation. I entered suspecting that the rabbinate and chaplaincy might be in my future. The experience of living deeply with people of faith made me certain that this was the work for me.

What kind of work do you do now?

I’m a chaplain, mostly working with Jewish students, at a small liberal arts college in New York.

How did PULSE prepare you for what you are doing now?

A lot of my PULSE experience involved figuring out, in partnership with my PULSE-mates, what was important to me in community and life. We asked big questions, made big meals, and had long conversations. I learned so much about navigating and helping others to navigate the challenges of being young and curious. These lessons help me everyday as I sit with students seeking meaning in their lives.

How have you stayed connected to PULSE?

During a recent cross country road trip, I had the pleasure of staying with a number of my housemates. I’ve also enjoyed going back to the Garfield house and seeing the amazing expansion of the farm and community gardening project.

Story by PULSE.  Read more Alumni Stories.

Alumni Story: Anna Wildermuth

anna-wildermuth“PULSE was everything I wanted (and needed) after graduating college. I wasn’t sure what my next steps were going to be after graduation.“-Anna (Pawsey) Wildermuth, ’10-’11 and ’11-’12 Alumnus

Anna (Pawsey) Wildermuth is a 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 PULSE alumnus. In this interview, we discuss the PULSE program, living with 7 women in one house, serving two years as a fellow, lessons learned, and growing with others in community.

What about the PULSE program was attractive to you?

PULSE was everything I wanted (and needed) after graduating college. I wasn’t sure what my next steps were going to be after graduating from college. I knew that I wasn’t ready for a full time job (nor did I even know what my next steps would be).

PULSE was appealing to me for many reasons, but the one that I needed and loved the most was the intentional community. I knew that after college, I NEEDED that community. I was going to be adjusting to what life looked like after school and had no idea what it was like to live life alone. I’m SO thankful for that community.

As a social work major, I knew that I wanted to be working in a grassroots organization. I wanted to be working with community members, neighbors and friends. I loved the idea that I would be placed at a nonprofit that would help me thrive. I landed at Union Project my first year, and PULSE my second year. I was able to learn so much that have influenced my life today.

What was the best part of your PULSE experience?

The best part of my PULSE experience comes in the form of 7 women; Abbi, Alicia, Andrea, Beth, Dill, Laura and Maggie. I was one of the lucky ones to live in a house with 7 other women. They became my lifeline after college; a source of friendship, encouragement and love. Those women have a very special place in my heart. I built life long friendships through PULSE.

What did the PULSE experience teach you about yourself?

The PULSE experience taught me, that life is about building relationships. I was incredibly lucky to have been part of the PULSE experience for two years, being surrounded by people that encouraged, supported and cheered me on. I am successful today, because of them.

PULSE provided me with great coworkers at my nonprofit partnership, housemates that turned into friends , and the opportunity to explore a city that became my home away from home.

How were you impacted by your PULSE experience?

PULSE expanded my worldview. When you are placed in a house with 7 strangers, you learn a lot about life. You learn from one another, debate with one another and support one another. PULSE opened my eyes to new ideas, new traditions, and life lessons. I always felt comfortable asking questions, making mistakes and learning alongside coworkers and friends.

What kind of work do you do now?

I am currently working for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio (in Delaware County) as a Program Coordinator. I work to recruit, enroll and match volunteers to a “mentee” for build life long positive relationships.

How did PULSE prepare you for what you are doing now?

PULSE prepared me to work in nonprofits. It can be an exhausting life at times, but a life filled with passion, joy, and excitement. PULSE gave me the opportunity to try new things, to get my hands dirty, and experience ALL sides of an organization. I was able to wear many different hats while part of the PULSE program and I believe that I’m successful in my work today, because of that opportunity.

How have you stayed connected to PULSE?

In 2012, my husband (Joel, 2011-12 participant) and I moved out of the city. It was one of the most difficult decisions we made. We still value PULSE and the work it continues to do for the city we love.

We support PULSE financially because we believe in mission of PULSE. We know the impact it can have on the city of Pittsburgh as well as in the lives of the participants. We love PULSE.

Story by PULSE.  Read more Alumni Stories.

Alumni Story: Alisha Rinefierd

Alisha Hershberger“I never would have made the connections I did if it hadn’t been for my nonprofit partnership through PULSE. “-Alisha Rinefierd, ’08-’09 Alumnus

Alisha Rinefierd is a 2008-2009 PULSE alumnus.  Before PULSE, she had never been to Pittsburgh and never considered working in the public sector. PULSE gave her the space to explore what she wanted in life.  Turns out, what she wanted was to call Pittsburgh home with her husband and work in public radio.  What she is doing right now.

What about the PULSE program was attractive to you?

I was very pleased that PULSE aims to match your interests with nonprofit organizations. Reading about PULSE’s connections to diverse organizations in the community, I felt confident that my year would be time well-spent.

What was the best part of your PULSE experience?

Definitely hanging out with my housemates and playing games and throwing theme parties.

What did the PULSE experience teach you about yourself?

Often, my PULSE housemates had discussions about questioning or challenging the status quo. I heard different viewpoints, different stories. I realized some of the values and beliefs I had accepted had been accepted because I never saw another side to various issues. These discussions helped me refocus the lens through which I saw the world.

How were you impacted by your PULSE experience?

Before PULSE, I had never been to Pittsburgh and I had never considered working in the public sector. It could have been a rough and daunting experience, but the PULSE program gave me a safe space through seminars, service and my nonprofit partnership to explore what I wanted out of life. Turns out, it’s being able to call Pittsburgh home with my husband, and working in public radio!

How did PULSE prepare you for what you are doing now?

My nonprofit partnership was at 91.3fm WYEP. I spent a year doing production work and learned a lot about the format of radio. After my PULSE year, I kept my foot in the door doing various contract jobs in WYEP’s education department while I had another full-time job out of my field. I kept hoping that this was going to lead somewhere, and couldn’t have been happier when I was offered a full-time job after WYEP and fellow radio station, WESA, came together. I never would have made the connections I did if it hadn’t been for my nonprofit partnership through PULSE.

What kind of work do you do now?

I do scheduling work for WYEP and WESA.

Story by PULSE.  Read more Alumni Stories.

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