Participant Story: Joel Norman

 

“My nonprofit partnership has been the most valuable part because it has taught me about how I best function in the workplace and about what kinds of people and what styles of work I like to do.” – Joel Norman

 

Grand Rapids native Joel Norman attended Calvin College, where he attained a Philosophy major and Biochemistry minor. While in school, he was involved as choir president with a capella, played on the Ultimate Frisbee team, and served with the Campus Ministries. He also worked as a scholars program volunteer at the library, tutoring and mentoring elementary school kids. Outside of school, Joel interned with North Avenue Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, leading youth retreats and facilitating young adult activities through the church. His other community service experiences include volunteering with the YMCA as a food service worker and acting as a personal care assistant to Clark at Home‘s elderly residents. In his free time, Joel likes to play frisbee, read the news, and run. He is serving at Manchester Academic Charter School.

Ivy Keen: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Joel Norman: My nonprofit partnership has been the most valuable part because it has taught me about how I best function in the workplace and about what kinds of people and what styles of work I like to do.

Ivy: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Joel: In my nonprofit partnership, I serve as a teacher’s aid at a local charter school. I assist the teacher with grading, and I am another adult presence in the classroom. I also help with re-focusing children who are in need of a little extra help.

I enjoy working with second graders. I like learning their names, watching them, being with them regularly, and working towards building long-term relationships with them.

Ivy: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Joel: PULSE has put me in the middle of a neighborhood in ways I haven’t cared about before. Now I’m looking at my neighbors and looking at where I live as a person who has a moral conviction to contribute to the community at large. Because of this realization, I have found a sense of purpose in participating and volunteering with the local Northside citizens council.

Ivy: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Joel: I had a nice Sunday morning where I walked down to my church, Allegheny Center Alliance. From there, I took a long walk to a restaurant on 6th Street, got a falafel sandwich, and then caught the bus back.  No one was out in the streets. It was peaceful, and it was altogether quite boring.  But, it was calm and nice. It was a great way to just “be” in the city, and it is something you only do once you’ve lived in a place for a while.

Ivy: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Joel: I love when we make tofu stir-fry because I get to chop all of the vegetables (which I enjoy doing!). Falafel is also a close second!

Story by PULSE Participant Ivy Keen.

Read more Participant Stories from Fellows about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Participant Story: Dave Harris

 

“It was a surprise to live in a house with people from so many different backgrounds. It is comforting to know that there are people who care for each other and can support me in my PULSE experience. ” – Dave Harris

 

A graduate of Yale University, Dave Harris studied theater with a concentration in Playwriting and African American Performance. Four of his plays were produced during his time at Yale; White History was a UMASS Play Lab Finalist, The Promised Land was presented by Yale School of Drama actors at the Annual Festival of New Work, and  Exception to the Rule won the 2015 Yale Playwrights Festival. In addition to his playwriting, Dave was the president of WORD, Yale’s Slam Poetry Team, and was an Artist in Residence at New Haven Arts & Humanities Co-op from 2014 to 2015. He became the youngest winner of the Rustbelt National Poetry Slam in 2015. He enjoys chocolate chip cookies, dancing salsa and blues, and writing anything and everything. He is placed at the Alumni Theater Company.

Kayla Clark: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Dave Harris: The arts community in Pittsburgh has been one of the most welcoming communities I have found in a city, especially as a newcomer. It has allowed me to develop new material in a supportive environment.

Kayla: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Dave: In order for you to do anything you want in the arts world you have to have your own creative control. In some sectors of the art world there are still communities that have not embraced the beauty that comes with including diverse perspectives. So it is hard to find people who want to make the arts more inclusive.

Kayla: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Dave: It was a surprise to live in a house with people from so many different backgrounds. It is comforting to know that there are people who care for each other and can support me in my PULSE experience. It has been an incredible experience interacting with people I can bond and relate to.

Kayla: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Dave: My favorite family meal has been Damilola’s chicken pot pie. It was a comfort food classic that was seasoned and tasted great.

Kayla: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Dave: The best part is the stability that comes with not having to worry about rent and other finances. This allows me to get involved in activities where I can develop and create art. It allows me to get involved within the Pittsburgh community without having to focus on doing things for money.  I can get involved in activities because I want to and not because I have to.

Story by PULSE Participant Kayla Clark.

Read more Participant Stories from Fellows about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Participant Story: Lucas Driediger

 

“I’ve enjoyed the connection to different nonprofits and networks throughout Pittsburgh, the opportunity to learn about a variety of fields and interest areas through the other PULSE fellows.” – Lucas Driediger

 

Lucas Driediger comes to Pittsburgh by way of Hamilton, Ontario. Lucas received his degree in Peace-building and Development from Eastern Mennonite University. He served as an assistant with L’Arche Hamilton and did his practicum with Creciendo Juntos, a community development NGO in Bogotá, Colombia. In his downtime, he enjoys reading, writing songs, and playing soccer. He is serving at the Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization.

Damilola Onakomaiya: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Lucas Driediger: I’ve enjoyed the connection to different nonprofits and networks throughout Pittsburgh, the opportunity to learn about a variety of fields and interest areas through the other PULSE fellows. I have also liked how there is almost always something to do when you are a part of a group this large.

Damilola: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Lucas: I enjoy having the leeway to work on some of my own projects in the community development field and the way that my nonprofit is based in community engagement and involvement. I love how my nonprofit partnership,  the Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization, is new and forming an identity within the revitalization efforts of the town.

Damilola: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Lucas: PULSE has inspired me to love my housemates as people. It has also got me interested in real estate and its complexities.

Damilola: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Lucas: I have the spirit of an adventurer and I want to experience as much of life as possible by traveling to new cities.

Damilola: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Lucas: I like to make a one-skillet sweet potato hash with rice and chorizo sausage and red pepper.

Story by PULSE Participant Damilola Onakomaiya.

Read more Participant Stories from Fellows about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Participant Story: Chris Steiner

 

“As someone who comes from a fairly small town in rural Ohio, living in a community has made moving to a city a much more comfortable and enjoyable experience.” – Chris Steiner

 

Originally from Kidron, Ohio, Chris Steiner graduated from Eastern Mennonite University in 2016 with a degree in Biochemistry. He was involved in the school’s Community Adviser program, in which he held a leadership position in his underclassmen dorm, planning weekly activities and facilitating community among residents. He also participated in the Middle East Cross Cultural study abroad program, where he studied the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, among other issues. His hobbies include all forms of athletic competition, hiking, and biking. He is serving at East End Cooperative Ministry.

Brigid O’Hara: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Chris Steiner: I would say that communal living has been the most valuable part of PULSE so far. Living with a bunch of people that have similar goals and aspirations helps you to individually shape a goal of your own and be inspired to work toward it.

Brigid: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Chris: As someone who comes from a fairly small town in rural Ohio, living in a community has made moving to a city a much more comfortable and enjoyable experience. Another positive aspect of living in a community is the family meals that we share together. Our family meals are good ways to get together, enjoy each others company, and to de-stress at the end of the day.

Brigid: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Chris: My go-to meal is always Thai green curry. My roommate in college used to make it all the time and I loved not only the taste of it but its simplicity.  I thought I would bring it to my PULSE community and so far it has been a crowd pleaser!

Brigid: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Chris: I definitely was surprised at how many events and ways to stay busy there are here, not only on the weekends but also during the work week!

Brigid: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Chris: I have been to a couple really cool concerts such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Brass Spectacular, and attended a Hilary Clinton rally at a local high school.

Story by PULSE Participant Brigid O’Hara.

Read more Participant Stories from Fellows about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Participant Story: Jimson Mathew

 

“I think the best part about living in community is probably coming home after work and being surrounded with people that I enjoy living with, and being able to talk about my day and interact with people outside of work..” – Jimson Mathew

 

Jimson Mathew of Abu Dhabi, UAE received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Saint Joseph’s University. He served as a tutor at the school’s Learning Resource Center and did mathematical research in the Summer Scholars Program. His service experience includes involvement with The Philadelphia Project, where he assisted with home repair, and his leadership of the Ignite Freshman Retreat for Saint Joseph’s. Jimson has also been involved with faith communities in his volunteering with Citylight Church and as a leader of the DTP Christian Fellowship, where he facilitated weekly meetings with 65 students to promote their spiritual development. THis hobbies include journaling, reading, and chirography. He is serving at Homewood Children’s Village.

Shruti Revankar: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Jimson Mathew: The best part of the PULSE experience is its emphasis on humility, openness, and learning. Some of my best experiences involves talking with the PULSE staff. Hearing about their lives and experiences when they were my age or hearing them answer the questions I have with utmost openness and honesty is something that is very much counter-cultural. It is easy to seclude oneself to one’s own world and merely exchange pleasantries with another person. The staff at PULSE are very open about answering poignant questions. They consider you to be family. Seeing that level of openness and honesty has created some of my best experiences in PULSE.

Shruti: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Jimson: I am learning the importance of self-care in my life. Often times when I don’t get enough sleep or exercise, I notice that I am feeling down. As someone who is quite accustomed with being melancholy, not having sleep or exercise can exacerbate my mood. I am thankful that PULSE had a seminar on self-care with Val–I liked how she pointed at different aspects of self-care. It helped me a lot. Getting enough sleep is something that is required for me.

Shruti: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Jimson: I enjoy the folks at my nonprofit partnership, Homewood Children’s Village (HCV), the most. These are individuals who are very passionate about seeing their community revitalized. When they are given a task, they don’t merely see it as a job to be completed…they go one step further and see who is impacted by the work. They are very people-centric. I am in awe of how selfless my co-workers are. They are humble and give me advice on what I can improve on which I appreciate. I love the “learning culture” that we have at HCV. Also, they seek to know what you’re interested in and how you can use the talents that you possess to impact the community around you. Our CEO grew up in Homewood and his passion for revitalizing the community is a genuine one-honestly that permeates through the entire organization. That energy of wanting to enact change is something I really appreciate.

Shruti: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Jimson: The history of Pittsburgh with the steel mill industry surprised me. I didn’t realize how rich a history it possessed. When we went to visit Carrie Furnace, I appreciated seeing the history behind everything–how the past was still preserved in the present. In addition to that, the other thing that surprised me, was the hope that people have for Pittsburgh. People are very much galvanized to see Pittsburgh grow. Seeing the heart of individuals who want Pittsburgh to transform was amazing. I hadn’t thought of that before until I saw the passion folks had for this city. I am in awe of the people at my nonprofit partnership because of how much they care for their community. There are those who have seen Homewood in its heyday and they have that passion to restore Homewood to its former glory. Seeing that passion and that fervor is at once inspiring and surprising to me.

Shruti: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Jimson: I don’t want it to seem like I have a favorite cook or a favorite recipe that trumps all other recipes. So, I’m not exactly sure? To err on the side of caution, I think I would say…I’m not sure. ALL of the food we have and wil have has been wonderful. There isn’t one recipe that rules them all. Haha.

Story by PULSE Participant Shruti Revankar.

Read more Participant Stories from Fellows about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

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