“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.
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