Earlier this summer, members from the Instructional Technology team devoted their time with community outreach at the Therapeutic & Recreational Riding Center (TRRC). The center provides physical and occupational therapy services to children and adults with a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional disabilities.
Led by Dr. Sherri Braxton-Lieber, Director for Instructional Technology, the team was tasked with landscaping, which included pulling weeds and freeing up some hidden rose bushes. Braxton-Lieber also works at the TRRC and has supported it for over 10 years.
“The center provides great services and reaches many families…”
The area that had been overrun by weeds. They were prickly and very hard to get out, requiring the team to use gloves.
“The center provides great services and reaches many families, but has no budget for most of the ground maintenance and landscaping activities.” said Braxton-Lieber.
Brad Boyle, Instructional Technology Specialist, was just one of the several team members helping out. He described the experience as fun, and that it was a nice way to bond with coworkers. “I have done work like this before, and it is nice to be able to help out a place that serves others.” said Boyle.
“To have any type of positive impact is the most important part of it for me.”
Community service such as this helps the center out greatly. Rather than having regular volunteers focus on the landscaping, it frees them up to serve the people who come to the TRRC to the best of their abilities.
“I see serving others in any way as an important part of my life,” said Boyle. “To have any type of positive impact is the most important part of it for me.”
This type of community outreach creates a much different experience than most are used to. Instead of being in an office setting, the Instructional Technology team was outside working together, with each member taking on a different section of weeds, which worked out well to clear them out in an efficient manner.
“... Even the smallest change makes a huge impact!”
After dealing with those prickly weeds, the area is now clear and mulch was placed to control the return of the weeds.
Holly Owens, Instructional Technology Specialist, said “It’s important to me as a member of the UMBC community to reach out and be involved, even the smallest change makes a huge impact!” Owens had previously only done yard work at her home prior to volunteering at the TRRC and encourages others to go out and make a difference.
“I think the most fulfilling thing about this is experience is knowing that we made a difference and were able to help others.” said Owens.
Mariann Hawken, Instructional Technology Specialist, is no stranger to this type of community outreach. On a regular basis, she volunteers for her son’s bowling league, which provides a team experience with free equipment and coaching for disabled players. That same team experience was also present at the TRRC. Hawken said, "It was a nice experience to volunteer, especially as a team."
“Working together ensured we were able to get the job done and it gave our team a chance to do something that required a different kind of collaboration and cooperation.” said Hawken.
"...they should find something they have interest and passion for and give their time."
Braxton-Lieber would love to have this type of service at the TRRC become a yearly commitment but also wants more DoIT employees to get involved anywhere. “There are so many nonprofits in Maryland that need the support,” said Braxton-Lieber. “They should find something they have interest in and passion for and give their time.”
In a letter to the team, Dr. Helen Tuel, Founding Director at the TRRC, thanked the team for the amount of work they did around the center. Tuel said “Thank you for believing in the work we do and for giving the children in our care hopeful futures full of possibilities with much potential and brimming with success.”
From left to right: Sherri Braxton-Lieber, Mariann Hawken, Brad Boyle, Indigo (Sherri’s Horse) and Holly Owens.
If you want to learn more about the TRRC or volunteer to help out, you can contact Sherri Braxton-Lieber at email@example.com
You can also contact Dr. Helen Tuel at firstname.lastname@example.org