Leadership Fellows News

Senior Leadership Capstone Projects 2018 Interviews

Every Spring semester, graduating seniors in LFP participate in Senior
Leadership Capstone Projects. These projects allow students to practice
the leadership skills they have developed here at Eastern through
service to the surrounding community. Students make it their goal to
find a need in an off-campus organization. They then work to meet that
organization's need. Last Spring 2018, students presented their projects
to the campus community.


What's a short abstract for your project?

Servant leadership is one of the most profound forms of leadership. It is found in humility, and in partaking in tasks the world does not deem “glamorous.” There is strength, then, in a community that humbles itself to help others. Change is found in the small steps a team takes, as they work to forge long-lasting impact. Our team, Refugee Project, came together to serve a community in need. Through servant leadership, we learned more closely the impact of togetherness, and the greatness of starting small to make worldwide impact. Together, we helped out Narenj Tree Foundation, an organization that sends goods to refugees, by serving on their team, creating an appreciation project for them, and working to make lasting impact through Eastern’s service learning.

Tell us about the organization you partnered with. 

The Narenj Tree Foundation is a non-profit organization that filters, organizes, and ships donations, such as food, clothing, linens, toys, accessories, etc. to Syrian refugees. The Narenj Tree Foundation also is home to a small store that is entirely dedicated to raising funds to send to refugees for non-transportable necessities, such as medical services. 

Explain the purpose behind your selected service project. 

As a group we wanted to find something that we could serve in a way that utilized all of our strengths. We brainstormed what our strengths were and how we would use them. We discovered that organization and being organized as a team was a large strength of ours. Along with this, we wanted to appreciate and recognize the hard work of the people around us. When we discovered Narenj Tree, it truly did fit into what we were looking for, and how we could serve this organization. Narenj Tree also had some roots at Eastern, and it was extremely easy to love on them and form a relationship. 

What your project consisted of and what difference did you make? 

As stated above, our project consisted of service, appreciation, and the end goal of making Narenj a future service learning site. The service consisted of our team organizing clothing donations into bags for men, women, and children. During this time, we conversed with other volunteers and staffed, which allowed us to form a bond with those there. Our appreciation consisted of buying donuts and a card for the Narenj staff, in order to show them that we appreciated all of their hard work and dedication. Along with this, I painted a realistic depiction of their symbol (a little colorful tree), which they said they would soon hang up. Lastly, we talked with Megan Acedo in order to create Narenj into a future service learning site. Emails and contact information were exchanged between Megan and Narenj, so we are praying it all works out in the end!

What was the most important thing you learned from doing this project?

We learned firstly about the impact of community, both on the global and local level. We found community within ourselves, and learned how to effectively communicate and have grace with one another. We all had a deep desire to serve, which united us in a common bond. We also bonded with the staff and volunteers there, who also had this desire to serve. We lastly learned about how our service could impact people across the world. The smallest act can have such a deep impact on others.  
Lindsey Laverty, Taylor Smucker, David Trok, and PJ Schaefer

What's a short abstract for your project?

This event was done with A Haven a grief group that works in the Chester County Area. They predominantly work with children but their goal is to empower families to come together to begin the process of healing. There were a couple goals behind this picnic which were to give families grieving a fun afternoon, to get A Haven’s name out in community, and to collect art supplies. For the event we used a carnival theme which included different carnival games to win tickets, popcorn, caramel apples, and a prize table. The turnout was great, a little slow in the beginning but soon families enjoying a day in the park were joining in. This was a great way for A Haven to get their name out into the community and begin to make connections. The art donations are used by A Haven for a technique called art therapy. We had over 75 art donations and even created a connection with an art store that was interested in donating more in the future. A Haven was was asked by an attending parent to have a table at an event at the YMCA promoting children’s health.

Tell us about the organization you partnered with. 

A Haven attempts to help families work through there grief by surrounding themselves with their community. Whether this is their relatives or people from their community.

Explain the purpose behind your selected service project. 

Our project was something that A Haven needed, we didn't not go to them with the idea. We went asking what they needed and they told us that they were looking for an opportunity to get their name out.

What your project consisted of and what difference did you make? 

We created three different connections for A Haven and gave the community a enjoyable day in the park.

What was the most important thing you learned from doing this project?

The thing I learned was that you don't need to have everything planned out. We went to the leaders and they told us what they needed. You don't need to have everything planned out to be able to help.
Posted by Logan Mcentire with

Meet the New Chair!

Class: Spring 2020

Major: Biology with a Biochemistry minor on the pre-PA track

Hometown: Staten Island, New York and Central Jersey

Fun Fact: This is my least favorite question, because I never know what to say! I love to cook for friends, I’m only 5’1.” Here’s an embarassing (fun) fact- I have fallen down every hill/staircase on campus at least twice.

Mariella DiStefano is a junior majoring in Biology with a minor
in Biochemistry on the Pre-PA track. She will be serving as
Chair of the Board for the Spring 2019 and Fall 2020 semesters.

What are you involved in on campus?

There are a few different things I’m involved with on campus. Currently, I am involved different ministries and clubs like Wednesday Night Worship, Chapel Worship team, International Justice Mission, and Sigma Zeta science honors society. In the past, I’ve been a part of the Student Activities Board, Student Chaplain program, the Leadership Fellows Program small groups, and Earthkeepers.

In what leadership roles have you served on campus? How has the LFP helped you in these roles?

I’ve been really blessed to have served as a leader in lots of the clubs and ministries I mentioned previously. I was a Chapel Worship team leader, a team leader for Wednesday Night Worship, and a Student Chaplain in a residence hall. Now, I am a member of the Leadership Fellows Program board (as well as being Chair), I’m co-President of Wednesday Night Worship, and I TA for a biology lab! LFP has not only given me direct opportunities to step into leadership, such as being a small group leader, member of the board, and the current Chair, but has also equipped with me for other types of leadership, both on and off campus. Through the freshmen year small group, the classes built into the program, and the relationships formed in my cohort (and in the cohorts above and below my own!) and with Dr. Stutzman, I’ve grown as a leader in the areas of service, patience, delegation, communication, and innovation.

What are you passionate about?

I am really passionate about a lot of things, but mostly about people. I love seeing people realize their potential. I love watching a person choose to take a step that is outside of their comfort zone, but will allow them to grow in a new way. I love listening to people and making them feel heard and understood. I love community. I also love learning about people that are different from me, and making those who are forgotten feel recognized and cared for and remembered. One of my biggest passions developed this summer, when I had the privilege of living in South Dakota on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for three months. This reservation is in the poorest county of the United States, with an unemployment rate of 73%, and increasing. Doing construction work and being around members of the Oglala Lakota community all day and leading worship for youth groups all night allowed some of my biggest passions to culminate into an experience that radically impacted me, and shaped the way I will live for the rest of life. That was a really long explanation, sorry!

What are your responsibilities as Chair?

As Chair of LFP, I get to lead orientation (the best thing ever!), be involved with the Board, meet with Dr. Stutzman, and help plan events for the current members of LFP. Really, I just get to hang out with people in LFP all the time and do things to serve them and our EU community as a whole, so I’m a happy camper!

What would you like to see happen over this next year that you're Chair?

I’ve been thinking about all the different things that could happen this year. Being Chair is a great position, but it is also hard, because you’re given the opportunity to make a lasting mark on the LFP, and on Eastern as a whole. After talking with the Board, we’ll definitely continue to host events for LFP members every month to give everyone an opportunity see each other have fun together. Additionally, since I am a student worker in the Undergraduate Admissions Office, I would really like to be involved in reaching out to the future 2023 cohort of LFP, and to help with the recruiting process. There has been discussion of incorporating aspects of service into our program, both on and off campus. Lastly, as someone who has been a small group leader for LFP for the past two years, I would love expand that program, since it so fundamental to the way we come together as a community of servant-leaders.

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