SWU Human Services graduates’ experience helps those in need
Being a part of a service-oriented university dedicated to “contagious generosity” played a huge role in preparing two Southern Wesleyan University graduates for their current job with United Way of Pickens County (UWPC).
In addition to taking part in annual Day of Service projects and working as an intern in Southern Wesleyan University’s Advancement Office, Lyndy Barnes, a 2017 Human Services graduate, interned at UWPC while still a student, working with their Financial Stability and Community Basic Services.
After doing a graduate internship at Southern Wesleyan, Barnes went to Clemson University where she was a nonprofit coordinator, working with nonprofit volunteers who work the concession stands at Clemson’s athletic events (nonprofits get a commission which benefits their fundraising).
Now back as campaign manager at UWPC, Barnes conducts workplace campaigns across the Upstate, educating employees on the impact their gifts to the United Way make.
“When I first started here, I thought my job was to go out and give everyone a pitch, then I realized I wanted to actually serve people in some way and that making a pitch wasn’t really serving people,” Barnes said. “The more I step into this role, I realize I wanted to actually serve people in some way. My act of service at United Way is to connect our generous, willing donors and volunteers to the needs in our community and to show them gratitude for making an impact on the lives of real people with real stories.”
When United Way of Pickens County Director Julie Capaldi observed Barnes’ work as an intern, it was obvious to her that she was really gifted.
“When we created a new position two years later, we immediately thought of her. That is what interning is so valuable to students. It gives the organization the opportunity to really know the person. I can’t tell you how many graduate school and employment reference letters I write for former interns. I think it is the ultimate win-win,” Capaldi said.
Also interning with UWPC as a Southern Wesleyan student, Jeremy Price, a 2015 Human Services graduate, feels that his transition into his current work was a natural progression, given Southern Wesleyan’s emphasis on giving back to the community.
“My time at SWU prepped me and groomed me for the ability to serve and give back,” said Price, who works with financial stability programs such as tax preparation and emergency food and shelter within UWPC.
“We raise the money and then disperse it to other agencies,” said Price, adding that the Financial Stability Council volunteers, not fulltime UWPC staff members, decide where the funding goes in Pickens County.
Barnes looks back on lasting lessons she learned from Southern Wesleyan faculty and staff.
“I learned that kindness goes a long way; It's something I saw in my professors' teachings and philosophies early on. They taught me that I had potential and strengths I didn't know I had,” said Barnes. “Many faculty and staff that I had encounters with loved to show students that they had valuable potential. And I learned that to listen to others and meet them where they're at is to love and serve them.”
Price recalled caring professors, including Mildred Williams, who made a lasting impact on helping people, giving them the dignity and respect they deserve.
“I’ve used things she’s taught me at least once a week,” Price said. “
As a commuting student, Price also learned to appreciate Southern Wesleyan’s sense of community that included more than just the students living on campus.
UWPC is an independently-governed 501(c)3 nonprofit organization connected to a network of more than 1,300 United Ways through United Way Worldwide. Their focus is on education, financial stability and community basic services, which are the building blocks for a better quality of life.
Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused learning community devoted to transforming lives by challenging students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ. For details about degree programs, go online to swu.edu.