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Caitryn Gustafson

Describe what attracted you to the Meelia Center, and what your involvement has been through Meelia?

I am the Goodwill Goodguides and YDC Coordinator.  YDC is a secure facility for adjudicated youth, and Goodwill Goodguides is a mentoring program that helps youth transition from YDC back into the community.  I fell in love with my site and really wanted to be more involved with the community. I was so impressed with how much St. A's does for the community and was so excited to be a part of the incredible service community within our school.

What was the most memorable service experience that you or one of your volunteers has had through the Meelia Center for Community Engagement?

Working at YDC, I got to know most of the boys very well. I mentored a girl who was diagnosed with autism. She was bullied by her peers and many of the other girls inside of YDC. I teamed up with the some of the volunteers and helped to put an end to the bullying this sweet little girl endured. I think this was when I really felt a connection to my site and wanted to do more for it than just service-learning.

How does your work and service through the Meelia Center contribute to well-rounded education?

As sociology major I could not ask for a better opportunity to come into contact with people of all different backgrounds. I feel that my work and service through the Meelia Center has led me closer to figuring out what path to take in regards to my future social work career. I now have a better understanding of my particular passion in the community.  There is no better way to see the need in the community than to experience it first-hand.  You meet so many incredible people who share your same interests and passions. It is such a great way to branch out.

What skills have you developed through your work at the Meelia Center that will help you realize and achieve your future aspirations?

I have learned how to work with people of all types of backgrounds and disabilities. I have learned just how important it is to maintain a non-judgmental attitude and an open mind when engaged in important community work.

Describe the site you manage and the opportunities for students to serve at the site.

YDC is a center for incarcerated youth. The kids range in age from 13-18 and have experienced a variety of setbacks that have led to their placement in this facility. I believe that my site is an incredible opportunity to understand the realities of the world (including poverty, substance abuse, violence, etc.) while being an important person in the lives of individuals who have been labeled "outcasts" by society. Saint Anselm students quickly learn to tutor, talk, and play with kids that most people often fear being around.  I could not imagine my college experience without my service at YDC. It has shaped me just as much, if not more, than my academic or social time in campus.

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