Monday, December 7, 2015

Outwit, Outlast, Outplay

Thank you to Jordan Debbink, Res Life Coordinator and Weekend Staff Supervisor, for writing today's blog.

On November 21st Shepherds College students and Catalyst clients embarked on a challenge of wits and strength.  Journeying through nine various geographical regions, ten tribes geared up to compete in a game that many have called “daring” and “adventurous.”  They called it: Survivor!

Survivor was staged in various rooms within the Wood Center on the Shepherds grounds.  Tribes met in the gym for the opening Council Meeting, selected their tribal torch from the inner circle and learned of the various challenges they were about to embark upon.  They also witnessed the presentation of two immunity idols that were, at random, placed around the building. 

For the next two hours, tribes ventured into the darkest jungles, climbed the highest mountain, found themselves stranded on a raft in the ocean and created their tribal symbol and animal.  At each location, tribes tested their strengths and wits to overcome obstacles.  They encountered jungle vines in the form of the human knot, natural disasters while climbing the mountain, a selection of random items needed to survive while stranded on the raft, and ate rations of oysters and sardines in the blustering Arctic. At each challenge, they had the opportunity to earn points to ultimately win the Skill Challenge!

As they ventured from challenge to challenge, Catalyst clients and College students engaged in conversation, learning about each other and working as a team to overcome the obstacles of the game.  Tribes created team symbols like the “Camelbacks” and “BatMen” and then totem animals out of various craft supplies.

The evening ended at the final Tribal Council in the gym.  Tribes filed in and faced the elimination round.  Tribes shouted out their scores and plunged their torches into the inner circle!  The Aqua and Blue tribes claimed victory by using keen senses to find the Grass and Parrot immunity idols.

Many thanks to those who offered time, items and ideas to the game:
Riverwood and Faith Chapel churches in Burlington, Lori Konopasek, Michele McGarry, Kayla Burnet, Murial Anderson, Melba Wright, Ashley Gillmore, Beth Reetz and Neil Buchannon.

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

They're Adorbs!

Thank you to Cathy Harvey, Administrative Assistant, for writing today's blog.

We are in the midst of all the holiday festivities, and I am excited. Being a basement stationery artist, I am attracted to the aisles of Christmas cards and wrapping paper tantalizing my creativity and mood for this special season. I enjoy the entire process involved in sending out cards: choosing just which card design and words speaks to my heart, taking a family photo, writing the notes, choosing the pen that fits my hand like a glove, listening to Christmas music while I write, addressing the envelopes and the feel of the the ink on paper as the cursive flows from my pen, and even deciding which Christmas stamp to use!

Every year since 2010, Shepherds College has designed a card to send to those who lives touch the college ministry and to whom we wish to send a special Christmas greeting. This year’s
a d o r a b l e card was designed by one of our upcoming graduates, Olya Porth, and I am excited to begin addressing the envelopes so I can send them out!

Besides the college card, one of our artistic residents, Melody Farr, used her God-given talents to draw three different designs for the ministry’s Christmas cards—also adorable! For only $10.00 for a package of 12, I scooped up three the first day I saw them. Even the back of the cards shares an important message. Placed around sweet little stars Melody drew and colored is this: “People with disabilities... are people with abilities too.” It aligns perfectly with our philosophy that each person is designed by God on purpose and for a purpose, and that our mission is to train for life. That tiny nugget on the back of each card blessed me, and I pray it will be noticed.

And if that weren’t enough, Melody also created very colorful designs that have been reprinted on recipe cards—so, so adorable (pardon my junior high-ish expressions) I literally squealed when I first saw them on the counter in the marketing department. I purchased four sets immediately!  Perfect stocking stuffers or gifts for all my “foodie” sisters and friends. They are only $5.00 a pack, so they fit perfectly for a casual, low-cost gift exchange too!

As I stood squealing my delight at the recipes, I could not hold back the cheer, “They are so adorable! to which the Director of Marketing replied, “Yep! They’re adorbs!” Apparently that is the new lingo of the younger generation. Perhaps it stems from numerous abbreviated words used for text messaging, but “adorbs” hit the spot for these little masterpieces.

Check them out and feel free to order them by emailing with your contact and credit card information. You can also call 262-878-5620 to order, or mail your order with a check to:

Shepherds Ministries
1805 15th Ave
Union Grove, WI 53182
Attn: Susan Griffis

Because “They’re adorbs!”

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at

Friday, October 9, 2015

Never A Dull Moment

Thank you to Cathy Harvey, Administrative Assistant, for writing today's blog.

Parents, if you are worried about what your son or daughter will do with their weekends if they don’t come home, let us assure you there is never a dull moment around Shepherds College! Our Residential Life Coordinator and Weekend Supervisor, Jordan Debbink, continually scours community and online resources to provide fun, relaxing, and interesting activities for all our students, and there is quite a variety from which students may choose.

The Sign-up board for activities is often full, and sometimes to overflowing, with choices. Students exercise decision-making and budgeting skills as they consider the upcoming possibilities. This year’s Student Activity board has already included sign-up sheets for the following variety of activities:

  • Dog shows
  • YMCA
  • Grill and Games
  • Cookouts
  •  Mexican Fiesta
  • Kite Flying
  • Nature Center
  • Brewers Game
  • Bowling 
  •  Car Show
  •  Ice Skating Championship Show
  •  Tickets to plays (James & the Giant Peach, currently)
  • Gillmore Farm campfire, s’mores, and hayrides
  • Fall Festivals

It is a joy to hear the students gather outside the college office where the activity board hangs and hear the buzz of conversation between classes as students decide what and why they want others to join them in an outing.

Res Life staff work hard to coordinate these events, reserve vehicles, consider the meal schedule and meds they may need to take, and many other details as they strive to give our students a great college experience laced with opportunities to grow in their independence, as well as social and daily living skills.

A shout out and high 5 to Jordan Debbink and all the staff who help make these creative activities  happen! We hope it builds a scrapbook of fond memories for our students as they continue their college journey.

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Elevator Speech

Thank you to Yvonne Tomczak, PR & Marketing Assistant, for writing today's blog.

Yesterday, the second-year students learned about elevator speeches in their Personal and Professional Development 2 (PPD2) class. They all had to create a 30 second elevator speech about themselves that they would then have to practice on four different people. 

The class came and visited us in the Development department to practice these speeches. One by one they came up and introduced themselves, talked about their major and what they are currently learning. They shared their hobbies and special interests, and told us something that they are looking forward to this school year. All of them did a wonderful job despite being nervous.

I figured, since I am new to Shepherds Ministries and all of the second year students just introduced themselves to me by using these newly learned elevator speeches, maybe I should write one and introduce myself this way too. So, here is my elevator speech:

Hello, my name is Yvonne Tomczak.

I am the new Marketing/ Public Relations assistant here at Shepherds. As the assistant, my duties vary every day. Some days I am getting smaller office tasks out of the way, and other days I am writing different kinds of pieces, taking pictures around campus, and/or putting together ads and posters. 

I enjoy designing my own typefaces, photography, knitting, and anything else that is crafty. I also really enjoy taking walks with my husband along Lake Michigan. 

Something I am really looking forward to is getting to know the students better and learning more about Shepherds. I am also really looking forward to coaching the Special Olympics soccer teams again this coming fall!

At the end of the exercise, Instructor Sarah Kolkman debriefed the students, asking them why having an elevator speech prepared could be beneficial to them. Students agreed that this would help them with first impressions and make introductions less awkward and choppy. They also stated the value that such an elevator speech could have for them in an employment setting or when applying for a job.  

Here are some of the student's reflections about elevator speeches:

Mrs. Kolkman asked, "Why is it important to have an elevator speech memorized?  How will you use this speech this year?"

"Because you never know who you will meet and it might be a very important person.  It will be helpful for interviews and for other speeches in other classes and in life.  it also is going to be really good for when we have a big speech in class or in a job." - Gretchen

"If you have an elevator speech you will have a better future.  I can use this in class and out of school and the more you practice the better you will be" - Nee Dow

"It can bring others together" - Leah

"So you can be ready for unexpected visitors who want to know what you have been doing in Shepherds College and what the school is all about" - Hannah

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