Effective community service involves the ability to overcome stereotypes and judgments, as well as having a genuine passion for helping others while building the capacities and competencies of the clients we serve. An individual cannot truly engage in effective community service without understanding that these principles are necessary to fostering change in institutions and creating a positive healthy relationship within the environment. Volunteering at the Capital District Psychiatric Center this semester has been an experience like no other. Not only have I been able to have an effective impact on the patients’ lives, but they have truly had an impact on mines. As a psychology major at the University, I walked into the psychiatric center with my own expectations and beliefs about what my experience would be like. Without knowledge and based on what you see in movies, many people assume that patients are constantly being restrained in restraining jackets, and are probably most of the time acting really out of order. To my surprise, that definitely was not the case at Capital District. It wasn’t until I attempted to understand and apply the principles of overcoming stereotypes and judgments that I was able to work on creating a healthy relationship and environment between myself and the patients. The article “Becoming Good Citizens” (Duncan and Kooperud, 2008) was the basis for my understanding of how individuals can begin to apply their qualities of being an effective team leader. According to the article, becoming a good citizen entails being able to make good judgments while recognizing and working to overcome negative stereotypes and judgments. An individual that makes good judgments based on prior experience and reflection is able to “make informed decisions about the polity at large” guided by their sense of morality and consideration for others. Familiarity with ethics while practicing community service is another way in which individuals can work towards overcoming negative stereotypes and judgments. Ethical behavior according to Duncan and Kooperud, is necessary for being truly moral. Practicing honesty and integrity, fairness, and respect are ways we can work on breaking down stereotypes and judgments during our service to the community. While volunteering at the Capital District Psychiatric Center, it wasn’t until I began to apply the principles of ethics, while I personally worked to break down the stereotypes and judgments I was acquainted with, when I began to develop healthy relations with the clients I served. Effective community service also involves having a genuine compassion for helping others. The article “Hungry Minds” written by Ian Frazier demonstrated that all individuals have the power and resources to positively affect the lives of others, but what we lack is a true commitment. When an individual is able to engage in community service for no reason other than to produce positive change, their commitment will then over shine their work and that individual will be able to successfully give back to the community with compassion for the individuals he/she serves. This article demonstrated how one church was determined to change the lives of homeless individuals.
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