Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Life is change

I’ve had a yellow star-shaped sticky note on my monitor for some time now, long enough that I normally don’t even notice it. That is until today.

Life is Change.

Believe I copied that from a tweet by @judsonlaipply or maybe his Web site. It struck me then as a thought worth posting. It has a much more positive spin than the old saying that “the Only Constant is Change,” which can be a depressing, overwhelming, stressful thought.

Change can keep things interesting.

Change can keep you on your toes.

Change is the natural progression of life.

There’s change in family roles: from Mommy to Mom to Mother-in-law, from dependent daughter to caretaker. There’s change in work roles: new jobs, new ways to do our jobs, new opportunities. There’s change all around us: even new streetscapes with one less stoplight than we are used to, and no right-turn-on red. (Visit Bluffton to see what’s up with that. It’s really quite nice. Just different.)

Thank goodness in all this craziness there are some constants. Last Sunday Bluffton employees reaching 5-year milestones were honored at the Faculty and Staff Recognition Dinner. Of the 39 people honored, 12 have worked at Bluffton for 20 years or more.

Faculty/Staff honored for employment milestones
Seven were given the opportunity to reflect on their years at Bluffton: 25-year honorees Tami Forbes (HPER), Marcia Gallant (Marbeck), Jeff Gundy (English) and Gregg Luginbuhl (art); Willis Sommer (fiscal affairs), 30 years; Rick Lichtle (business office), 35 years; and Sue Hardwick (box office), 45 years.

The common-denominator in all their comments: Bluffton is a great place because of the people and the natural beauty of campus. While I cannot speak for the whole of Bluffton’s 110 years, for the time that I’ve been around I would have to agree.

What makes Bluffton a special place? Tami expressed it well, “It’s all about relationships.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Service to Haiti

While the world watched the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, three Bluffton alumni were experiencing it firsthand.

Brandon ’07 and Jess (Cassel ’09) King had traveled with 25 others from Souderton Mennonite Church, Souderton, Pa., to Haiti for a mission trip. Part of their group planned to work in La Baleine, a small village 90 miles west of Port-au-Prince, at a water purification and oxygenation plant. The other group would travel on to Passe Bois D’Orme to work with Water For Life, a mission that drills wells in villages.

The Kings were traveling from one village to the other when the earthquake hit. No one in the group was hurt and they set to work distributing food to local villages that had been destroyed.

Their trip home was delayed because of the devastation in Port-au-Prince and the airport. They returned to the U.S. Monday morning and were scheduled to travel home to Pennsylvania sometime on Tuesday. To read of a first-hand account of the Kings’ mission group, visit The Reporter.

Another Bluffton alumnus, Jim Pohlman ’72, was in Haiti on a VOSH-Ohio eyeglass distribution trip. Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH-Ohio) collects eyeglasses and distributes them in third-world countries. They began seeing eye patients on Jan. 10 at the Society of Our Lady Mission in Hinche, about 75 miles from the quake's epicenter.

After the earthquake they traveled into Port-au-Prince and to the airport. Pohlman and the VOSH-Ohio group returned safely to the United States on Friday. For more information about Pohlman’s experience, visit The Courier.

If you know of other Bluffton alumni involved in the Haiti earthquake or those that are helping with the relief effort please let us know about their stories. Bluffton students have responded through prayer and by making donations to Mennonite Central Committee. Student organizations on campus are organizing additional fundraisers for Haiti relief.

To those returning from Haiti, we give thanks to God for your safe return. For those going into Haiti to serve we thank you and pray God grants you strength, courage, stamina. For the people of Haiti, our hearts cry out to God for you.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2010 Resolutions

2010 Zumba Class It was the year 1900, and the number one cause of death was infectious disease – pneumonia, influenza, polio.

One hundred years later, in 2000, the number one cause of death was behavior-related disease – heart disease, cancer, stroke, COPD.

Stop a second and re-read that. Let that sink in. The top four causes of death in 2000 were directly related to our behaviors – primarily tobacco use and obesity. Ouch.

That was just one of the eye-opening examples presented by Ross M. Kauffman, Ph.D., at Forum as he spoke on “Not Merely the Absence of Disease: Creating a Healthy World.” Kauffman (coincidentally the brother of Bluffton’s own criminal justice professor Rudi Kauffman) is an epidemiologist working in the Training in Research for Behavioral Oncology and Cancer Control program at the Indiana University School of Nursing in Indianapolis.

Then last night was the “medical” episode on The Biggest Loser – where Dr. Z comes in and dramatically explains to the contestants what their extra weight is doing to their health.

I was so impressed by the woman who was voted off the show. She was taking a handful of medicines daily when she started the show. When they showed her “today,” she was down to one pill. ONE. And she had “only” lost 50 pounds. Her goal is to be off all meds by the show finale. And to think she had been living like that for 20 years, without the motivation, the confidence, the desire to change.

Since we can’t all move to the Biggest Loser ranch, employer-sponsored wellness programs are so important. Just think about it – healthier employees mean fewer doctor visits/medical tests/medicines which in turn mean fewer insurance claims and better insurance rates.

For the past three summers, Bluffton faculty and staff have enjoyed an employee-led weight-loss/fitness challenge. It’s been fun. It’s been motivating. It’s been successful. And today begins the first faculty/staff Zumba noon-time class.

While we cannot control everything that affects our health – there are many things that we can do to stay healthy. In a fun, crowd-participation portion of Forum, Kauffman distributed sun screen, toothpaste, antibacterial gel and tissues to participants as examples of how we can take control of our own health. He also stressed the importance of getting flu shots, wearing seatbelts and not smoking.

Our health and the health of those around us are often in our own hands. It’s still the New Year. There is time to make a resolution to become informed about the impact of our actions, and then take it one step further and work to make healthy choices.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Beat the Winter Doldrums

It would be so easy to give into the urge to hibernate from the time the Christmas lights come down until the first robin sighting in the spring. I’m envisioning a warm spot next to the fire with a blanket and good book/movie or handicraft project. See you in April!

Fortunately or unfortunately – however you look at it – we humans are social beings. From the time we are born we crave interaction with others. Hibernating through the winter really isn’t an option for a healthy psyche. And while virtual relationships are good, there is just something about face-to-face interactions that cannot be duplicated.

Enter Bluffton’s alumni relations staff. Several mid-winter events are planned to pull you out of the winter doldrums.

Alumni basketball games are planned for the men’s and women’s teams. You must be a former player to play in the alumni game. But anybody can come, watch, cheer, visit. And if you are a former player, you don’t have to play. Feel free to just come and reconnect.
Athletics Hall of Fame induction banquet will honor Al Beitler ’76, Kimberly (Spiegel ’93) Mutchler, Emil Knorr ’57 and the 1967 baseball team on Saturday, Jan. 23. Inductees will be introduced at approximately 2 p.m. between the men’s and women’s basketball games vs. Transylvania. Come and visit there, or make plans to attend the induction banquet which begins at 6 p.m. (For tickets contact the box office at 419-358-3239 or .)

An OMEA breakfast will be held at the Ohio Music Educators Association conference in Cincinnati on Friday, Jan. 29. If you’ll be there anyway, meet up with fellow alumni to start the day off right.

Alumnae R&R, a day to kick back and visit, is being organized by the Women’s Council for Saturday, March 6.

By then, dare we hope, that the first robin of spring will be outside our window with crocuses starting to peek through the snow?