People may not have thought twice when Libby Hancock, a Turning Points student from Mountain Brook, Alabama, handed them their parking pass at the start of the semester. However, for her and the many students of Turning Points, these jobs are an instrumental part of making them far more independent.
Established in 2012, Turning Points is a program started by Mountain Brook High School that brings students with special needs, ages 18-21, from nearby high schools onto Samford University’s campus. They spend time socializing with Samford students and gaining job skills, all while still learning in a classroom setting.
Amber Cruz, a sophomore education major from Bedford, Texas, has seen firsthand the impact Turning Points has had on the students as a volunteer.
“I have seen them grow and eventually get jobs which is the ultimate goal,” Cruz said.
Donna Gardner, a Turning Points staff member, described the impact that the program has on student volunteers.
“They often leave recharged and uplifted because our students love the interaction,” she said.
Although the volunteers gain so much from the program, the students are the ones who truly benefit. They are able to grow in their confidence, people skills and personal strengths. Hancock, for example, assists others in her class by taking notes and helping one of her friends who struggles to feed herself.
Some might also recognize Turning Points graduate Laurel Brown, who has worked in the Samford Caf for several years.
“They are taught basic skills, but they are always given the chance to learn for themselves and apply it in real life, as adults, instead of being held back for their disabilities,” Cruz said.
Turning Points is a Community Partner of Samford University’s Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership. Although students who participate through the service cadre spend the most time with these students, all students can get involved.
For more information about serving with Turning Points, contact Donna Gardner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shelly Fulks, Features Writer
[Photo courtesy of Shelly Fulks]