Wednesday, June 21, 2006
OU professor recognized for volunteer serviceBy Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
Beth Talbert, special instructor of communication and communication program coordinator at the Macomb University Center, doesn’t watch TV. She doesn’t have time. She spends her free hours volunteering for a number of organizations in the community. Her dedication to Rochester, its schools and her church earned her the 2006 Rochester Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) Council’s Founders’ Day special honoree and the 2005 Volunteer of the Year award from Rochester Community Schools.
With two children in high school and teaching classes at OU, it’s amazing Talbert has time to serve the many organizations she does.
“I do things I have a passion for. Some people watch television, I don’t. You make time for what’s important to you,” Talbert said.
Most of Talbert’s volunteer service comes from the Rochester School District, where her daughters attend school. She has volunteered with the PTA Council, where she served as vice president for two years and worked on the legislative and health welfare committees. She also served on a millage campaign as a steering committee chair and worked on a professional development committee. Talbert has also chaired the Rochester School’s Fun Run.
In addition, Talbert has volunteered for the educational committee at her church and served on her neighborhood association board.
“My family is very supportive of what I do. We share the same value system so they often volunteer with me at some events,” said Talbert. “It allows us to spend time as a family, doing something helpful for someone else.”
Talbert said volunteering provides her the opportunity to meet hardworking and dedicated people. However, she also sees volunteering as her duty. As a citizen, Talbert said she can’t complain about a process or situation unless she tries to change it.
“I can’t imagine not doing it. If you see a need and you are able to help someone — if you can rally the troops and get people on the same page — you should at least try,” said Talbert. “I believe in the power of working in groups to create change.”
Aside from feeling a sense of accomplishment from seeing a task completed, Talbert said she also learns a lot from her volunteer experiences — including being open to other’s views.
Along with her husband, Tom, Talbert participated in a mission trip to Liberia last year for her church. They met a number of people with a different sense of the world. Earlier this year, some of the Liberians she met were able to come to her home to visit and Talbert made sure her children sat and listened to the views of their guests, because it’s something they couldn’t experience anywhere else.
Volunteering is something Talbert has incorporated into her classes, as well. Each year, she challenges her Group Dynamic class to do something that makes a difference. Last year, the class went to a Habitat for Humanity house build. The class then wrote a paper on how groups impact change.
“It’s really hard to teach group dynamics without actually going out there and experiencing it,” said Talbert. “Besides seeing group dynamics firsthand, the students really felt a sense of accomplishment.”
Talbert isn’t into volunteering for the recognition that comes along with it. She just wants to help where she can.
“The point is to try to improve things for everyone,” said Talbert.