Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight: Shannyn Nellett

Writing Club Coordinator Shannyn Nellett (left) grew up on a farm in Ohio where she learned to see the simple side of life. Her family didn’t go out to eat – everything was homemade. They picked vegetables from their own garden and went to country markets for proteins. They didn’t have a computer or cable television, so Shannyn and her sisters were forced to entertain each other. Their entire lifestyle was very frugal and self-sufficient.

Growing up on a farm, Shannyn was not exposed to a lot, and, therefore, developed a wild imagination. “Creating things became a tool for me,” she says. She loves to write, paint, and sketch – anything artistic. “It’s a way of expression… You can create your own experience.”

When it came time for college, Shannyn took a train out to California to study comparative literature at San Diego State University. She was in for an extreme culture shock, but instead of being afraid, she was completely fascinated. The biggest difference was that people in California are very self-interested, whereas people in her hometown are more concerned with taking care of others. But, different as they may be, she managed to have a good time.

After college, Shannyn worked on the east coast for awhile before moving to Chicago. She wanted to make a big change after originally taking a job as an account manager. Now she works as a freelance writer and artist. She also works at restaurants near Wrigley Field when the Cubs are in-season. She loves Chicago because it is so diverse and there is so much to see and do. Her favorite place in the entire world is Barnes & Noble. She does most of her writing there and jokes that it’s her office.

Shannyn heard about Cabrini Connections through a friend who wanted to implement a writing program at a tutor/mentor center. On their first day here, they came in with brownies to meet students and tell them about a new writing club. The next week, they brought journals, stickers, and markers, and it was a hit! Shannyn wrote a message in each student’s journal to express appreciation, and, for about a year, they had 10 students every week.

Numbers have been a bit lower this year, but the club has carried on. Anyone is welcome to join at any time. Writing Club is for students who enjoy expressing themselves or want to improve their writing skills. (It’s also important to note that they bring food, such as Subway or McDonald’s.) You can see what they’ve been working on on their blog and their Facebook group.

Shannyn’s personal goals for 2010 and beyond are 1) to get published, 2) to get a master’s degree, and 3) to learn more about photography. Good luck with your goals, Shannyn, and thanks for all that you do!

1 comment:

  1. This photo shows me (Dan Bassill) with Shannon and Meghan Bacino, who started the writing club with Shannon. We're dressed up because we were at the Kellogg Managers Ball at the Museum of Science Industry where Cabrini Connections was one of the featured charities. Megan and Shannon are two of many volunteers who have given their talent and time to help us, in ways beyond being a one-on-one tutor/mentor. Thank you both.