Oregon State University logo

Helping others may start small – but it creates big ripples

HDFS intern learns from vulnerable populations, spreads and inspires kindness

Carrie Czarnecki is beginning her final year in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and plans to graduate with a degree in human development and family sciences with a minor in public health. From Lake Oswego, Oregon, Carrie chose this major because she enjoys working with and helping others.

When she’s not studying or in class, Carrie is an intern at Home Life, a Corvallis non-profit that provides safe, integrated community living services that enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities.

“People come from unique backgrounds and have such different upbringings, which is why people in general just fascinate me,” Carrie says. “There is so much you can learn from one another, and there’s so much to learn about a person that you would never really know if you didn’t ask.” 

What are your plans after graduation?

I would love to work with the homeless population. I don’t know where exactly that will take me but I am willing to go almost anywhere. I love working with the homeless population and a majority of them are just misunderstood and I want to break down those barriers and show people that they are just like you and me. 

What difference do you hope to make in the world?

There’s so much in this world that could be changed for the better, but it starts small. Kindness should be a ripple effect and I believe that if every day I can show kindness to every person I come across, whether that be at work, school, the streets, a restaurant, etc., then that will go a long way.

But, if I were to tackle that huge project, I would want to change the situation for the homeless. I want to break the stereotypes, advocate for more mental health awareness and treatment, advocate for more addiction treatment and prevention plans, and advocate for health care for all because at the end of the day, we are all human and we are all deserving of that care. 

Have you had an experience in college that’s been especially impactful?

College has been impactful in so many ways already, and I still have a year left! I would say that internships at Community Outreach Inc. and Home Life have been the most impactful. They have taught me so much more about myself than I even realized and have given me endless opportunities.

These internships have helped shape my helping-heart identity, and I am so thankful to have had the support I have received in order for everything to work out. I have also made great friends through my jobs and have formed great relationships in the community. 

Why did you choose to intern at Home Life?

At Home Life, I am a Direct Support Professional, or DSP, and am also an intern in the main office. As a DSP, I work with clients who have developmental disabilities, and we work on integrating them into the community and getting them involved.

For example, we host weekly events such as Monday night dinners, where clients order their food and budget themselves, and then we have other fun activities such as bowling, swimming and coffee hours. These are all activities that we do together so that clients can build relationships with other clients and also get out and just be a part of something.

In the main office, I help out with various tasks, and it has been such a great educational opportunity for me to see how both sides work. I have been with Home Life since April 2019, and the time has flown by. Every day is new and exciting, and I really look forward to going into work.

I wanted to intern here because I had never worked with this population directly before other than with my uncle, but I knew that this would put me out of my comfort zone. I think that’s what internships are for and that is to challenge yourself and to put yourself in new situations.

When my internship hours at the main office end, I will continue working at Supported Living Plus until I graduate. I hope I can leave behind lasting memories with my clients and coworkers because I know I will remember all of them and all of our fun times together. In these few short months, I already have made so many memories that I know I won’t forget. It will be sad to say goodbye, but luckily I don’t have to think about that for a bit. 

Do you have any advice for incoming or current students?

People always laugh or roll their eyes when I say this, but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and not care what others think. This can be used in any context, whether it be in your personal life or your professional life. I feel like if people actually lived that way, then they wouldn’t laugh at me when I say it. Once you truly believe it, it is easier to find happiness within yourself.

Eventually, you stop comparing yourself to others or you stop wishing you had this or that. You become solely focused on life itself. Life is an adventure, and it’s full of opportunities, stories, people, friends, feelings and basically everything under the sun. You just have to be open to it, and that starts with accepting yourself and getting the most out of the life that you want.

At the end of the day, people will come and go, you may get fired, you may get evicted, you may get married, etc., but through that all there’s one thing that remains and that is yourself. You get one life in this world, so get out there and explore!

Comments are closed.