We Are Randox | Amy McIlwaine’s Camp Wakonda Story
Randox’s Public Relations Executive, Amy McIlwaine, tells us about her time in New York State, working in Camp Wakonda (Homes for the Homeless)
We’re celebrating the bright and vibrant lives of Randox employees, and the way in which these inspiring individuals have helped to make Randox as great as it is today. Stay up to date with the #WeAreRandox hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to hear more stories.
We were discussing our most inspiring moments with Amy McIlwaine, Public Relations Executive of Randox Laboratories, this week. She told us a story of her time volunteering with children in New York State that we knew we had to share! We hope her story inspires you as much as it did us:
Here is Amy’s story:
“During my years at school and at University I worked as a part-time lifeguard in a local pool. I’ve always been quite ambitious, so, when the time came to graduate and I decided to do some overseas work, I applied to be Waterfront Director at a camp in New York State, called Camp Wakonda.
When I say the words ‘Summer camp’ to people they usually picture expensive facilities with music suites, maybe some horse stables and jet-skis, with a love-able rogue Joe Jonas lookalike thrown in for good measure, but Camp Wakonda wasn’t quite like that!
Camp Wakonda is a Summer camp that is run by the Homes for the Homeless organisation, and accepts children between 6 and 10 years old who are homeless and living in New York shelters.
The camp has limited resources, cabins with no electricity, and various (sometimes) friendly camp companions such as bears, chipmunks and rattlesnakes (we were in the middle of the woods). Children came to camp with very few belongings – sometimes even without a decent pair of shoes. But in spite of all that, it’s one of my favourite places on this earth. Being free from the stresses of everyday life (mind you, working with 90 children at a time brings a different kind of stress!) is wonderfully liberating and living in the middle of nature brings a certain serenity.
Although we had such limited resources, we had the time of our lives! You learn to be really creative – we had themed days throughout the summer like a Harry Potter banquet, a ‘Fairytales of Wakonda’ pantomime, and even Christmas on the 25th July! That one was probably my favourite – some of the children had never had a real Christmas before. I’m happy to admit that I welled up when I saw how incredibly excited they were at receiving just one small gift.”
Smiling from ear-to-ear, Amy went on to highlight the importance of the camp she worked in, in offering homeless children from New York the opportunity to just enjoy being kids, and how this inspired her:
“The spirit of the children, and the counsellors, at Camp Wakonda is something that I had not come across before, and have not come across since. For children who have had such a difficult upbringing, they came to camp with the biggest smiles on their faces, and the smallest things like three hot meals a day meant the world to them. It was great to see them free from the stresses of their unfortunate circumstances. For me, as their swimming teacher, nothing made me smile more than when a child came running up to me shouting ‘Miss Amy, I learned how to float today!’ or when a camper who had been so scared of the water finally got in and had a beaming smile from ear-to-ear when I handed them a swimming certificate. Many of the children had never left the city, and so had never experienced some of the things that we take for granted – like being able to see the stars in the sky at night.
I lived and worked in Wakonda for three months during 2014, and went back again in 2015, as Unit Leader of the older girl’s unit. I was responsible for counselor training, and the welfare of both the girl campers and the female counselors. When you’re practically working 24/7 for three months, the children become your entire life – everything that you do is with their needs in mind. Because of this, the children are so grateful of the time and attention that the counselors give them.
The work that Homes for the Homeless does for those kids is amazing, it really makes a difference to their lives, and I’m so glad that I have been part of it.”
Find out more about Camp Wakonda in this NY 1 News coverage video, here.
Randox wouldn’t be the innovative and caring healthcare company it is today without the hard work of young people with fresh perspectives and world experience like Amy – so we’re delighted that she has brought her enthusiasm to our team! We hope her story inspired you to take part in your community through volunteering. For us, we never stop. We’re helping to improve healthcare and diagnostics through consistent hard work, because for us, this means saving lives.
If you’re looking for a career in Business, Science or Engineering, let Randox be the next step in your adventure!
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or stay up-to-date with the hashtag #WeAreRandox. Visit our website to view our careers opportunities at Randox Laboratories.
Do you feel like you lack a little motivation? Fall back in love with your work this Monday with Randox Careers!
Even if you’re in love with your day job, we all get a little deflated sometimes! Staying positive is one of the most imperative keys to success. As Will Henry once said, “The wishbone will never replace the backbone.” Success means staying strong and working hard, and here’s Randox Careers’ top tips to staying motivated on the path to achieving your goals, even on Mondays!
1. Make Lists
Start the day by making a list of everything you want to achieve in your day ahead. Add to the list as the day goes on, and carry over anything you don’t finish. This will help you organise your thoughts, which can often make multitasking look less daunting. With lists, you can visualise your workload and feel satisfied as you tick tasks off as they’re completed!
2. Bounce Ideas
Don’t be afraid to share your ideas! Bouncing ideas off of other colleagues, have meetings, get lunch together to discuss the topic, don’t be afraid of constructive criticism. Other colleagues may be able to use their expertise to help guide you in the right direction, and add fresh perspectives to your creative thinking process
3. Breaking Your Tasks Up
Breaking your tasks up into smaller, bite-sized fragments can make your goals seem more achievable, and make you feel that little bit closer to success. Switching between these smaller tasks can also help lift a feeling of monotony and give you more variety in your work. Keeping it fresh means you might have new, creative ideas on how to approach things after you’ve stepped back. Often we see things a little bit differently from a new perspective!
4. Exercise Before Work
Wake up an hour early, and go for a jog or practice some yoga before work. Getting your blood pumping can give you a morning release of happy endorphins and get you mentally ready for the day ahead! Yoga is also notorious for mind-cleansing, helping you to clear your thoughts of all negative worries. Don’t fancy exercising before dawn? Try giving yourself more time to get ready in the morning. By doing this, you can ensure you eat a full, wholesome breakfast. Giving yourself some me-time can help prepare you for the day ahead just as well!
5. Set Your 3, 5, and 10 Year Goals
Set your goals and work towards them! Write these goals in e-mails and schedule them to be sent to yourself in 3, 5 and 10 year’s time! These can be little things, like learning another language, or bigger things like buying your first car. Make sure these goals are achievable though, as unobtainable goals can demotivate anyone.
6. Happy Positive Reinforcements!
Have you got a favourite motivational quote? Maybe it’s Theodore Roosevelt’s “Believe you can and you’re halfway there” or George Addair’s “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” Whatever your favourite motivational quote is, embrace it! Set is as your wallpaper on your phone or laptop, write it on a sticky note and place it on the wall, you could even buy a professional print online and frame it! Don’t forget to congratulate yourself, and take pride in your work. Use your mantra to keep you going and don’t forget to look back and admire your own tenacity!
7. Take a Break!
Lastly, don’t forget to rest! Let yourself relax for 5 minutes, take a walk and stretch your legs, or sit in the sun for a little while to clear your mind. You could, alternatively, clear your mind by de-cluttering your desk. Take 10 minutes to reorganise your feng-shui. Often, resetting your mind and clearing your work area can help you see answers and solutions more easily.
Follow these 7 simple steps, and you’ll be sure to have a skip in your step every Monday morning. Best of luck with the week ahead, and happy Monday!
For more, follow Randox Careers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.