Community benefits from teambuilding class|Graduate students volunteer in Davenport


By Barb Arland-Fye

DAVENPORT — St. Ambrose University graduate students in Dan Ebener’s week-long teambuilding class tested their skills on St. Patrick’s Day by doing community service projects he had organized.

Ebener undertakes the exercise several times a year with students working toward master’s degrees in business administration or organizational leadership who are randomly selected to form teams they’ll be a part of for the week. On the first day, the teams establish a name and a logo. The next two days the teams participate in activities dealing with conflict management, problem solving and other skills.

“By Thursday, the fourth day of their teambuilding week, they are ready to perform,” said Ebener, who in addition to teaching serves as the Davenport Diocese’s director of stewardship and parish planning.


All together, 17 students participated in last week’s community service effort in Davenport. Two teams comprised of nine members were assigned to painting projects at Family Resources’ Annie Wittenmyer complex.  A group of four prepared and served a meal at Café on Vine and cleaned up afterward and another four-member team cleaned the basement and garage stalls at the St. Vincent’s Center, which is the Davenport Diocese’s headquarters.

Team “O’Smileys” made a clean sweep at St. Vincent’s, finishing the assignment well ahead of time. O’Smileys’ Mary Sorgenfrey, an MBA candidate from Cedar Rapids, said puzzle pieces the team received on the first day of teambuilding class formed a smiley face. That image, coupled with the project being held on St. Patrick’s Day, provided inspiration for the team name. Team members printed the name and logo on the front of their T-shirts; on the back, a slogan: “Hey, turn that frown upside down.”

Patrick Burkhartzmeyer, an MOL candidate who works in residential life at St. Ambrose, said it was beneficial to take the idea of teambuilding and address each stage and watch it unfold.

“I think we worked well together,” said team member Mellissa Hearm, an MBA candidate and inventory management specialist at the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois. “I learned a lot about what goes on here at St. Vincent’s.”

 “We developed a bond over the last four days and learned to trust each other,” added Sorgenfrey, a financial analyst for Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids.

 “It was nice coming in here and seeing what work we had to do. We divided and conquered, took our different roles in the group,” said team member John Moretz, an MBA candidate and manufacturing engineer for John Deere in the Cedar Falls-Waterloo area.

“The work these students performed this week is exactly what we need to see,” Ebener said. “Given the shortfall of funding at all levels of government, it is all the more important that people get involved in their local communities. We simply cannot wait for government to handle our social issues.  We all need to find more ways to get personally involved.”

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