February 2017 TeamMates of the Month: Enjoy Giving Back to the Community
Lynell Placzek encourages everyone to get involved with TeamMates. “You get to just share another person’s life and that’s always a great opportunity. You kind of help each other. It’s a growing experience for both the mentor and the mentee.”
Lynell always enjoyed volunteering and participating in her three children’s school activities. As her children began to get older, she started to miss that school interaction. After listening to TeamMates co-founder, Tom Osborne, give a presentation at First Plymouth Church, Lynell decided to become a mentor. “I knew how important TeamMates was to the children and I thought that’s a great combination. I’d be helping a child and experiencing that school experience,” recalled Lynell.
Simone, a senior at Southwest, learned about TeamMates when she was in third grade. Her sister, who was in fourth grade, had a TeamMate and Simone thought it sounded like fun. “I asked my mom if I could do the same thing and she talked to the school.”
Simone was admittedly a shy third grader when she and Lynell first began meeting. Initially, they spent most of their time together playing board games or computer games. As time went on they began to spend less time playing games and more time making crafts. They have made stockings, blankets, and one year Lynell even brought her sewing machine to Simone’s school to work on a quilt. She joked, “Poor Simone, she’s taken part in a lot of my projects.” But it’s a hobby they both enjoy doing.
One of their favorite memories together include the time they were able to see The Nutcracker at the Lied Center. Lynell also loved being able to meet Simone’s family and watch her participate in church and school activities, (i.e. volleyball). Simone describes her relationship with Lynell after nine years as being “pretty hard to replace.” Over time, their relationship has grown from playing games to being comfortable talking and trusting one another.
Simone always knew she wanted to go into the medical field, but a trip she and Lynell took to a nursing home helped her decide her future career path. She plans on attending either Creighton or UNL to obtain her Bachelor’s in Nursing. She then plans to continue her education to receive her Doctorate in Nursing and become a Nurse Practitioner. Lynell knows Simone has lofty goals, but has no doubt that she’ll reach them. “I’ve seen her work ethic and I’ve admired how she’s had goals and ‘stuck with it’. Even though I’m the adult, I’ve admired the perseverance she’s displayed. She has had to do a lot of things on her own. I’ve admired the way she’s stuck to her goals.”
One passion Lynell and Simone share is giving back to the community. One of the most important lessons Simone has learned from Lynell is that “No matter what you have going on in your personal life, there’s always room to give back…you should always try to help others in any way you can.” Lynell and Simone have found many ways to do just that. Together, they’ve made cards to send to members of the military, sewed a blanket for a classmate and visited residents of a local nursing home. Simone credits Lynell for sparking her interest in volunteering, “She really inspired me to get involved in the community.”