On “Empathetic Partners”: Reflecting on A Talk with a Tyson Chaplain

Caylin Craig

American Dream Leader 2016


For better or worse, American culture places great emphasis on the power of the individual. Throughout my college career, I have continuously asked myself: “What impact do I want to have in my community? What is it that I value?” I am glad I asked myself these questions, because the answers have led me to who I am today—an American Dream Leader. I know that I strongly value each individual's inalienable right to build a safe and prosperous life for themselves and their family, and New Americans are no exception to this value. What I did not understand prior to becoming an American Dream Leader was how to transfer my values and skills to achieve something tangible in my community.

This gap in my understanding began to evolve with my first day at The Cisneros Center in Springdale, AR. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the people I found completely exceeded my expectations: a group of driven, kind, and diverse young people who are completely ready to dedicate their skills towards advancing our community. So with these first few meetings, I felt like I was beginning to understand how great things get accomplished--through a group of strong individuals. Then Kevin Scherer came to one of our meetings.

Mr. Scherer works as a Tyson Chaplain in Springdale, AR and describes his role in Tyson plants as a mix of "a chaplain and a social worker.” He reached a wall in his work where he alone could not help people who were struggling, and faced a difficult decision on how to continue. After choosing to carry on, he immersed himself further into our Northwest Arkansas community to find what he calls “empathetic partners.” These are partners with a shared value that seek to understand and support one another's goals. When Mr. Scherer described The Cisneros Center as one of his empathetic partners, I immediately felt proud to be in the room.

Through creating a conversation with members of our immigrant community, meeting with other non-profits, or partnering with local businesses, the Cisneros Center has found a strong web of empathetic partnerships in the NWA community. I understand now that I as an individual do not have much impact, but as a member of the American Dream Leaders I can play a significant role in creating a useful online tool that will connect our immigrant community members to the services they need. In short, my American Dream is to be a part of a community that continuously strives to empower each of its members--whether the individual is a descendent of ten generations of Americans or first generation.

Cisneros Center for New Americans


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