Welcome Our New Prevention VISTA!
Hello! I hope this blog post finds you well.
My name is Austin Regier, and I recently started as a Prevention VISTA with the Community Engagement Institute prevention team. With the hope of expediting rapport and building relationships, here’s a bit about myself:
I grew up on a hog farm East of Newton, KS in what I have since deemed to be a fairly typical Mennonite farming family. After high school, I lived in Asunción, Paraguay for a year, where I volunteered at a day shelter for people living with HIV/AIDS. I then went on to Bethel College, where I studied and received degrees in Social Work and Religion. This June, I started a Master’s of Social Work program at the University of Kansas. My role here at CEI will serve as my Master’s level practicum. Interests of mine include hiking in the Colorado Rockies and playing bluegrass music with my family.
My Role at CEI
It being my second official week here at CEI, I must admit that I do not know exactly what my role will entail. I have also never worked in the area of prevention (it has been an exciting and steep learning curve thus far). However, some potential tasks that have been discussed and that excite me include connecting with prevention coalitions across the state, engaging with community partners, and developing new methods of prevention education to reach out to youth/adolescents. I am eager to dig into something new, and excited to bring, as Randy Johnson would say, “fresh eyes” to CEI (I would maybe lean towards “inexperienced” or “naïve” as adjectives for my eyes, but hey, we are strengths based here)!
What I Care About
I have a strong interest in how ethics, religion, and spirituality are intertwined with prevention work. I think that, religious or not, every person has something that they find to be sacred or, as Paul Tillich would say, of ultimate concern. I am interested in probing into how prevention work can engage the sacred and that of ultimate concern. Population wise, I have a specific interest in working with youth/adolescents as well as those in the “correctional” system.
On perhaps a more fundamental level, I am passionate about people! I feel a moral responsibility to spend my energy doing what I can to better the lives of others. I believe acting through love (or beneficence, if you prefer—I think love is a more nuanced and powerful term) as a cardinal value allows for the most effective relationship building, and, as Helen Harris Perlman noted, relationship is the heart of helping people. I believe that building relationships—be that individual relationships, group relationships, or community relationships—is a powerful tool for change.
Manifested in practice, I hope these ideals allow me to engage with communities and individuals with benevolence, respect, and humility. I hope that my interests (and perhaps my “fresh eyes”) will allow me to pursue new avenues for prevention work. I hope that I can be passionate enough to engage fully, bold enough to try new things, and humble enough to learn from those who have gone before me; those with the wisdom that experience brings. Ultimately, my hope is that I am able to be a part of the teams and organizations and coalitions that are already engaged in this work. I am excited for what the coming year will bring.