Convergence

Week 7 of my summer as a Columbus Foundation summer fellow at Homeport was all about convergence.  During a crazy week filled with learning sessions, backpack stuffings, produce distributions, and Business Process Management I saw so many things that have defined my summer come together.  First and foremost my main project of documenting the processes and procedures of Homeport’s Volunteer Engagement has progressed at warp speed; I have now reached page 78 of my single spaced document and I still have plenty left to write! This major project that seemed like such a daunting task at the beginning of the summer is now taking shape and I can see the end product fast approaching.  More importantly, however, I have begun to take on more and more responsibility in leading the events and processes I am writing about.  The backpack stuffings are under way and we have stuffed 457 backpacks to date! Not only are we continually adjusting and preparing for more backpack stuffings, but we are now preparing for our backpack distribution events in August, at which the children will receive their new backpacks and school supplies and participate in fun activities.  I have been tasked with preparing back to school related crafts to go along with their new backpacks, so I’m preparing locker picture frames, beaded key chains, and a decorating station where kids can spice up their new folders/binders they receive in their backpacks.

With everything converging and taking shape in the backpack realm it’s easy to forget everything else that continues to run within Volunteer Programs.  On Wednesday we put on another Produce Market at one of our rental communities in partnership with the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.  No matter how busy we are preparing to distribute backpacks, everything stops in order to help provide free, fresh, and healthy food for our residents and their children; food that is much needed during the summer months, in which many children lack access to healthy food since they are not receiving school provided meals.

On top of the Backpack Drives and the Produce Markets I am still doing research on volunteer orientation best practices in order to make recommendations for improvement of Homeport’s volunteer orientation processes.  This aspect of my summer project has allowed me to visit other non-profits and witness the great work they are doing in the community.  Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Ronald McDonald House volunteer orientation.  Not only was it great to see their volunteer practices and tour their incredible facilities, but it was really fun to see another summer fellow’s work first hand.  I got to see the things Sean has been doing with Ronald McDonald House and have a clearer view of the impact we as a group of summer fellows is having on the community.

Another point of convergence I experienced this last week was exposure to another fellow’s summer project through my dad, of all people.  My dad runs the community garden at our church on the East side and is a member of the Greater Columbus Growing Coalition.  He came home one night this week to inform me that he had received an invitation to attend an event put on by the Mid-Ohio Foodbank to raise awareness about hunger and the impact community gardens can make.  The invitation was from none other than Colleen, their CF summer fellow.  It has been so fun to see people’s projects impacting the community at large and to experience the convergence of all of our great work this summer.  The next three weeks are going to fly by but I’m so excited to witness further points of convergence and experience the impact we can make on the community together.

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A New Arrival

It is very rare that I get to accompany a client starting from their arrival in the US and then taking them through the entire resettlement process of finding an apartment, delivering the home supplies kit, going to the furniture bank and going to Franklin County, but this week was the closest I have come. Unfortunately I had a doctor’s appointment on Friday and was unable to help with the airport pickup, but everything else I have been able to do. I worked closely with the new arrival’s US tie named Fadumo. Fadumo’s brother and his family are the arrivals coming from Ethiopia and she wanted EVERYTHING to be ready by the time her brother, his wife, and his 7 children arrived. Fadumo has been in the US for more than 15 years and her family and her sons have been quite successful, so she was dead set on making sure her brother’s family living standards matched hers. She is a strong woman who knows wheat she wants and when she wants it done and was a pleasure to work with this past week. She wants to get an apartment for her brother’s family in Blacklick, but in the mean time she spruced up the temporary two apartments that they would be living in, working throughout the day bringing in rugs, curtains, and picking out furniture from the Furniture Bank that met her standards all while fasting for Ramadan! Here are some pics of the apartment:20140716_162359

This apartment was bare before Fadumo came through and she decked it out in as traditionally Somali as possible AKA dark shades and oriental rugs

This apartment was bare before Fadumo came through and she decked it out in as traditionally Somali as possible AKA dark shades and oriental rugs

Here my boss Hannah and I are attempting to assemble a Queen size box spring without directions (yes we were successful).

Here my boss Hannah and I are attempting to assemble a Queen size box spring without directions (yes we were successful).


Fadumo’s brother Abdihamid and his family are extremely lucky to have this kind of support before arriving in America. Most of our clients either don’t have any family or if they do they don’t have enough money to deck out their rented apartment or find them a new living space in a nice area of town. This arrival is about as perfect as they come, especially when it is a large family of nine. Next week the whole family will be taken for health screenings and to apply for social security at Franklin County.
Here I am standing next to Fadumo's sister-in-law Hawo and next to her is the  legend herself, Fadumo

Here I am standing next to Fadumo’s sister-in-law Hawo and next to her is the legend herself, Fadumo

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Welcome to Athens!

One of the Boys and Girls Clubs National programs is Diplomas to Degrees, a college preparation program. Therefore the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus travels to different colleges to expose our teen members to different campuses! This past Friday we traveled to Athens, OH for Ohio University’s Summer Showcase! Let me preface this by saying I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, The Ohio State University, but it was really nice to visit another campus and expose the members to different facets of higher education!

Oh you know, just chilling in front of Crawford Hall!

Oh you know, just chilling in front of Crawford Hall!

The day began with a general overview of the program, a welcome to campus, and an explanation of the admissions process conducted by their Director of Admissions. After the opening session we had the option of attending several academic sessions ranging from Biological Sciences, to Engineering, to Communications. While we were supposed to attend the Engineering session we went to the wrong room at ended up in the session for the Scripps School of Journalism. This was a great presentation to attend because OU’s School of Journalism is one of the best in the nation! I learned that they have a partnership with the Miss Universe Pageant and have several students intern with them. Additionally, they sent some photojournalism students to Brazil for the World Cup!

After the academic session we ate lunch…that is definitely an understatement! We feasted! It reminded me of my days at OSU and Sunday brunch at North Commons! One of the teens asked, “Can we get seconds?” I had to keep myself from laughing because I always get seconds at college cafeterias! We ended the day with a tour of their new union and a residence hall!

And now we feast!

And now we feast!

Tour of the union!

Tour of the union!

The trip was great! The students were really excited to get out of Columbus and see something new. It also started the important dialogue about college. Although most of them were in 8th or 9th grade it is never too early to talk about college! They asked several questions to the admissions representatives, myself, and other students about life in college.

Campus

Campus

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I can’t believe I only have 3 weeks left! Next week, I will have to wrap up the rest of the Brain Gain evaluations, prepare to train other staff to conduct the post-assessments after I leave, and go to Nationwide Insurance for another field trip!

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Giving & Golf

The registration table at Scioto Reserve

The registration table at Scioto Reserve

This seventh week started out in an exciting flurry at the Ronald McDonald House Charities 25th Annual Joe Mortellaro Golf Classic. This charity golf outing, which is annually put on by the Ronald McDonald House, is the biggest golf outing in all of Ohio. With a total of four different golf courses and an expected 400 golfers, the event on June 17th was one of the biggest and most successful fundraisers that I have ever been a part of! The golf courses that were featured at this years outing included Scioto Reserve, Tartan Fields, Wedgewood and the Country Club at Muirfield. Following an afternoon filled with golf, a banquet at Scioto Reserve featured live music, dinner, silent auction and desserts. The Honorary Chair of the event this year was OSU Coach Thad Matta, who later spoke at the reception along with OSU Coach Urban Meyer.

Coach Thad Matta speaking at the banquet in Scioto Reserve

Coach Thad Matta speaking at the banquet in Scioto Reserve

My first role at the outing started early in the morning, where I sat at a registration table with fellow interns and volunteers to welcome the golfers to Scioto Reserve Country Club. Even though that morning was a little dreary and rainy, I had a great time checking in some notable and influential people from Central Ohio. Numerous McDonald’s operators, famous athletes and businessman waded through the weather to come to Powell, OH.

This role lasted until around 11:00 AM, upon which my fellow intern Jillian and I drove a golf cart out to hole 13. This new role was a mini-fundraising event called “Clowning Around”. The whole purpose of this mini fundraiser was to have the golfers pay $10.00 per person or $25.00 per foursome to put on a clown wig and nose. If they did all of these things then they could move up one tee. This was particularly important as hole 13 had a par 5. Only two foursomes didn’t support the house in this way, so I feel that Jillian and I succeeded in working this station. I can also say that we had an absolute BLAST clowning around with the golfers! The only downside of this station was hanging out in the sun without sunscreen (which I forgot) for four hours. I only got slightly sunburnt so it was a nice change from sitting at my desk for hours at end.

Jillian and I clowning around!

Jillian and I clowning around!

The final part of my day at Scioto Reserve consisted of working the banquet event. This final part of the golf outing featured a fantastic live band, delicious food and a delightfully open bar. I wouldn’t really call this part of the evening ‘work’ as I was able to mingle with co-workers and golfers while eating some scrumptious food. My favorite dish was definitely the pan-seared scallops that were served with Cajun Southern grits. The dessert bar near the end of the night was also exquisite with fudgy brownies and slightly tangy lemon bars. Soon after the closing remarks, I helped to clean up the entire event by packing the McVan with boxes upon boxes. Overall, I can say that I had a great time helping out at the 25th Annual Joe Mortellaro Golf Classic! I know that from a fundraising standpoint the event was a success and I believe that it was also successfully enjoyable for everyone who participated. I only hope that when I get a job at a non-profit organization, that I can be a part of or help to put on an event just as successful as this one!

Another golfer clowning around with a Ronald's shoe putter head cover

Another golfer clowning around with a Ronald’s shoe putter head cover

Dad & Son golfers clowning around!

Dad & Son golfers clowning around!

Coach Thad Matta speaking at the banquet in Scioto Reserve

Coach Thad Matta speaking at the banquet in Scioto Reserve

Jillian and I with Ronald McDonald!

Jillian and I with Ronald McDonald!

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Finding (and Breaking) the Routine

The craziest thing about working at a camp is that it is essentially the same every day and every week.  It starts with morning sign-in and name tag drama (“I can’t find mine!” “Mine won’t stick!”), then a flurry of morning classes where paint, fluff, and clay fly, then everyone’s favorite part of the day (bar the complaints that we are having pretzels, not goldfish)…snack! Then lunches are consumed at the speed of light, and all the lunchtime toys and games are dispersed to all four corners of the room. Then, in the afternoon, I coerce everyone to clean up, and then we repeat it all over again, ending with a speedy but efficient clean-up of our classroom spaces and set-up to get ready for the next day.  In that sense, I’ve plateaued a bit – I know what I am doing on a daily basis, I am generally prepared for the projects that are going on, and I can kind of go on auto-pilot through the day.

But in another sense, each day is totally unique and brings its own set of challenges and adventures. Each week the campers and teen volunteers change the personality of camp.  Last week, both the teens and the campers were pretty energetic and really loud.  Great kids, but they definitely wore me out.  This week, we have a quieter, more focused group with great creative energy.  I got to teach this week, helping the campers make pillows that looked their dream houses, and I really enjoyed getting to see their creative minds in action and see their focus and dedication to their projects.  But each week brings its own crises as well, like the water bottle that spilled over a whole shelf of art, or the supplies that were supposed to last two days only lasting one, or a type of clay not working as expected.

It’s these type of challenges that keep me on my toes and keep it interesting each and every day.  We are officially at the half way point of our Young Masters Camp series (2.5 sessions down, 2.5 sessions to go!), and we have no camp next week, so it’s a great chance to recharge our batteries before the final haul. I know I’m looking forward to a quiet week!

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Creating Awareness

Being engaged in community relations, and helping to develop partnerships and foster collaboration between the Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio, and other key community stakeholders is another area of involvement for the nature of my fellowship. Through collaborative and collective efforts among organizations and agencies, various social and economic disparities within the Columbus community have been addressed. Addressing issues related to access to healthcare, health, and wellness in the community has been a growing and ongoing focus here in Franklin County. Consequently, this has been evident through the formation of the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force and other community initiatives focused on addressing unique challenges related to health and education in Franklin County, and ways to discover opportunities for change. The Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio is involved in these ongoing discussions. Accordingly, last week, I had meetings at Columbus Public Health with Assistant Health Commissioner, Medical Director Dr. Mysheika Williams Roberts, Kelli Hykes, Director of Public Health Policy at Columbus Public Health, and also Nichole Dunn, President and CEO of The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. The meetings at Columbus Public Health provided me with a better understanding of various initiatives and programs within the community that are in place to address concerns with health and access to healthcare. Correspondingly, in the meeting with Nichole Dunn, who was an appointed member of the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force, we discussed a range of issues related to access in the community, with a focus on women and girls. From all meetings, there will be future conversations related to health awareness, collaboration and development.

Dr. Mysheika Williams Roberts, Assistant Health Commissioner, Medical Director of Columbus Public Health and I.

Dr. Mysheika Williams Roberts and I. Dr. Roberts is the Assistant Health Commissioner, Medical Director of Columbus Public Health.

I really enjoyed the Etiquette Luncheon at The Columbus Foundation a couple weeks ago. And, over the weekend, I was able to put my dinner etiquette skills to the test. While in Cleveland, OH, I went to Pier W, which is a restaurant that overlooks Lake Erie. I enjoyed Lobster Bisque, Wild Alaskan Salmon and Steamed Vegetables, and Cheesecake. I’m glad I could work on polishing my dinner etiquette, and I look forward to what Learning Session is in place this week at The Columbus Foundation!

Practiced my dinner etiquette at Pier W in Lakewood, OH. Pictured: Lobster Bisque, Wild Alaskan Salmon and Steamed Vegetables.

Lobster Bisque, Wild Alaskan Salmon and Steamed Vegetables from Pier W in Lakewood, OH.

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Cognitive Bandwidth

The shed broke. All of that time spent putting up a shed last week to have a weekend of rain and the structure is toast! Granted we didn’t have the roof on because it required more expertise and time but still, I am a little bummed. I drove into work yesterday in a torrential storm with the sheds walls flimsily hyperextended, only 5 screws holding in each piece of it. I think it will be more of a long-term project than a quick task now.

Other than the shed mishap, the job is going really well. I am staying busy and interested in what I do and that is key for my happiness in a job. I am now inputting some of the data collected from the surveys that I did at the produce markets. It is really interesting to see the results. The surveys ask questions about what resources the clients would want to receive information on at each site. Ideally we would be able to have a general idea for each location what that specific population wants and needs in terms of services and information on resources that they can access. I recently was listening to an NPR story yesterday about a young woman in New York City who has a child and it living day to day on poverty. The article was about cognitive bandwidth and explained the taxing mental stress that being in poverty has on your brain. It actually inhibits you from being able to think long term or remember things well. What this woman says is her biggest regret is going on welfare when she first well into the situation because she didn’t take the time to look into all of the options she had in terms of what services she should apply for, what the stipulations were for each one etc. She ended up applying for cash assistance but this program requires you attend job training every day. This merely added to her stress and hurt her ability to get out of the poverty she was in in the first place because she would have to sacrifice school and a job to attend these sessions daily just to get a $142 check twice a month, much needed supplemental income.

Not having information or knowing all of the options is especially dangerous for people in poverty because they are so mentally and physically stressed. It is harder to think long term when you have to survive day to day. These resources I am hoping to provide information on are extremely important because the odds that clients will find them on their own is very unlikely and we have the contacts of great social workers at the foodbank that can help them navigate the complicated welfare and social services system. I am hoping that the data I collect and analyze will lead to a better use and efficiency of the services provided.

Story on NPR below:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/07/14/330434597/this-is-your-stressed-out-brain-on-scarcity

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