Going with the Flow

Sometimes you just have to go with the flow- especially when you work in a non profit. I learned this during this past week. As a recent college graduate of a school in which students were very competitive, “stress” has been second nature to me, whether I wanted it to be or not. Fortunately, these past few years I have learned to only focus on competing with myself, striving to produce better outcomes than I did the previous day. However, even this strategy does not save me from “stress.”

So, if you recall during Week 1, I mentioned how I was assigned the duty of putting on a large-scale fundraising event for my organization. Well, at this point, I have less than 2 weeks until the event! When I noticed the calendar date during the middle of Week 3, I immediately felt overwhelmed. I had been working on the event everyday, completing licenses, making several calls, emails, and even visits to businesses, trying to get them to participate in our event. I even made the uncomfortable trip of trekking to the Columbus Police Department in the pouring rain to get something signed. Nevertheless, I am not sure where the time went. I felt as though I had been doing everything right, trying my best to tackle the most urgent priorities.

Nervously, I went to my supervisor and told her my feelings. I even came prepared with a sticky note that outlined a Plan B and Plan C in case every thing was not solidified for the event by its date. When I explained to her what I was feeling she immediately replied, “Welcome to event planning” with a laugh. To my surprise, she told me that she was okay if everything does not work out for Plan A and that it can still be a successful event. She assured me that she was not worried and her response quickly alleviated any feeling of being overwhelmed that I was carrying.

Being open and candid with my boss about my work experience helped me to freely enjoy the rest of what CCH offers outside of my day to day duties. For instance, one day after work on Week 3 I stayed after and watched our Transit Arts youth program perform dance, spoken word, and do live painting. I also attended an info session about the new playground that is about to be built for the children and even told my supervisor that I was willing to help build it! (I do not know how to build anything.)

I am grateful for having a supervisor that is so easy to talk to and knows the importance of going with the flow. There are too many opportunities of learning at CCH for me to put off because I am “stressed” about another agenda item. I put “stressed” in quotations, because sometimes I am not truly stressed. Sometimes, I just need to step back and re-evaluate my purpose. My goal is to move forward with planning this event with the same tenacity that I possessed in the beginning, but being gentle with myself when things do not turn out according to plan. Dealing with the unexpected is the best way to sharpen my event planning skills as well as add excitement to the work I do.

After my talk with my supervisor, I saw her in the parking lot after work and she asked “Still overwhelmed?” I confidently replied “No.”

(Attached, is a picture of a blueprint for the playground that one of the youth drew. Notice the bongos in the right-bottom corner!)20170622_171659

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Week 3

 

This week I got a better sense of the project, which data points are available, and some of the possible implications that may arise in analyzing the data. For example, someone may be paying their rent on time but could still be evicted for over occupancy, property damage, poor housekeeping, causing nuisance, and more. This could skew the analysis of the Gifts of Kindness program, as a Gifts of Kindness grant may have successfully prevented someone from a non-payment eviction, but not a different type of eviction. As I listen to people involved in the process, I’m beginning to understand how truly complex the issue is. There are so many factors and circumstances that are specific to each person, which will cause challenges in evaluating the success of the program.

I also had the opportunity to attend one of the home readiness workshops that Homeport provides. Homeport offers a variety of classes related to financial health and home ownership to help people become financially stable and attain permanent housing. The home readiness workshop that I attended focused on the initial steps in preparing to buy a home, and was followed by a one-on-one session with a housing advisor to discuss the client’s current situation and needs. The client who attended the workshop expressed that she had never learned this information before, and that it gave her a whole new understanding of what she could do to move towards owning home.

Each day here comes with an immense amount of new knowledge. Even in passing conversations throughout the office I am able to learn more about people’s experiences at Homeport. Keeping an open mind and a listening ear is essential to learning and serving, and remembering the people behind the data I’m using will help to build a complete picture of the struggles that too many Columbus residents face.

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Permeating Non-Profit Operations

This week I’d like to share with you a few events where I was able to permeate the operations of a small non-profit. To refresh everyone’s memory, my name is Jake and I am working with Green Columbus throughout the duration of the Columbus Foundation Summer Fellowship. This week I was able to participate in some small, yet very important events that define how a small non-profit operates.

First, I was able to sit in on a meeting with a potential future partner for Green Columbus’ Earth Day celebration: COSI. My supervisor and I met with some representatives of COSI to discuss a potential partnership moving forward. COSI has an amazing facility, and is currently constructing a new park outside of their organization; not only will this space be perfect for hosting Green Columbus’ Earth Day celebration, but also COSI’s partnership will further the education aspect of the event. This meeting was an incredible experience for me, as I was able to participate in the beginning of a promising sustainable partnership between two organizations.

Second, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity of sitting in on an executive board meeting for Green Columbus. By participating in this meeting, I was able to see the “backbone” of the organization at full working capacity. It was awesome to see young professionals collaborating to create an effective agenda in respect to moving forward with the organization.

Third, I had the chance to attend an event to celebrate the merging of the county and city’s Land Bank departments. The event was an excellent experience for learning how to professionally network with environmental leaders in the Columbus area. A lot of times, we only learn how to network; but it was nice to put what I’ve learned into practice at an actual event.

All-in-all, this past week was filled with great experiences and opportunities for learning about the operations of a non-profit. I hope next week is just as informational.

– Jake

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Week 3

The theme of the week: productively waiting.

This week felt pretty stagnant at DSC. The two weeks prior were dedicated to preparing for the 2017 Buckeye Golf Classic and to sending out our Request for Proposal (RFP) to prospective marketing firms. This week, however, felt very in-between. I attended a couple meetings and discussed future projects with my supervisor, the Director of Development, Amy. It included a lot of, “Ok what does DSC need?” and, “How can I practically help?” Amy and I came up with some filler projects for me to work on: social media, the brochure, data integration, and shadowing other departments.

The biggest challenge has been being productive in marketing before working with a firm. The RFP included a request for a marketing evaluation as well as a branding campaign. I do have a background in content marketing, but I am definitely not a designer. After recently transitioning to a new website platform, there is a lot of work to be done. I reached out to our Marketing Director, Marsha Moore, and asked her permission to begin copy-editing the website content. She agreed and I began editing the text of the website.

I learned a lot about how work consists of projects and the space in between. I could just spend my time curling my hair between my fingers before we begin our marketing project… or I could find ways to kick start the process. From the beginning of week one at DSC, I knew I wanted to offer as much of myself as I could during the time I am here. Ten weeks is truly not a copious amount of time, but I want to make a lasting difference somehow. That mentality takes a lot of work, and creativity, to insure my work is meaningful. For now, this means learning DSC’s website and brainstorming ways to improve. Wording, and rewording content. Collecting and condensing information.

There are some weeks that move fast and some that move slow. It is all about finding ways to do quality work, even when work lacks quantity.

 

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Week Three – Monsters!

Summer Art Workshops began last week and I received my first opportunity to act as coordinator. The theme of my first workshop was Magical Beasts and How to Make Them. The teaching artist, Mark, has taught SAW before, which I found helpful because he was able to assist me in finding a routine. The projects in this workshop surrounded the idea of making monsters and beasts found in the Harry Potter book series.

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My favorite experiences during the week were when we took the children around the museum to explore, discuss art, and find inspiration. If you are familiar with Harry Potter, you may remember the Maurader’s Map – a magical map that displays peoples’ whereabouts inside of Hogwarts. Students took a walk around the museum and created an outline of their very own Maurader’s Map of CMA. During this walk, we spent time analyzing the artwork.

It was neat to learn how to engage 4th and 5th grade students in gallery artwork. I found that asking questions such as, “What do you think the characters are saying to one another?” or “Or do you think that women is happy or sad and why?” got an excited response from the students. The questions help the students create a story or meaning behind a work that may otherwise be hard for them to decipher. The art that the students found most interesting or that they labeled as their “favorite” often was 3D and used mixed media.

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I was further reminded that 4th and 5th grade age students can handle mature topics and complex emotions in paintings. One work depicted a war scene in which one man was in the act of killing another. Although obviously violent, the students could pick out the subtleties of the work such as the group of observers passively watching the scene.

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Well, it’s officially the beginning of my fourth week at LeaderSpark, and you know what that means… I’m already behind on blog posts!! So consider this one your catch all for weeks 2 & 3. And I promise I’ll try to be better 🙂

Week Two was a lot, a lot, a LOT of tying up loose ends that we didn’t know we had with the Achieve Summer Work Program (to refresh your memory, this is the program we are partnering to put on with the Boys & Girls Club of Columbus). This means that I was back and forth again quite a bit, but it was really great to start building relationships with not only the people working with LeaderSpark, but also the humans working on the other half of the program from B&G Club. I’m a pretty heavily relationship focused person, so new people and strangers are just friends I haven’t met yet!

But I have to admit, the best part of Week Two was definitely on Tuesday. I stayed later that day than I usually do and went with my boss, Kay, to the Juvenile Detention Center downtown. LeaderSpark does a program with the youth there each week, and even just sitting in on the program was such a neat experience. I love being a part of this organization– these incredible people that show so much compassion and love for youth that other people have turned their backs on. I am in the right place. I am exactly where I’m supposed to be, and Tuesday really confirmed that for me.

So Week Three! What a time! I spent Week Three doing odds and ends tasks for Kay and Solomon, but one that took the majority of the week was researching and adding a resource to LeaderSpark’s website. Kay came to me with the mission of making our webpage into a resource for the community, so (per quite a bit of work that she had done before my time) I added a drop down menu on the website in which community members can find support throughout the Columbus community if they are bored, homeless, hungry, on a college-career path, a parent, and so much more. I’m really hoping that the community takes advantage of this because it’s literally a one stop shop for all kinds of support.

I just want to say one more time, too, how much I appreciate working for an organization that cares so deeply about people. Man, is that cool.

 

Until next week, my friends

Sam

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Week 3: “Strangers are friends we have yet to meet.”

As you scroll through the Columbus Fellowship blog, the following quote seems to appear in almost every reflection, “It’s hard to believe that I have only been working with this organization for 3 weeks”…well folks, my experience with Hope Hollow thus far, provokes the same feeling.

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I mentioned in my last blog how Kevin and Jane Clark, the founders of Hope Hollow, have welcomed me with open arms, and I could not be more grateful for the hospitality I have received. Additionally, these past two weeks I have been in awe over the fact that the individuals we serve have also allowed me to enter into their lives. Jane reminds me almost everyday of the sacred grounds we have the honor of walking on when these “strangers” allow us to be a small part of their journey while battling cancer.

I would like to share a little insight into some of my experiences by sharing a story:

A little over a week ago, I attended my first board meeting. As the night wrapped up and the board members left, I was debriefing the details of the meeting with Kevin and Jane when Kevin’s phone rang. A man, whom Kevin had met earlier in the week while dropping off a gasoline gift card, called to ask for advice and to simply speak to someone. His girlfriend of over 20 years was dying of cancer. The couple also had a 10 year old son, and the man was unsure of how to approach telling the little boy that is mother was most likely not going to recover from her illness.

I listened intently to the phone call, as Kevin and Jane consoled and advised this stranger on how they suggested he approach this delicate situation. Two weeks have passed since this phone call, and it has not left my mind since. Hope Hollow, aka Kevin and Jane, opened their hearts to a total stranger by offering him emotional support when he needed it most. By sharing personal experiences of their own, shedding tears with him, and offering reassurance of the strength he could find, they talked to him on the phone for over an hour. His girlfriend passed away days after this phone call but the man continued to thank Hope Hollow for the courage that phone call gave him. He was able to have those difficult conversations with his son and partner so that no regret was felt and nothing was left unsaid. I am so humbled by the fact that so many individuals feel comfortable enough to call Hope Hollow during their time of need.

The story above is only one testimony of Hope Hollow impacting the lives of strangers, who ultimately become friends.

3 weeks down, and 7 more to go! I am beyond eager to continue contributing to Hope Hollow this summer.

Week 3, you have taught me a number of things:

  1. That hope is crucial during times of struggle.
  2. The relationships you build with individuals and families you serve, can impact you even more than you are impacting them.
  3. If you work with Kevin you will most definitely receive a million phone calls, and possibly an occasional Skype call (Hi Kevin!).

Hope Hollow Website

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