A Week Later…

Hello, hello! So, this is end. The final blog, the final pictures, the final witty (or so I thought) words for my summer. Let’s rewind a few days aallll the way back to August 5th.

Long story short, it was amazing and beautiful and just about everything went according to plan. Now, you may be thinking, “What Ana? What was so amazing?”. Well! The 6th Annual Youth Summit, of course! My final project, the one I had dedicated this summer to, was a complete success and everyone had a blast, adults included.

The morning session was dedicated to thanking all those who helped ETSS create this amazing day for the youth. To name a few, Ramona Reyes, Columbus Board of Education, Councilmember Shannon Hardin, City of Columbus, Dr. Cimbolic, ODU, and many more. To keep the youth involved, I had been going to each site and practicing with 2 selected youth the week of. These selected youth were to speak during the morning session, whether it was introducing a key person, or thanking a sponsor, they all did wonderful and I was/am so proud of them! After the morning session, I was able to help everyone set up for lunch before leaving.

I ran over to the Columbus Foundation and gave my presentation on my summer. It was a nice break to the day and it was great to give a quick run down of all the great projects I had been able to be a part of during the summer with ETSS. After that, I ran back over to ODU (where the Youth Summit’s afternoon session was beginning). For this part of the day, the youth were to be outside from about 12:30pm to 2:30pm. In the past the heat had been a huge factor and discomfort. So! For this year, I made sure to have tents, and water jugs to make the heat bearable. I was able to acquire 4 tents for the youth, 1 giant tent for the DJ and about 8, 5 gallon water jugs. By the end of the day, the youth were throwing water at each other, safe to say we had enough water for them to drink and more, haha. The last event was for the 4 sites to perform their cultural dance and/or song. Peep some pictures below.:)

All in all, this summer was the most incredible experience I’ve ever had. I never felt like I was working (except when I did haha) and I never thought twice about staying and extra hour or so to make sure things turned out perfect. I’ve completely fallen in love with this organized and will be returning to work for the after-school program they provide. It’s so crazy a few months ago I didn’t even know ETSS existed and now they’ve sucked me in. And none of it would have been possible with the Columbus Foundation and this fellowship! A million, “Thank you”‘s to everyone who helps make this program possible and never, ever end it!

BTW, check out ETSS for more pictures and future events.:)

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The Final Blog

Well, this is it.

My time as a Columbus Foundation Fellow has officially come to an end, and with that, I think it’s only fair that I reflect a bit on my experiences, in the form of a little list:

  1. Don’t be afraid to take on more responsibilities. As an intern, it was difficult for me to find my place within an already tight-knit workplace. But the more people I reached out to, the more friendly faces I created around me, and the more diverse experiences I gained. Asking for more work felt awkward at first, but paid off a thousandfold in the end. If you’re a future Fellow and you’re reading this post–DON’T FEEL BAD ABOUT ASKING FOR MORE WORK!
  2. Enjoy the journey. As a rising junior at Ohio State, I’d be the first to admit that I often get very caught up in thinking about “what’s next?!” I often find myself trying to figure out how to best check all the figurative boxes in my life. But this summer, I realized the importance of just taking a step back to really enjoy all the small amazing moments that occur every day. It makes you feel way more satisfied if you focus on what makes you happy each day rather than worrying about what you’ll be doing tomorrow, or how you’ll fix that issue that might pop up in a few weeks.
  3. Learn as many new things as you can. Before this summer, I was the friend who calls you when you’re studying at the library because I can’t figure out how to work the TV remote. Let’s just say that technology is… often not my friend. But this summer, I spent my time utterly surrounded by technology, conjuring up spreadsheets and working with Excel more than I ever thought possible. And it was FUN! Stepping out of my comfort zone made me learn that I actually do have skills in the computer realm, and I’m excited to pursue these more in the future.
  4. Be nice. One of KIPP’s most famous mottoes is “Work Hard. Be Nice.” While this is a great set of phrases to instill in young students, I think it’s also just a great mantra for everyone in life. Not only should you always give things your best try, but you should also focus on being a good person. It’s an invaluable trait to have in the workplace and just as a human being. And it absolutely shapes the culture at KIPP, where each person is both hardworking and kind, and the type of person you just want to be around.

I can’t believe the fellowship has ended, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. Thank you so much to both the Columbus Foundation and KIPP Columbus for being incredibly welcoming, kind, and wonderful mentors, as well as to my fellow Fellows, a truly remarkable and inspiring set of women.

(Pictured below, some Faces of the Fellows from our final luncheon: Anna, Kerigan, myself, Katie, and Kathleen.)

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The Road to Unexpected Change

I intended to get my final blog post up on August 4 – my final day at The Center for Balanced Living. However, with many goodbyes to say and good luck conversations with those who I have worked alongside for the past ten weeks, I didn’t want to place this task before these relationships.

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So then I intended to get this blog post up yesterday on August 5 – my final day as a Summer Fellow where we each presented in front of our co-workers, supervisors, Summer Fellowship advisors, a few selection committee members and other staff members from The Columbus Foundation.

But here I am, on August 6 (I am obviously having a hard time letting go (:) and can no longer call myself a Summer Fellow. As sad as that sounds and as sad as I am that this summer rapidly flew by, yesterday was as sweet as an ending as it could be. Waking up this morning in the period between that send-off and life’s next adventures, I am feeling thankful, confident and excited with a hefty dose of nostalgia.

We sat in the room where it all began but this time, the introductions between us fellows turned into introductions between us and leaders at their nonprofits as well as those at The Columbus Foundation who took time out of their day to listen to our summer journey. Being able to watch and laugh with (I may be referring to Demi and Kathleen’s selfies) these ladies as they shared their growth and achievements made me so thankful to have been surrounded by brilliant, hard working and encouraging women. This may sound overly cheesy but I was truly proud of each fellow, especially as I had a bit more insight on the challenges they faced and their day-to-day success stories from our learning sessions and excursions together.

In my presentation, I discussed a bit of history from the date I learned that I made it to the “second round”, my interview in January and the day when I found out I had been selected.   Looking back, I can only laugh at myself who thought I had a good grasp on what I wanted to do with my life after graduating from Otterbein. The 19th slide on my Pecha Kucha was dedicated to my (still pending) next step ahead. I am completing my majors in Health Communication and Public Relations but am highly considering getting my master’s in dietetics to become a registered dietitian.

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If you told me that ten weeks ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. But ten action-packed weeks of personal and professional growth and new friends and mentors can truly change a person. Thank you to The Columbus Foundation and The Center for Balanced Living for instilling this change in me! This summer has easily been one of the best experiences of my life and the nonprofit sector and Columbus have stole my heart yet again.

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Well that’s it, folks

It feels as if I blinked and the ten weeks passed. To try and sum up my fellowship would be impossible, but if I could use one word to describe my experience it would be nourishing. According to Merriam-Webster, nourish can be defined as “providing the things that are needed for health, growth, etc.” This is fitting in multiple ways; first being that LifeCare’s mission is to nourish the human spirit. Second being the way in which those at LifeCare and the Columbus Foundation have given us fellows an array of opportunities that have cultivated growth and development. Our host organizations and the Columbus Foundation have nourished us; shaping, guiding, and providing us with the tools to be successful leaders in our community. Although not without challenges, the past ten weeks have been filled with enlightenment, discovery, and mainly nourishment as each day brought new opportunities for learning and growth.

As I stated in my final presentation today, reflecting on my time at LifeCare leaves me with four main points, which I feel have been most significant in my fellowship. These skills will prove indispensable as I enter my senior year of college and begin my career.

The first is collaboration. Each and every day, I collaborated with different people to get tasks done. I communicated and worked with multiple people at LifeCare to craft the newsletter, coordinate events, and establish different procedures that can be utilized after my time at Carrie’s. I was challenged to venture out of my comfort zone talking to so many people each day, but realized that it is in collaboration with others that gets the job done. I used and continued to improve skills such as organization, brainstorming, and communication, which were extremely beneficial in collaborating with different people.

The second is job enlargement or the ability to ‘wear multiple hats’, as us fellows would say. All of us concluded that working at a nonprofit requires the ability to perform multiple duties. LifeCare really kept me on my toes, as I was usually given a new task almost every day. I learned the importance of going with the flow, completing one task at a time, being open to new things, and challenging myself to learn from something I may not have expected to learn from.

The third is the importance of volunteers. I was opened up to a whole new world of volunteering and all the different facets that come along with it. LifeCare has shown me the importance of volunteers and how necessary they are in an organization like theirs. Volunteers are truly the heart and center, and how an organization creates and sustains relationships is so important. Volunteers often lead to becoming donors, and donors also are at the heart and center of an organization in a different way. Both are needed for the success of a nonprofit. I was able to learn about and witness the cultivation of relationships with volunteers at LifeCare.

The fourth, final, and most important (in my eyes) is relationships. I found as if the environment at LifeCare nourished and cultivated the ways in which I was able to meet and build all kinds of relationships. From the first day at LifeCare, I found myself engaging with many people. I was able to meet with different staff members from LifeCare, sit with clients at Carrie’s Café for lunch, play bingo with the seniors every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month, talk to people at meal tastings, welcome volunteers from all over the city, engage with a countless amount of people at coupon distributions, and chat with people at fan distributions. Being able to build relationships with those who benefit from LifeCare’s services was extremely beneficial and really aided in motivating me to complete all my projects to the best of my ability, because I knew in the long run they would benefit these people with whom I encountered daily. In addition, I have been able to get to know and learn from the other fellows who have filled me with motivation and passion to truly make a difference in Columbus and the world.

I feel extremely and truly blessed to have been able to meet so many people throughout the past ten weeks, from all walks of life. I have taken in great amounts of wisdom from a countless amount of people. I feel grateful for all of those at LifeCare, especially my supervisors who have taken me under their wing and have seen the potential in me to complete tasks I wasn’t really sure I could myself. As it’s hard to believe that August 5th is here, and the fellowship is coming to a close, I feel as if my time at LifeCare has filled me with knowledge that will benefit me for the rest of my life. Thank you to LifeCare Alliance and the Columbus Foundation for this opportunity!

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The Sendoff

Today is my last day as a Columbus Foundation Summer Fellow. Some might see this as a sad day, but instead I view it as a form of graduation. I will be able to say I have completed a challenging, enlightening, and extraordinary program through the Columbus Foundation. And as a form of commencement, we will be sharing our final presentations today in front of not only our fellows, but also our co-workers and bosses.

Creating the final presentation forced me to think back into the past ten weeks and relive all that I have experienced and accomplished. From networking, to branding, fundraising to event planning, I have a whole new set of skills under my belt that I am excited to apply to new roles.

So what does my future hold for me after today? Beyond finishing my last semester at The Ohio State University and teaching dance classes at a local studio, I will also be applying to jobs within the Columbus area. This program has given me the opportunity to try new things and see whether I would enjoy these tasks as part of a career. Therefore, I have been able to narrow my focus into some sectors of the workforce:

  • I would like to work with people.
  • I want to be surrounded by the arts in some capacity.
  • I want to work with engagement and/or communication.
  • I want to be working towards a mission that I believe in and share passions toward.
  • And mostly, I want to be surrounded by people that challenge me, support me, and believe in the talents that I posses.

Overall, I am nothing but grateful to both the Columbus Foundation and the Jazz Arts Group for awarding me with such an experience and believing in me to make a change in some capacity.

 

 

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Final goodbye

At our community carnival this past Tuesday, I was responsible for doing the face painting. I grossly underestimated how popular this activity would be, and over the course of a couple hours painted the face of what seemed like almost every child who lived in a five-mile radius. As I painted spiders and hearts and turtles and peace signs I got to talk to almost every kid I’ve worked with this summer. It felt so good to experience in my final week having so many of the families together in one place, enjoying an event that I helped to put on.

At the end of this week I’ll start recharging my batteries until my final year of grad school gets into full swing on August 23rd. This fellowship has helped me to think with more nuance about what I see in my future career as a social worker. My second year field placement (fancy term for internship) will be at The Buckeye Ranch, an agency that is near and dear to my heart. I will be in their community based programs, learning a best practice model for family therapy. With the training I received in my first year, I’ll be looking at having my own clients as early as late fall.

Part of the reason I chose social work over other disciplines is its holistic focus on the person in their environment. Working with the teens and families at Southpoint has reminded me that helping any individual requires not just considering them, not just considering their family, but considering their whole community. My fellowship experience as reminded me that the field I am in is very diverse and there are a lot of avenues to create change. After graduate school my goal is work as a community based therapist, but long term I think I want to broaden my vision.

I’m so thankful to Concord Counseling and The Columbus Foundation for giving me this opportunity. At the moment I am preparing for our final presentations in a couple hours. I’ve run through my Pecha Kucha presentation so many times I feel like I could recite it in my sleep. But we’ll see how it goes in front of a big group. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the other ladies in my cohort, and can’t wait to see them shine today.

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A Note for Future Fellows

Dear incoming fellows,

Greetings from the past!!! Congratulations on your admittance to what is in my humble opinion, the most rewarding and transformative nonprofit internship opportunity in the state of Ohio! All those countless hours laboring over your application and interview paid off and you have hopefully accepted a fellowship with the nonprofit of your dreams.

Before the summer begins and life gets moving, I wanted to take some time to provide you with a few tips for success at your chosen nonprofit. This is by no means a definitive list of advice, but choose the elements that speak to you and go into the summer with an open mind and a friendly smile. Good luck!

  1. Get to Know the Other Fellows

Searching for a support system to get you through the summer? Look no further! The individuals surrounding you are some of the best and brightest in Columbus and lucky you, you have access to them 24/7! Start a GroupMe, meet up for a happy hour after work, and generally, go out of your way to introduce yourself and make your desire for friendship known! These are the individuals that will understand you the best and provide endless support throughout the summer, so utilize the first fellows meeting to make some introductions and become acquainted with your newest workplace confidants!

  1. Speak Up and Self-Advocate

It might seem daunting, but it is important to remember you got this fellowship for a reason: you earned it! After years of classes, work commitments, and extracurriculars, you are more than qualified to work in your specific position and it is vital that you use this confidence to your advantage! If you feel underutilized in the office, speak up! If you’re unsure of how to complete a task, don’t be afraid to ask for help! The program’s mutual selection process means that as much as you wanted to work with your nonprofit, it similarly wanted to work with you, so don’t be afraid to have a voice in the organization! To put it simply, know yourself, know what you need, and be confident in your ability to go get it.

  1. Practice Gratitude

While it is important to be confident at your job site, it is of equal importance to remain grateful and humble within your operations. Out of all of this year’s applicants, you are the chosen ones! Be gracious for this amazing opportunity and do not take it lightly! Thank your supervisors for placing their trust in you, be appreciative of the amazing events hosted for you by the Foundation, and take advantage of everything the program has to offer. Remember, gratitude is the open door to abundance.

Well, there you have it! Three easy tricks for the best summer experience of your life! Keep these tips in mind as you inspire change and excellence in your nonprofits and I have no doubt you will do amazing. This fellowship has the capacity to change your life if you let it, so go in to the experience open-minded, enthusiastic, and ready for anything and I know you will do great. Now go forth and be fabulous! 

All my best,

Demi Levitch

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