Creating and preserving healthy, stable and affordable communities, one neighborhood, one person at a time. This is Homeport’s mission, the mission I get to be a part of during this exciting, action-packed summer as their Columbus Foundation summer fellow. Providing for others and serving the city of Columbus have been part of my life since I was a kid. Growing up in Upper Arlington I always loved volunteering in any way I could and I carried that love into my experiences as I attended Roanoke College in southwestern Virginia. Approaching my May graduation from Roanoke I wasn’t quite sure of what I wanted to do post-graduation; I double majored in philosophy and Spanish with a minor in sociology so I didn’t exactly have a clear career path ahead of me. I had volunteered and interned with Roanoke-area non-profits and discovered that I have a passion for serving others and working with non-profit organizations. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to continue that work here in Columbus this summer as a CF Summer Fellow at Homeport.
Homeport’s mission to provide affordable housing throughout central Ohio manifests itself in four different facets. Homeport has developed over 2,000 rental units throughout Columbus as part of their Rental Living program and they have developed and sold over 96 affordable homes since 2004 as part of their Home Ownership Division. Not only does Homeport provide affordable housing throughout Central Ohio, Homeport also provides classes for thousands of Central Ohioans to improve their economic literacy including Homebuyer Education Workshops, Foreclosure Prevention Programs, and Financial Fitness classes. Another goal of Homeport is to foster community life through summer camps, community gardens, and other community events. All of these aspects of Homeport’s activity in the community combine to carry out their mission of creating and preserving healthy, stable, and affordable communities in the Columbus area.
My role in this mission is a small one in the scope Homeport’s large community impact, but it is an exciting and dynamic role insofar as I get to work with Morgen Wade, the Manager of Volunteer Engagement, and the wonderful Homeport volunteers. My task for the summer involves creating Business Process Management documentation to record and develop the operating procedures of the Volunteer Engagement department. Part of this process will involve participating in Homeport’s volunteer initiatives throughout the summer as well as volunteering with and getting to know other non-profit volunteer programs in Columbus. I’m really excited to be exposed to other non-profits in Columbus, but I’m especially excited to have the opportunity to get to know more about the work of Homeport and how they engage the community. This experience is already shaping up to be extremely valuable. I have had so many opportunities in just one week and I know by the end of the summer, having collaborated in creating standard operating procedures for the major volunteer initiatives at Homeport, I will have skills that I can carry with me into any future job.
My first week as a CF Summer Fellow with Homeport has been jam packed with new people, new experiences, and a lot of learning. I began on Monday being introduced to my fellow Fellows with whom I will be spending the summer. Throughout the week I have been slowly getting to know the office and the ins and outs of my summer project. One of the highlights of the week was volunteering with the Homeport sponsored project on Long Street during Realtor Care Day on Wednesday. Almost 100 volunteers came together in just one of 25 Realtor Care Day projects throughout the city for a day to transform an abandoned lot into a community gathering space. Throughout the day I saw realtor volunteers and their kids create a life size checker board, they created an outdoor movie space with tree stumps for amphitheater seating, and they created a patio area with picnic tables where customers of the Taqueria food truck can sit and eat.
The day was a huge success and it was a lot of fun to see the revitalization mission of Homeport come alive in their North of Broad community. After a great first week I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer will bring!