My sixth week at Columbus’ Ronald McDonald House involved me wearing a number of different ‘hats’. Through my experience as a Summer Fellow and in other internships that I have completed, I have slowly realized that non-profit professionals wear a number of different hats. I think there are a number of reasons why this happens in the non-profit sector. First of all, most non-profit organizations are severely understaffed which results in a small staff taking on numerous responsibilities. Another reason could be the type of person, which the non-profit sector attracts. Most non-profit professionals are go-getters who are passionate about the work that they are doing. This results in an employee who strives to help out in any situation sometimes going above and beyond to get things done. Just as I sit here writing this post, a fellow staff member at RMHC is staying well past the time she was scheduled to work in order to get her job done. She is basically donating her time to the Ronald McDonald House after 4:00 PM hits, because quite simply: there is no ‘overtime’ pay in the non-profit sector.
I think that this week has been a fantastic learning experience in figuring out what ‘hats’ I can wear in a non-profit setting. Furthermore, it has been a test for me to see how many ‘hats’ I can juggle at one time or throughout the course of one week. In this week alone, I worked to plant flowers in our outside garden, mulch those same flowerbeds, bake eight dozen cupcakes, help children decorate cupcakes, continue process improvement, create content for a blog, oversee volunteers, design informational packets, and put finishing touches on our expansion! It is clear that juggling a number of different hats will continue to be an important part of my experience at Ronald McDonald House and in the non-profit sector.
I think it is important that I am aware of how many ‘hats’ I put on. I can already foresee that this could be a cause of burnout for myself. Just at RMHC alone, I have seen a couple of coworkers burnout from trying to juggle too many hats! It will be important for my professional and personal well being to be aware of this.
Another fantastic part of this week including attending the Columbus Foundation’s Grant Information and Power Philanthropy sessions. Through this session, I learned more information about the number of different grants that the Columbus Foundation and other supporting foundations offer. Specifically with my arts background, I was interested in both of the Arts & Culture grants that the Columbus Foundation makes available. I met a number of Columbus Foundation employees, such as Ann Dodson, who I hadn’t met in prior Fellows Learning sessions. This was also a great chance for some networking for myself, as I met a fellow musician and flutist named Mary Malone who recently started as the Development Director at Orphan World Relief. Overall, this session was an informative and interesting time that left me inspired about the level of funding available to non-profit organizations in Franklin County.
One final part of my week included a visit from the Blue Jacket college-aged recruits, which gave me a break from the office setting for a couple of hours. These recruits were an enthusiastic and nice group of volunteers who helped the House by planting more flowers and hanging out with some of the hospitalized children. Jillian, another intern, and I baked eight dozen cupcakes so that the recruits and the children could have something to do. Baking that many cupcakes was such a fun experience and decorating them was even better! Seeing the sick children smile as they played with the Blue Jacket recruits made the entire experience truly gratifying. This was definitely a well-spent Tuesday afternoon!