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.