The legendary Ohio State coach lives on through the football powerhouse he built on the Banks of the Olentangy River and through his timeless words of wisdom. Ostensibly every Ohio resident with any sort of sports compass is familiar with Coach Hayes and his call to “pay it forward.” One phrase that the university has adopted as a part of its identity, and Nike has adorned over-priced memorabilia with is Woody’s declaration that winning is a communal action. No athlete is capable of winning alone, without teammates, coaches, trainers, a support group, among others; additionally, the type of people one chooses to associate with is paramount in determining the level of success they will achieve. Similarly, organizations are dependent on the people they choose to employ, do business with, take on as clients, and so forth, in their efforts to sustain an impact. A nonprofit is only as effective as its people will allow it to be. Having a vision, a meticulous strategic plan, and adequate funding is essentially meaningless without having the right individuals in place.
As I reflect on my first two weeks at the Vineyard Community Center, Coach Hayes’ adage continuously reverberates in my mind. This organization has, knowingly or otherwise, embodied his lesson. I was able to spend more time with my co-workers this past week, both in the office as well as informally over lunch outside of our cubicles. The more familiar I am getting with the office and my peers, the more I appreciate that I have the opportunity to join their team for the summer. Last week I experienced their congeniality and genuine kindness, this week I learned just how serious my coworkers are. Many of them have graduate and professional degrees. Many have traveled the world, not just as tourists, but as community members. In one particular case, one of the Directors in the center moved to Tanzania with his wife and three children for three years to help create an apparatus to deliver clean water to the poorest and least privileged areas of the Eastern African nation. He helped thousands gain access to clean water, a scarce amenity in the forgotten rural villages of Tanzania. That is just one incredible story among the ocean of experiences that seemingly every one of my coworkers has contributed to. They are working in the nonprofit field, and specifically for Vineyard, because they seriously yearn to engender a positive impact on their community; most of the standard motivations for taking on a job, such as pay, convenience, prestige and so on, hold very little clout, if any, within the scope of our office.
I am encouraged, not just to continue working and ameliorating our community with Vineyard, but to ultimately select a profession that is more of a way of life for me, as opposed to the mental and social exercises I engage in from nine to five everyday. Moreover, I am motivated to surround myself with the right people in all of my future endeavors, in order to attain the most success possible, and of course, to win.