Week 1: community & communication

Blog posts always feel like a message in a bottle. Whom do I address? So let me begin with a simple… Hello, you. Whomever you are. Here is what you need to know first…

Who: Karlee Hehemann

What: The Columbus Foundation’s Summer Fellowship Program

When: June 5-August 11, 2017

Where: The Deaf Services Center

Short. Simple. Sweet? Now onto the good stuff… I am finishing up my first week as a summer fellow. My cursor is currently hovering over the words “first week” wondering if that could be correct – I am questioning my own perception of time. Has it really only been one week? My poor recollection of co-worker’s names holds as my only evidence of time. Beyond that, I have already learned so much.

I have worked at nonprofits before, but nothing has ever seemed so important to me. Caring about the difference an organization makes is a game changer. After learning about Deaf culture throughout three semesters of American Sign Language courses at The Ohio State University, I wanted to know more. The articles and documentaries no longer sufficed. I wanted to learn Deaf culture first hand(s) – get it… like signing… hands?

So you may be wondering, ‘What is Deaf culture?’ Good question. I am still learning the answer to that. What I know so far is that Deaf culture is a community with it’s own etiquette, language, history, art, values… you know, like any other culture specific to a distinct group of people. However, what makes Deaf culture so unique is how unifying it can be. In a modern society moving swiftly towards individualism, community becomes even more important.

On day one at the Deaf Services Center, I was introduced to the people and departments throughout the office. The employees all range from Deaf, hearing, hard of hearing, and Deaf-blind. They work in departments focusing on administration, interpreting services, employment resources, etc. Basically, everyone at DSC is a pro-communicator.

Community minded + communication driven = this gal has a lot to learn.

On top of that, I get to be immersed in the daily victories/struggles of a grass-roots nonprofit organization. Doing my best to evaluate the efficiency of our current CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, research/contact local marketing firms, write up a RFP (Request for Proposal), organize for the DSC Golf Tournament this weekend, and learn all the business-related acronyms in the world (kidding.. but it feels like it).

Being apart of this program has already been a huge blessing to me. I had no idea what to expect while attending my first learning session last Monday, but it is safe to say that my expectations been exceeded. I am looking forward to this upcoming session, on Tuesday, and exchanging stories from this past week.

– Karlee H.

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