Budgets and money are always somewhere on my mind with my work at Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services (ETSS). Do we have enough money for this? Who has donated for what? Did you get that purchase approved before you bought that? Every cent has to be accounted for so that ETSS can provide reports to grant providers, pay its employees, and remain viable as a non-profit.
ETSS’s tight budgets, though necessary, can create tensions. This past week has been difficult in that respect, as ETSS is quickly running out of its grant funds to support its Summer Enrichment Program. Now, the difficult questions need to be asked and answered: Do we really need to buy this? Can you find other sources of funding for that? How can we make do with what we have? These questions and answers are not easy, especially since everyone at ETSS wants those we serve to have access to the resources they need. But, unfortunately, that is not the world we live in, and we have to stick to small, tight budgets while serving an immense need.
On a more positive note, I have done my (small) part in asking for and receiving donations for ETSS’s Youth Department. Last week, a man sent a check to the ETSS office for $500 for the Youth Summit, and I have organized meetings this week with potential new community partners. I have also received donations from various organizations across central Ohio for the goodie bags ETSS’s children will receive at the Youth Summit, as well. Asking for money and donations is something that I am not always comfortable doing, but slowly I am am beginning to feel more confident and capable in asking.
While I love those I have met at Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services, I have been reflecting deeply and realize that I have been viewing my work experience as a type of transitory or fleeting thing. I feel as if I have labelled my Columbus Foundation Summer Fellows experience as a placeholder as I prepare for the next thing that my life brings me instead of being fully present in my work and its mission. To an extent it makes sense why I might feel this way — everything I own is in boxes except for work clothes and a few toiletries, I just graduated from undergrad, I am living with my parents until literally the last day of my fellowship, I start graduate school on August 13, etc. But this coming week, I want to reflect more deeply on how I can be more present in my work this summer and I want to set intentions of what I want to receive in terms of professional development during my fellowship.