As one of my peers wrote in their blog, I am left wondering where the time has gone this summer. It seems like the summer began and ended before I could truly process my project in its entirety. Have you ever reached the end of a project and wondered if what you did will ever matter? That’s where I am. It’s not because I think my project didn’t matter – I think that creating a course of action for collecting and using stories in nonprofit work is extremely valuable. I think that it’s the fact that I’m leaving with so much work left to be done.
I think this feeling, though, can be described in many ways. For me, it’s the ever so frustrating sense that a social issue you’re working with may never be resolved. In my case, and I would argue almost all nonprofit cases, this issue is poverty. While it’s frustrating to personally grapple with the fact that I may only make a small dent in the path towards resolving poverty over the course of my entire lifetime, this opportunity still allowed me to remain hopeful. Though my project was tiny in the grand scheme of things, it’s important to remember that small wins are still wins. I loved every second of spending time with children at camp, no matter how challenging it could be. The smallest positive change in a child could be what causes a ripple effect to change their entire life for the better. What I’ve learned throughout this summer is that nonprofit work can sometimes be about just fighting for those changes. The work I did this summer may not solve poverty for everyone, but it may help at least one person achieve a better life in some way. It is important for those looking to work in this setting to not devalue small scale changes.
My project could help make some of those small changes, and I’m leaving with that knowledge. I’m also leaving with a deeper respect with those who dedicate their lives to nonprofit work. I think nonprofits aren’t given the credit they deserve for their resourcefulness, grit, and unmatched passion. I’ve been challenged to think more about what makes a leader and have come to believe that our society sometimes overlooks the greatest leaders of all – those that exist in the nonprofit sector.
I already miss all the campers so much, and life is far less fun without them. I also thought I would stop taking naps after work because being in an office shouldn’t be as tiring as working with kids. I can confirm that I am still napping; the real world is hard, y’all.
Thank you to SON Ministries for trusting in me and thank you to The Columbus Foundation for the opportunity to immerse myself in nonprofit work.