Week 7

This past week has been a busy one, to say the least. I attended the first of our weekly meetings for the 120th anniversary event that I have been helping to plan. I have never been part of planning such a large event, so it has been exciting to use my creative side. In one of the meetings, we walked through the venue (our industrial kitchen) to plan where each section of the party will be located. Since this party is also a way to showcase our remodeled kitchen and cancer clinic, we want to make sure the industrialized look is preserved!

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LifeCare Alliance is celebrating 120 years of the agency and 45 years of delivering Meals-On-Wheels!

On Thursday, our team participated in a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator discussion facilitated by a co-worker’s mother. This was very well-timed because I had been thinking about my leadership style and what it means to be a leader from our Learning Session on Monday. Prior to the discussion, we took the test and turned it in to be graded. The results of the test found that I am an ESFJ: Extrovert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging. This result has changed from the last time I took the test where I was an ESTJ. Apparently, Monica Geller from FRIENDS is also an ESFJ, so I know it must be accurate 🙂 My type is described as “warmhearted, conscientious, and cooperative. Wants harmony in their environment and works with determination to establish it. Likes to work with others to complete tasks accurately and on time. Loyal, follows through even in small matters. Notices what others need in their day-to-day lives and tries to provide it. Wants to be appreciated for who they are and what they contribute.”

I think my type is extremely accurate to who I am as a person. During our learning session, we discussed what it means to be a leader. One way to describe a leader is as someone who can articulate their “why” in life. My “why” in life is to provide high-quality, unbiased health care to underserved populations and I think my MBTI is an accurate reflection of this “why.”

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Week 9

Week 9’s post is coming in a tad late, but this week/weekend has been a whirlwind. In my personal life, I moved out of my campus house of two years. I lived with best friends, and to say the least it was an end of an era and a very emotional weekend. However, I moved into a new place all in the same weekend with one of those ladies!

I can’t believe my time with Huck House is coming to an end. This past week, I have had meetings with several different people in order to receive some feedback and meet the exact needs of Safe Place. A good portion of my summer has been figuring out logistics of Safe Place, making the right contacts, reconnecting, and doing all of these in the right order. This involved me waiting on a lot of answers to email and phone calls before I could move to the next task. With this, it has felt like I have been moving a little slow at times. However, I have been piecing together an operations manual of Safe Place specialized for Huck House. Safe Place operates differently at each agency with roles and responsibilities falling under different departments. My physical final deliverable will be an operations manual that can help Safe Place stay updated. Huckleberry House has been a true place of caring and support. They have been open to ideas and suggestions about Safe Place, and are willing to prioritize the program. A good portion of the staff have worked at Huck House for quite a long time, and you can tell how passionate everyone is about helping our Columbus youth. They really put everyone else first. I am so thankful to be tasked with such an impactful project for the summer. Now, time to wrap things up this week!

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Week 9 at The King Arts Complex: I said I wouldn’t cry

Entering this week, I knew I would feel an array of emotions. Although it was only the second to last week of the fellowship, it was the last week of summer camp. The first emotion was stress. Starting the week with the assignment of making the program for the Final Production, I was then given the last-minute responsibility of running the soundboard and acting as a stagehand. I immediately felt overwhelmed due to my limited knowledge on how to work the equipment necessary to make both a well-designed program and run a soundboard. However, we were understaffed and with most of the additional help at the Complex being older people, I had to do what I do best: adapt and learn. I followed the men who were working the sound and lighting equipment and learned the different terminology to communicate what was needed from the crew during the show. While the campers rehearsed, I looked up videos on designing event programs. From the beginning of my shift to the very end, I was a sponge, absorbing everything I could to ensure that I was being the most efficient. Thankfully I took the time to learn because there were very minor adjustments that needed to be made during the Final Production that could have caused a major issue if I hadn’t been prepared beforehand. Overall, the show was magical and left many of the parents in tears.

After the final production, the last few days were smooth sailing. Giving the kids the opportunity to relax without the stress of the performance was one of the highlights of the week. I got to talk to them about their dreams and aspirations and ask them what they wish could have been better during the camp. On the last day, the kids ate pizza and ice cream and attending an event at COSI. I paused while the kids were running around and I shed a tear. I thought about the freedom the kids felt at that moment. They laughed and were able to embrace the world without fear of anything else. Although I have left my religious upbringing and taken on a more spiritual approach to life, at that moment, I prayed. I prayed that this feeling would never be lost as the kids grew up. I prayed that the young boys who had so openly shared their emotions don’t have toxic masculinity engrained in their hearts. I prayed that the girls who moved so freely in every dance ensemble never face any violence to their bodies. I prayed that they remained hopeful. The most important part of that word being full. Full of joy and jubilance. Full of light and life. Full. When it was finally time for me to leave, I was full. Full of tears and hope. Full of possibility. Attached is a photo before the Final Production.

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When there’s no map to follow in making the MAP

This week was a big milestone for my summer project: I began the process of training Local Matters employees on what the MAP (Master Accounts of Programming) Airtable tool is, how to effectively utilize it for the specific needs of specific roles throughout the organization, and collecting input on what needs to be changed for it to truly be useful for each team member. To do this, I had one on one training sessions with each department, which was at most three people, and most often a one on one meeting. This allowed me to gain a clearer view of different roles in the organization that I previously had little interaction with. Though gaining this insight was this enriching and useful to tweak the MAP, it was extremely frustrating to realize how small I’ve been thinking throughout the lifetime of this project. Up until now, I had only been focusing on improving the communication and organization of data for the program team and the internal evaluation processes. After these trainings, I’ve realized how much more potential this project could bring to the entire organization, for processes like volunteer management, or organization of Cooking Matters which is run by the Local Matters AmeriCorps members.

While this creates a challenging environment to wrap up loose strings in, I’m humbled in constantly realizing how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know. For example, I had no idea how many platforms were being utilized by the organization (Airtable, WhenIWork, Google Calendar, DropBox, Sales Force, Better Impact, MailChimp, TicketTailor….Etc.), which made it seem much simpler in my mind the task at hand of aggregating data. I had a limited understanding of how much each individual staff member contributed to the organization through their role, and how much each role was pivotal in sustaining the organization. Thinking of how many unknowns are left, I’m eager to continue learning more about the vast world of nonprofit work, and hope to soak up every last drop of knowledge possible during the last week of the fellowship.

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Know your worth…

…and value it!

Podcast link: https://soundcloud.com/user-110817248/tcf-blog-week-9/s-XCxYM

Podcast transcript:

“This week has been crazy in regards to my personal life, but work has been very steady. Coming back from camp I felt like I had a lot to catch up on, but I know all the work I’ve put in has paid off.

I’m almost finished with all my videos for the summer. The main project I have left is the Summer of 2018 Recap video, which I think is a fitting way to start reflecting on the summer I’ve experienced here at TECH CORPS.

I had a brief, but really good conversation with Carla, one of my colleagues and the person who was my first point of contact at the organization. She has been traveling to sites around the country a lot this summer, so I wanted to catch up with her since we were both back in the office this week. We talked about my experience this summer, what I’ve learned, how they could have improved my experience or what they should change for future fellows, and the work I’ve done this summer. Reflecting with Carla made me feel a little emotional. The passage of time and thinking about growth always makes me feel weird and introspective.

As far as things that could have been improved, I didn’t really have any concrete advice. There was really only one idea I presented to Carla, and it came from my own feelings and conversations I had with other fellows. We’ve all agreed that school sets us up to require structure, permission, and supervision every step of the way. It’s a really hard transition going from that environment to a workplace that gives you lots of freedom. I think immersion into this culture is really the only way to combat and relearn what school instills into you, and I’m not really sure what could be done to aid in this process, but I know that once I had a more clear timeline and project list I felt much more confident doing things on my own.

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Speaking of doing things on my own, here’s a quick promo I made!

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“Anotha’ one”

Carla told me they were really happy with my work for the summer and assured me that they were happy with their decision to have me as a fellow, which made me feel really good. I tend to undervalue myself and feel like a phony when it comes to my work, and having this confirmation that I made a difference was a relief. She told me they were really sad to see me go, because of how integrated into the team I became in my short summer here. We agreed that I definitely want to stay involved despite the fact that I’m not sure I’ll even have enough time to sleep during fall semester. That’s a lie, sleep is the only thing I’ll really make time for. But I think I can also make some time for this awesome organization. Lisa also mentioned some contract work after I go back to school. Hooray for the start of my freelancing side hustle! 

My time here was celebrated in the best way possible: a taco bar. Early in the summer we had a taco bar catered for a professional development session held in the office, and I had a freak out because taco bars are the best thing to happen to this country. So when I heard Lisa say “Hope, will you clear space for the taco bar?” you can imagine the emotions coursing through my mind. I appreciate this kind, thoughtful lunch so much. But my gratitude for this fellowship goes even deeper than the taco bar celebration.”

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The Infamous Taco Bar

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An unrelated celebration: My best friend’s 21st! I had to take a quick trip back to camp to bring her balloons.

 

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City Year: Week 9

Some higher nonprofit power must have read my blog post last week and responded in-kind: this week has been FAST PACED to say the least!

On Monday, our brand-new AmeriCorps members started at City Year Columbus- so our office gained 62 new employees in our space this week. These AmeriCorps members will serve in seven Columbus City Schools: Champion Middle School, Linden-McKinley STEM Academy, Livingston Elementary, Mifflin High School, South High School, Trevitt Elementary, and Windsor STEM Academy. Over the next two weeks, the AmeriCorps members will go through a rigorous training program to equip them for a year of service. This programming includes diversity training, program planning and implementation, and team-building exercises. I have had the opportunity to sit in on some of the talks- my favorite, however, have been the “life stories” presented by Impact Managers and Senior Corps members. Every morning, a different City Year member gives a presentation on their background and how they came to City Year. It has been incredible to have staff members be so vulnerable and open about their learning experiences and their decision to serve. The new Corps members have brought a wonderful energy to the office this week.

In the midst of all of the new AmeriCorps programming, this week also brought new grant opportunities! On Wednesday, City Year was invited to apply for a significant community grant. The one catch- it was DUE the same day we were invited to apply. Of all my experiences working in nonprofit development, this might be the one which best encapsulates the work we do. My Development Manager and I spent the day writing, editing, and putting together the pieces of the grant application as quickly as possible- this was the best experience in grant writing I have had, and it challenged me to think and work on the fly. We submitted the grant before the 5 pm deadline- fingers crossed that we hear back from the organization soon!

This week truly emphasized the fluid nature of the nonprofit sector- with so little to do last week and so much to do this week, work in the development department always keeps me on my toes.

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‘Twas the night before Youth Summit…

… And I have just about put in a 12 hour work day. Oh, and it’s my birthday!

This past week has been crazy busy; I totaled my car, had my school laptop sent in for repairs and come back still not fixed, and started a lease on an apartment in Pennsylvania where I don’t even live yet — all while being in the final weeks of ETSS’s Summer Enrichment Camp and the final stages of planning and preparation for their Youth Summit. Mercury is quite literally in retrograde right now, and I feel it deeply.

Despite my personal life being a mess, I am starting to feel more than ever part of the ETSS family. I feel comfortable talking to people, sharing my opinion, asking questions, and taking the initiative to do certain tasks. This has led me to pick up many different side jobs throughout my fellowship such as helping manage the Youth Department interns, running the Summer Enrichment Camp’s overarching nutrition program, managing all purchases for the Youth Department, and undertaking some large scale organization projects.

I also feel like people at ETSS are warming up to me, too — Bire, one of the older women at the office, was deeply upset when she found out that I was only here until August 10, and she invited me back to work again next summer. Meberat, the secretary, has started to include me on her afternoon rounds when she serves coffee. I have even started to accumulate my own stashes and storage areas in the office where only I know where things are. (Various office employees having “stashes” of random supplies and materials is a thing at ETSS. Next week, once the Youth Summit is over, I plan to inventory and organize everything so it can be useful for others.)

I started this summer worrying about how I would fit in at an office run and led by people who on the outside are not like me. I asked myself, “Where is my place as a white United States citizen within this organization?” I constantly reflected on my intentions, my assumptions, my positionality, and I felt doubtful and fretful about my relative worth at ETSS. After working with and learning from others at ETSS, I have come to understand that ETSS works to build bridges and work collaboratively with all races, nationalities, and backgrounds like no other organization I have encountered before. At ETSS, if you are a kind person who works hard and is willing to learn, you will quickly become part of their family.

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