End of the Road

This semester at A Wider Circle has been so rewarding. I have learned a great amount, and gained a ton of experience. But, most importantly, I feel like I have actually made a difference. It is an unbelievable feeling when someone comes in to tell you that they have been sleeping on the floor for months, as well as their children, but they are so excited because tonight they won't have to do that anymore. It is shocking sometimes the things we take for granted in life. My internship helped me to put that more in perspective.

After this internship, I definitely feel like the small non-profit is probably one of the best work environments imaginable. 

Unfortunately, things are coming to a close now. Graduation is on Saturday (eek), and then Friday, May 15 will be my last day officially as an intern. (Though, I'm sure I'll be in and out through the month of May dropping things off since I am moving! AWC is coming down to pick up our beds/chairs/dresser at the end of the month, but I'll probably take smaller things before then.) However, I'm definitely going to keep volunteering and referring people to A Wider Circle.


Crazy Sunday!

We haven't been doing Sunday pick-up days in a while, since we have been getting more clients in during the week. However, lately, we've had such a great inventory of beds from Marriott and other furniture from the plethora of awesome donors that Alicia has been scheduling them. So this Sunday I went (along with my boyfriend) to help out! And it was ridiculous.

On top of having 9-10 clients scheduled for a span of 2 hours, we also had a group of about 30 kids from a youth group in to volunteer. Add on to that the fact that I was running the warehouse, and after 3 hours, I was ready to keel over. But, aside from the exhaustion, the day was great. Almost all of our clients showed up, and the kids were a GREAT help. They managed to move an entire warehouse worth of furniture in about an hour (I shudder to think how long this would have taken the staff/interns to do on our own). And they also got a lot of stuff organized, and help load client's vehicles. All in all, it was a wonderful day! And the ice cream truck even showed up...


Working With Clients

This week, and really all semester, we had some great clients come in to the warehouse. It is so fun to be able to serve these men and women - I get to talk with them and find out more about their lives, and help them pick out the furniture that they will take home. It's awesome to work directly with our clients because I get to see first-hand how excited and grateful they are, and what a difference our organization makes in their lives.

One exciting thing this week is that we actually have too much furniture! Well, we can never have too much to serve our clients, but our warehouse (and our storage warehouse) were about at capacity on Thursday when I got to work. Mind you, both were nearing empty when I left the Friday before. We had some fantastic donors this past week! We've been able to get a lot of clients scheduled, and even have people coming in this Sunday to get their items (which we don't normally do).

It seems like word about A Wider Circle is really spreading, and the results are magnificent.


A Wider Circle

I found out about A Wider Circle last semester, when Mark Bergel (founder), was my professor for Health, Education, and Poverty. From the first day he was teaching our class, his passion and enthusiasm were immediately evident, which got me really interested in his organization. I had witnessed a lot of the poverty that we talked about in our class through my job at the Public Defender Service, and saw his organization as a chance to make a difference in a new way with much of the same population. When it came time for me to find an internship for the spring semester, I immediately thought of Mark, and emailed him to find out what sort of internship opportunities they might have. And, long story short, here I am. I'm interning Thursdays and Fridays, and I look forward to these days all week.

(Josh, another senior at AU, also interns here and writes a blog)

I am working, loosely, as an assistant to the Client Coordinator, Alicia. So, mostly, my time is spent out in the warehouse helping clients do their intake paperwork, choose their items, and load their vehicles. I really enjoy working directly with our clients, it is a great experience to meet these people and see who we are helping first-hand. I also spend a large portion of my time doing more administrative tasks: preparing paperwork for the next day, sending out confirmation/dirctions letters to upcoming clients, etc... I'm also responsible for checking all the car seats and printing out their manuals, so that we're not sending out any seats that are too old/not safe. I do lots of other stuff, too, but those are the things I do every day.


Major Change of Plans

It's been quite a while since my last entry, and quite a few things have changed since then...

...such as, I am no longer working at this job.

So, I guess that requires some explanation. Earlier this semester, I had two jobs - one at IP (Mondays all day and Tuesday mornings) and the other at A Wider Circle (Thursday and Friday). On Wednesdays, I had my two classes. Because of all the hours I was spending at work, it was making it really hard for me to keep up with the work for my two classes and my senior honors capstone. So, I talked to my mom and roommate about the situation, and eventually came to the decision that I had to cut some commitment so that I didn't go crazy/my grades didn't slip. Since dropping my classes was not an option, it came down to one of my internships. And, because I am working at A Wider Circle for credit (which I need to be a full time student, and therefore keep my scholarship and graduate), it had to be IP. I spoke with my supervisor, and explained the situation to her. Fortunately, she was incredibly understanding and said that she was glad I let her know what was going on. I was very nervous before talking with her, but now I am fortunate that I did, because I actually have time to do my work for school, as well as a little time to work out and just relax/regroup. Lesson I learned here: be honest with yourself, and about what you can handle. And be open with your supervisors at work, especially when you are a student they are very likely to understand if you need to change your schedule/hours. 

Now, this blog will be about my OTHER internship, at A Wider Circle. Starting next time.


The Economy SUCKS

So, since I interviewed at IP, they have cut about 5 permanent staff members. Now they don't have enough staff to do all the work they need to get done, so everyone is always super busy and they've brought in interns to help make up the gap. However, everyone on staff is so busy all the time that it leads to an issue that I have been experiencing: they do not even have the time to put together projects for me to work on, because they have too much else to work on, and they're stuck doing all the work anyway. This frustrates me like crazy - I want to be of service to them, but it's tough when all I have to work on is the author database (oh, lovely, lovely database) which has been passed from intern to intern for months and really isn't anywhere near completion. Then, when the database I need to use to compile the names/affiliations/contact info for the new mailing list goes down, there isn't anything to do except work on getting that fixed (which I attempted for 2 hours to no avail until it was time for me to leave). Oh, and I also walked 3 blocks to Safeway to get soda for a lunch presentation they were having at the office on Tuesday. I've been using a lot of brain power this week...


Three Weeks Down

This week had me working on much more substantial projects. Monday, I struggled to get the sound working on ANY computer in the office (there are like 5 that I can use, and NONE of them had sound) so that I could do a video project for the Publications Director. This consisted of watching a promo tape for one author and then linking photos to the dialogue from a database she sent me. It was a little tedious, at times, because there was no counter on the video and I had to use my cell phone stopwatch to figure out the time cues, but it was interesting to learn more about the books IslandPress publishes, especially this topic (the main reason I don't eat fish is because of the absurd overfishing practices). After that, I did some less exciting work (making an excel database of people to add to the email newsletter list) for the rest of the day. Then, Tuesday, I did all my paperwork (time sheets, etc), talked with my supervisor (the head of the Development team), and then started on another project for Communications/Publications. This was updating the Pub report (a record that IP keeps of all the "earned press" for the books they have published in the past year). It was crazy to see how many blogs talked about our books- somebody even "tweeted" (oh, twitter-verbs) about one last week! Two days without ANY database entry... hallelujah!