Taking the Time to Reflect

I just passed the halfway mark for my fellowship in June. This seemed momentous for several reasons: a) This is my first “real job,” thus I feel like a real adult with one work anniversary under my belt, b) I have less than a year to figure out my next steps, which still seem pretty nebulous right now, and c) How has it been over a year since I started working here? It seemed only proper to reflect on my experience thus far. Below are some of the reflections that I have written over the last few weeks.

First of all, I have learned so much in this last year. I have learned about humility, generosity, listening to and valuing people regardless of background or life situation, and patience, just to name a few. There are also two mentors that have encouraged me, shared their own professional journey, helped me make contacts, challenged me to contemplate tough questions, and have always been there to listen. My understanding of affordable housing has grown over the last year and it has become a cause that is dear to my heart. I have remained an optimist even when it was easier to be a cynic. I also learned how gratifying and how difficult it can be to work in a nonprofit.

In the midst of reflecting over growth from the last year, I am also constantly reminded of how much I still have to learn. For instance, engaging the community and donors on social media has been much harder than I imagined. Also, I have not mastered effectively delegating tasks to volunteers or other coworkers. Unfortunately, too often I take on more projects than I should and stretch myself thin, to the point where I am not doing anything well. I have been tasked with doing things out of my comfort zone, like trying to chat with and recruit volunteers; I am still not comfortable doing this or very good at it but having done it once makes doing it again less intimidating.

There are also touching memories that I will cherish long after I leave my post at DHC. Working on building luminary kits with spunky eighth graders in the cold and rain for what seemed like unending hours. The moment of elation when I found out that we were awarded funds from the first grant application I wrote at DHC. The time I received a note from an elderly women I helped on the phone that proclaimed that I “restored her confidence in people.” The utter chaos of our Souper Bowl fundraiser and the awesome team I had that helped avert disaster. The conversations I’ve had with tenants that remind me why my job is important and why advocacy is crucial- to take away the stigma of affordable housing and put a face to the work we do in the community. Meetings with passionate students and volunteers that have unique ideas and energy that fill me with hope that other people care as much as I do. Going forward, I will remember all of these things and continue to make new memories.

From these reflections I know that I want to appreciate and enjoy these next ten months. I hope to accomplish goals I have set for myself and help DHC reach new milestones. I hope to make a lasting impact on this organization as I know this experience has made an impact on me.

Quis custodiet ipsos excelum

I’m trying to navigate through the bureaucracy of obtaining a work permit with an immigration officer, and my progress is interrupted by the officer’s ringtone. It reminds me of the ringtone I had on the phone I was given during my semester in Uganda almost a year ago. Moments later, someone else’s cell phone brings [...]

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Expecting the Unexpected

“Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It’s the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy for you too.” – Frederick Buechner At some point during each of the six audit projects [...]

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Preparedness

The recent months have been a whirlwind. With changing seasons, new jobs, and big hopes, I concluded my Davidson Impact Fellowship and embarked on a new journey. I have yet to have time to sit and think about the things I worked on and contributed to over the past year. So as I pause to [...]

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Prideful D.C.

Although D.C. Pride did not have the same uniquely perfect timing as the San Francisco and NYC (and others’) Pride weekends enjoyed – theirs inaugurated with the historical moment of marriage equality for all ushered into America last Friday – it nonetheless provided for a week of amazing Pride-ful presence across the nation’s capital. Granted, my experience [...]

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Thinking Pink: Ladies Night Out and the World of “Breast Cancer Kitsch”

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We’d talked for about a minute and a half when Wanda yanked an extra chair closer to her computer monitor (perched amidst hallmark figurines, inspirational slogan magnets, and family photos) in her gray health department cubicle. She pledged: “Now this is guaranteed to make you cry.” She was talking about Ladies Night Out, a monthly program [...]

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Musings from the Mountain

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   During my time at ASC, I have had the opportunity to attend two retreats with my team. Initially, I was very apprehensive about this experience and the thought of spending three days on top of a mountain with zero cell service and zero personal space.  Nonetheless, I packed up my car, and my work, [...]

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Matching Idealism with Pragmatism: Working towards a Healthier Tanzania

Over 7,000 miles away from Tanzania’s Lake Zone is a different sort of jungle—New York City. While Touch’s in-country team executes and manages our projects in East Africa, I support the development, implementation, and evaluation of the organization’s communication plan from Touch’s New York office. Established in 2004, the Touch Foundation works to improve Tanzania’s [...]

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A Touch of Program

Cutler Fellows in working groups

Over the course of my Fellowship with Salzburg Global Seminar, I have focused the majority of my time in fundraising. Juggling the many projects in support of both institutional and individual giving for Salzburg Global keeps me busy, to say the least. Solicitations, grant proposals and reports are constantly circulating among the members of our team. We [...]

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Lessons in Event Planning

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For the last several months, my time has been consumed largely by planning DHC’s two biggest fundraisers. This includes a luminary fundraiser around the holidays and a soup tasting fundraiser right before the Super Bowl. At times, there seemed to be a lot of pressure; botching an event could reflect negatively on the organization or [...]

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