Archives for January 2017

Fighting Hunger with the Hispanic Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida by Amy Lamb

Florida has changed and grown since my childhood, but nothing is more normal there than a severe–but short–thunderstorm in the afternoon. I wasn’t surprised when, during a recent Helping Hands meal packaging event with the Hispanic Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, the lights flickered and the salsa, merengue or bachata-influenced music stopped for a moment. The energy of more than 120 volunteers, however, never stopped. Helping Handsis a partnership of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Stop Hunger Now.

Fighting Hunger with the Hispanic Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida by Amy Lamb

It’s easy to facilitate an event with an enthusiastic host and volunteer group and a strong partnership with another organization (CRS is Stop Hunger Now’s largest non-profit partner), but because I was asked to translate everything I know about Stop Hunger Now’s work, the event and global hunger from English to Spanish, I was required to think about the importance of my language.

The facilitators of Stop Hunger Now meal packaging events have many jobs: transporting  materials, setting up, directing the volunteers and, most importantly, orienting everyone present to the work, mission and organization. I know from past experiences leading volunteers that figuring out how to do this effectively is not always easy. So, when I feel challenged by my own word choice, I usually translate what I want to say into Spanish–because it isn’t my first language, I have to find the central point of what I wish to say quickly.

In translating for this event with the Hispanic Diocese, I remembered the volunteers, their energy and engagement in our mission is the central point of these events. While the meals are a concrete, measurable result, when I attend or help facilitate an event, I enjoy that volunteers have dedicated themselves to being the apparatus of our mission. As I leave my home state once again, I am invigorated by our volunteers and grateful for the opportunity to translate and therefore think about my language’s role in engaging our volunteers.

 

*Amy Lamb is the Davidson Impact Fellow with Stop Hunger Now and is a recent graduate of Davidson College. She performs data analysis to assist program staff in planning and goal making as well as strategizes Hispanic outreach for the organization.

** This article was first published on Stop Hunger Now website. See here for the original post.

Waiting for the Weekdays: 2016 in Review

Growing up, I often heard the expression working for the weekends. As a student, I more than understood what this phrase meant. The week was tough while the weekend was fun. However, my experience with Communities In Schools (CIS) has caused me to rethink this commonly heard saying. Why wait for the weekends, when weekdays are exciting?

My fellowship began on August 1, 2016, and from the moment that I walked through the door, CIS greeted me with incredible support and compassion. Employees whom I had not yet even met had sent me emails to welcome me to the organization, staff members in the central office greeted me by name, and my two bosses wasted no time marking sure that I had everything that I needed to be successful.

When I started with CIS I knew that I would have the opportunity to wear many hats. As the assistant to the Finance and HR departments my responsibilities ranged from onboarding new employees to helping people request funds for their programs. Coworkers wasted no time figuring out where my passions lay, and they worked tirelessly to provide me with opportunities to learn and grow. In the last few months, my coworkers have given me the chance to lead training sessions, create presentations, help with the volunteer program, learn about advancement initiatives, and participate in trainings. Also, as the resident tester of new technology, I have had the opportunity to do professional development trainings on leadership and finance. These courses prepared me for the work that I do every day.

I would be remiss to not mention all of the people who have served as mentors since I arrived at CIS. Bosses and coworkers have taken the time to explain tasks, learn about me, and discuss their roles at CIS. These discussions have helped me to gain a better understanding of how CIS operates, and the role of everyone within the organization, which is important as a member of the HR team. One of my main goals when I joined CIS back in August was to learn about how a nonprofit operates. In other words, what does it take for a nonprofit to operate effectively? My coworkers took the time to learn about my interests and have gone out of their way to help me learn and grow.

While this blog post focuses on my experiences, I would be doing a poor job expressing the incredible culture of CIS if I made it sound like the support I receive from the organization is unique. Every member of this organization devotes themselves completely to serving each other and the people in the community. In recent years, our Executive Director, Molly Shaw, has led the push to strengthen CIS’s culture and the bond between employees. We have had a chance to participate in a gratitude exercise, a holiday song competition, leadership style survey, and Halloween themed event (see earlier blog post). All of these events have given staff the opportunity to learn about each other, which has helped the organization to feel more like a family.

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