Fighting Poverty with Passion
|Another month, another dollar less my paycheck seems to work out to per hour. April was a very intense month for me. I worked crazy hours and did not get a full day off all month. I feel like I am constantly working to meet some deadline (it’s not just a feeling, I often AM working to meet some deadline) for projects, applications, and grants that are assigned to me mere days in advance of the due date. That coupled with desperately trying to round up all of the service learning students we are working with to ensure that they finished their hours and projects certainly made for a very stressful month. From the start of the month I was anxiously anticipating the end of the month! It was a bit of a challenge, but I made it out alive and triumphant (for the most part).
I really started to get worried when it was less than two weeks until the end of the semester for Tulane students and I only had three students out of twenty-five who had completed their projects or had reached their hour requirement. And then, of course, just as any good college student tends to do, I began receiving frantic requests for hour completion in the last week of class. I’m still not quite sure how the students and I were able to coordinate schedules in order for the students to complete their projects, but we did it! All but one student completed their project and some of the students turned out some really impressive, very useful projects. I was amazed that some of the students, even those who admittedly waited until the last minute, were able to product such cohesive projects. We received several strategic marketing plans, a comprehensive Twitter marketing plan, several tangible items that can be used in marketing in the future, a video that will be used on our updated volunteer page of our website, some great responses from tabling events, and about $400 total from a few students that did fundraising activities!
So, considering that the service learning students may have caused me immense stress in the final weeks of the month, but that it totally paid of in the resultant products of their projects, I guess Green Light had a pretty good experience working with the Tulane students overall. I definitely learned a lot about what to do and what to avoid in the future when working with students. It also taught me to stick to my guns if I have a suggestion about how to best manage service learning students. At the start of the semester I suggested several steps and created an agreement document to ensure that the students take responsibility for their projects and contacting Green Light with scheduling time to complete their hours. This document was not accepted by my supervisor- it was thought to be too demanding and not “in tune” with the way we generally operate at Green Light. It has now been made evident that holding the students more accountable and presenting that accountability to them in a clearly defined way at the beginning of the semester is probably a pretty good idea. The biggest lesson I learned from our students was that I have to be more assertive in my proposals for improvement if I am going to accomplish what I wish to during my time at Green Light.
I will continue to work on this assertiveness in the coming months. This will also apply to volunteer management (which I still have not had a chance to do anything with) and grant writing/fundraising. Green Light must move away from relying on its past funders, multiple small grants, and staff persona to generate support for operations. I have been handed grant after grant, scrambled to get them in within the few days that have been allowed, and cross my fingers just long enough until it happens again a few days later. I have not received any notification that these grants proposals have generated any funds, and though I know that that is the grant writing game, it is getting a bit disheartening. I personally do not enjoy any part of writing grant proposals. I understand that grant writing is a potential aspect of being a VISTA, I just feel that if I had a few days even to take a break from applying to small grants I could better utilize the skills I have acquired and produce a profitable fund-generating activity of some sort (even if it is another grant, it’d be nice to have extended time to dedicate to it). So that is my resolution to myself for the coming months: I will begin asserting my opinion on how to move Green Light forward, and I will strive to demonstrate that my proposals are viable for the organization’s sustainability…Wish me luck! -Lindsey Roper, AmeriCorps VISTA
To learn more about Green Light New Orleans, visit their website at: http://greenlightneworleans.org.