Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Allliance for Affordable Energy

Just A Rough Month

 I’ve just finished my third month working with the Alliance for affordable Energy, as their AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, and I just don’t feel I’ve accomplished much in the last three months.

The first month or so I thought went pretty well. I worked a handful of tabling events and felt I was learning the ropes to my new position, but this last month really took its toll on me.  I had one setback after another with projects I was involved in, and or responsible for.

The first setback was the mailing event we had at the end of April. It went terribly wrong. I had two interns help with some data entry, adding names to an excel document, which I gave them. We got the names they were adding to the excel document from the three hundred postcards we got filled out at the tabling events in March and April. These postcards were eventually sent to Commissioner Holloway in support of solar power and net-metering.

I made copies of the postcards and then the interns added them to the excel document and once they finished with the data entry I sent them to the Office Manager to print out. Everything seemed to go pretty smooth. Three of us stuffed the envelopes with the names and address on the envelopes and later that week we sent them off, but a week after mailing the three hundred envelopes, which cost hundreds of dollars in materials, did we get word that that somehow the last names got jumbled up.  This blunder, I had to admit was mine. I didn’t check the work with the original postcards, but instead used an already corrupted print out of all the names. Live and learn I guess.

The second setback could have been a disaster, and could have cost theAlliancethousands of dollars, but it was averted, but at a cost. It was the Whole Food 5% day application.  Whole Foods will donate 5% of its one day earning to the non-profit of its choice.  I’ve been working on the 5% application for over a month, and finally I felt it was ready to send off. Only to find that same day that the application I had originally started, but changed to a different 5% application a while back was in fact, the one I should have been using in the first place, and the only one most likely to be accepted. Why did I change it? I couldn’t tell you. All I know is that the one I should have filled out was specific not to just one, but to three stores in our area, and all three stores would be setting aside that 5% donation for that non-profit. Big Money!

Of course, I had to inform my Exec. Director, and I did right after I realized what I had done.  I returned to the original application and filled in as much information as I could, but there were questions I couldn’t answer, so my director took over the project, and eventually finished it and sent it off. I’m glad it got sent off, but I wanted to finish the application myself and send it off, but it wasn’t meant to be.

I thought it couldn’t get any worse, but this month I’ve been working hard recruiting for theAlliance, which isn’t an easy thing to do. It isn’t easy selling a 20-30 hour a week intern position that’s unpaid, and during summer break. I’ve only been able to fill two out of eight position, and it’s already been a month. I don’t know how many times I’ve hired an intern only to find out a day or two before they start that they found a paid position and won’t be able to volunteer. I’m happy that they found a paid position. It isn’t an easy thing to do these days, and I don’t blame them for taking the paid position, but it doesn’t help me do my job.

I know I’m whining; thanks for reading. I just had to get it off my chest, and hope I can do better the next three months. A quarter of my AmeriCorps experience is already over and I feel like I’m just starting to understand the job.


– Jon Scott, Tulane AmeriCorps VISTAAlliance for Affordable Energy




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Notes from the field from the AmeriCorps VISTA team at Tulane University.


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