Fighting Poverty with Passion
With 2014 coming to a close, I will say a few words to reflect on my experience these past few months. To say that I have grown would be a glaring understatement. Taking on VISTA this year has completely uprooted the world that I know best. It has stretched me to adapt to a salary and lifestyle that I was not accustomed to. It has removed me from the comfort of the academic routine and college campus that defined me for so long. It has exposed the less flashy aspects of being an adult, like hauling grocery bags bigger than myself, fighting roaches in my apartment, falling ill, dealing with credit card fraud, losing a longstanding relationship, becoming incredibly homesick, and barely being able to pay my bill after fixing my car. I have accepted that everyday struggles of this nature, (which are probably exacerbated by a touch of poverty), are the truths that many others live, breathe, and eat, to a much more painful degree for a much longer period of time. It has made me all the more passionate to work for an organization that tries to reclaim the power for the people. It may sound weird, but these periods of challenge have brought new light into the way I see things. I am growing to be more empathetic to the struggles of others while becoming more independent and resilient myself. And I am continuously learning to set realistic expectations and find joy in the simple things.
My friends at OPEN have been emotionally supportive all along the way. I have deeply enjoyed working in this dynamic organization alongside coworkers with such big hearts. We laugh through our frustrations with each other and always pull together our game plans. Despite the ground beneath us shifting every now and then, we work hard at our work without compromising our spirits. The most important thing I learned from OPEN in 2014 is to embrace change as the only constant. Much like our own lives, no month at work looks exactly like the one before it. Our focus shifts constantly, from the Convening to the OPEAs, from the EPFP to the PLTI. This constant rise and fall of the tide has grown on me and it brings me joy whenever we shift gears into our next big project. I am excited for our new “School Readiness” initiative to take the spotlight for 2015. I am eager to keep rolling with the changes that lie out of our control, both professionally and personally. And I am truly grateful for the lessons that 2014 has brought.