Fighting Poverty with Passion
The only two projects now standing between me and my last day are the April newsletter and the sustainability binder to pass along to the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights’ next VISTA member. Surprisingly, the binder is giving me a rather hard time, though for a cool reason: I didn’t realize how much institutional knowledge I’d gained over the last two years. It’s a lot—and now it needs to be written down and saved somewhere. The task is much more substantial than I assumed.
My first strategy was to work with the job description and under each task, provide a detailed description of best practices for carrying it out. That not only leaves out important information, it overlaps and is actually poorly organized. For future VISTAs, the best advice I can give is to look to your cohort when struggling with something like this. A few weeks ago, we were shown some examples of binders that were successfully completed and well put together. I’m reaching out to those people now for direction with my own binder.
The other project is the April newsletter, which will be the last of nearly 19 newsletters I’ve crafted for the organization: drafting content, choosing photos, writing headlines, editing, etc. The first year, each individual newsletter seemed like a behemoth. We generally featured four stories, each about 800 words long. With no meaningful experience in reporting, it was time consuming to write a piece that I felt comfortable sharing with 1,000 of our readers. We now have 2,000 readers and shortened the pieces to around 500 words, which helps me breathe easier.
Looking back, I’ve had the opportunity to cover some amazing people and topics: staff profiles; executive directors and program managers at partner organizations like Center for Restorative Approaches, Café Reconcile, and Youth Empowerment Project; the crises in Louisiana juvenile defense counsel; legislative bills that threatened the safety and well-being of children. As I was applying for jobs with legal nonprofits just the other night, I realized all of the writing, interviewing, and researching I’ve done has given me a strong understanding of the justice system and how it affects the people its designed to serve (though too often fails). It’s an empowering feeling and one I hope all VISTAs feel as they wrap up their terms.