Fighting Poverty with Passion
The past month has been my most challenging and rewarding time as a VISTA. With Emilie out on maternity leave, I had to take on more responsibilities as Project Manager and coordinate our Summer Fellows and our summer projects.
These five students were great to work with, making my job that much easier. They worked really well as a team which was perfect for the collaborative nature of our projects. It was a lot of work to plan 8 weeks of full time work for everyone, but it was also a lot of fun to oversee their work as it was developing, and support them along the way. Each week I outlined a schedule for the Fellows work for the week, including meetings with community partner organizations, community engagement activities, and reviews with TCC staff. Every Wednesday I coordinated field trips and reading discussions. The program was structured in a way that allowed an intensive two week investigation for each of our project types “Imagine, Explore, Inform, and Build”, as outlined by our 2015 Strategic Plan, as well as time for several smaller projects.
Our “Imagine” project streams result in a visioning booklet for our partner organization to use as a tool to gain support in the early stages of a project. This summer we worked with City Park on a design for a campground in the park for an uninhabited island-a project I hope comes to fruition in the near future! We were given permission to camp on site and canoe around the island, which was fun and useful for thinking about design strategies. I was happy to see some of my reccomendations made it into their designs.
Our “build” project scheduled for the summer fell through, and I suggested we do another small project with APEX Youth Center. It was difficult to work around this last minute shift in the program, but I was glad we could work with APEX again and the project turned out great! It was fun to engage the kids at APEX in the design process and I think they enjoyed the experience as well. We also partnered with the NET Charter High School construction class to brainstorm designs for outdoor games for the playground. We ended up constructing three shade sails for the playground and the basketball court, and installing a series of silhouettes of kids playing to act as signage and to brighten up the space.
As the summer comes to a close, so will my time at Tulane City Center. It has been such a great experience and I have learned so much thanks to the staff at TCC and Tulane Center for Public Service and my fellow VISTAS.
Soon I will be taking the position of Construction Manager at Youth Rebuilding New Orleans. A huge thank you to former VISTA Jack Styczynski for recommending me for the position, which is a great match for my interests and experience. I am sad to be leaving TCC but excited to begin this new role, working with youth and rebuilding homes in New Orleans.