Fighting Poverty with Passion
It’s that time of the year. I’d had bushes with it in the past at UNO. The Office of Student Involvement & Leadership would send out an outreach email to everyone on their listserv saying, “Take an Alternative Spring Break!” “PSSSSHHHH!” was my immediate reaction. I would’ve just been getting done with (or preparing for) midterms and community service would’ve been the last thing on my mind. Now that I’m on the other side, recruiting and managing these volunteers and their projects, I realize how ignorant I was to what this time of the year means for the nonprofit sector in New Orleans and elsewhere.
The process of putting together these events is (for me) stressful. One group can and will have several different interests and want to do different activities. Different activities usually means different community partners, different times, more donations, more supplies, more negotiations for projects, and more communication with the volunteer group leader as to what we’ve gathered for them so far. Once we have a collection of projects and an itinerary the group leader will approve or want to make adjustments which can start the process anew. To add on top of this, community partners don’t know when we will reach out to them with a volunteer group or how many people will be in it or their ages. So it is difficult to streamline this process. It’s like going to McDonalds and ordering a burger, except the crew has to butcher the cow.
The VISTAs after me will have to streamline this process. The key to growth for NetWork Voluntours and its mission (to expand the capacity of the non-profit sector) is clear, concise coordination of projects with its community partners. For the next VISTA, their alternative spring break should be as simple as selling apples rather than making hamburgers.