As I happily reflect, know that I am still in disbelief that it is already time to wrap my internship with FACES food pantry. Through out my time with FACES, I was given challenges, projects, advice and an irreplaceable experience. My struggles aren’t complaints. In fact, they may be what I am most grateful for. I have a great love for FACES food pantry. I guarantee its impact on me and the community will long outlast my residency in Farmville. With all that being said, below you’ll find my not so sugarcoated reflection of my experience.
Easy as Pie?
Whoever said making pie was easily obviously hasn’t made pie crust from scratch. I’m going to be presumptuous and say that whoever that was bought the already made dough and filling. PIE IS NOT EASY. Pie dough is actually super finicky and you have to work worth it a lot until you get it right. So, contrary to popular comparison, I would say this internship was as challenging as a homemade pie crust with no rolling pin, while you are almost out of flour. To put it simply, it was tough. Maybe this is going to make me seem like the young and inexperienced twenty-one year old that I am, but it was more work than I anticipated. Behind the chaos that any volunteer can see, there are about six or seven main individuals behind the curtain making a majority of the calls. Prior to my internship I had this idea that ,because they were all working for the same cause, they would be a harmonious and agreeable group of leaders. That was a bit unrealistic of me, I must admit. I thought that everyone would be on the same page. However, sometimes people weren’t on the same page. Sometimes it was because they didn’t want to be and other times because they were caught unaware. When it comes down to it, tough decisions have to be made and in many cases strong opinions have to conceit to move forward. At times it was hard to watch because the tension seemed unresolved. This was tough to get used to and sometimes hard to work with. The most challenging part of my internship for me personally, was finding who to take orders from. It seemed easiest to just follow my supervisor, however, while she is influential she doesn’t make all the calls and listening to her over another could disrupt the system. I struggled to feel comfortable while making decisions in the heat of the moment. It was difficult learning to find and test my limits. I wanted to be challenged with the projects I took on, but I also didn’t want to overestimate my abilities. I wanted to be ambitious and rational which to too often presented me with an internal struggle that I didn’t know how to fight. Begrudgingly, I confess that some days I put too much pressure on myself and became emotionally drained. Some days it was hard to submit to my alarm’s demands. It was hard to ask people for help. All in all this was very hard, but more than anything it was worth it.
Not quite my Niche
I would like to pursue an organization that has the mission that FACES does, however, I do not feel like a food pantry is necessarily where I’ll find my niche. FACES has both reaffirmed and challenged what I thought I wanted to do. It is an organization centered around the idea of “neighbors helping neighbors”. I love that. It doesn’t make volunteers out to be hero that above those they serve. It implies a relationship that comes with responsibility to take care of one another rather than a self-righteous obligation. Whether it be a non-profit or another organization with a mission, I’d like to establish relationships with other groups of people for a greater cause. I want to pursue a career that allows me to help to create a culture that considers community to be more than people within a proximity. In my job search I will undoubtedly need to find an organization with a mission I am passionate about, but I will not necessarily limit that to a non-profit. This experience has given me an idea of what to look for.
I’ve still got Goals to reach and work to do
I’m happy with how I’ve evolved thus far, but I am fully aware that I’ve still got a lot of growing to do.
I’ve learned how to work under pressure, serve along side others, manage people, and use my time wisely. As my roles changed from week to week, I’ve also learned to be a part of a team, follow directions, and to take initiative. I’m still working on it, but I learned to be respectful yet assertive while devising tasks. All of which I learned during distribution. I’ve gotten less apologetic and more bold in my request. I’m still learning, but have gotten better at being more clear and confident while asking for help. I’ve have a better idea of how to reach out, create, and promote with other organizations and businesses. Creating awareness is an exciting challenge that takes some trail and error. This has reinforced the importance of creating and maintaining genuine relationships with others.
I achieved my goals though listening to my supervisor and doing what was asked of me. Each week I met with my supervisor and she gave me the promotional tasks such as the press release and list of events she had me attend. My supervisor, Linda, has always been honest with me. She also let me know what I needed to work on and let me know when she was impressed. She gave me tips for each fundraiser and event. She helped me learn how to approach people and to not be afraid to use my personality. She let me know how tough it can be working with a non-profit organization but also encouraged me to stick with it. The Live Music Food drive was an event at Uptown cafe. It gave us the opportunity to collect monetary and canned donations. I created the flyer and went to the event to represent FACES.
10/10 would intern again
I would suggest this internship to anyone who wants to be challenged an help. It may not be super organized, professional, or convenient but it is influential. It gives you great real life experience through its press releases, advertising, fundraising, and interpersonal skills. I cannot imagine that anyone could come out of this internship with the same perspective you walked in with.
The picture below shows a few sisters of Sigma Alpha Omega volunteering for distribution. Distribution is our predominate way of giving out the food we have to those who need it. Being crew chief is where I learned what I mentioned earlier such as devising task in a clear and respectful way. On Saturday mornings you could find me either in the back doing paperwork or in the front handing bags out to clients.
I cannot stress enough that all the early mornings, sacrificed Saturdays, hard work, and necessary chaos are worth it in the end. As much as I wanted to help my neighbors, my neighbors helped me.