I am new to blog writing and to be honest, have never even read a blog before. When checking out the blog of a former Executive Director of a youth development organization, I was inspired and reminded to share why I value the culture at Powerful Voices so much. In a blog post she wrote “My vision is a world where all people feel they belong and that they are valued and heard. We can make a difference by recognizing, acknowledging and appreciating the people in our lives who impact us” (http://www.moving-messages.com/blog). When you narrow down all the other reasons and complexities of why people do what they do, isn't that what all people are seeking?
As the Program Manager at PV, I have recently been working on promoting a volunteer opportunity that we have every year called Adult Allies (AAs). AAs are recruited from the community, have been socialized as female, are 21 years or older, and want to make a commitment to volunteer. Their role is to build solidarity with a group of women and develop meaningful, respectful relationships with the youth we serve in one of our employment programs, ActiveVistas. For more information on becoming an AA click here and for an AA application, which is due on October 25th, click here.
In crafting email blasts and flyers, networking and doing outreach I keep thinking, “How can we attract a diverse group of powerful women who can dedicate their time and energy, for free, to be allies”? And then I think, “and when we do, how can we make sure they are trained, consistent, challenged, do no harm, and genuinely feel appreciated”? These questions have run through my mind throughout my career. As a volunteer and now an employee of non-profits for over ten years, I know what it feels like to not be appreciated. Thankfully I also know what it feels like to be valued for who I am and the strengths that I bring. An AA from 2012 reminded me that the best gratitude and appreciation volunteers can receive from an organization is directly connected to their experience there and what they take away from it. In a focus group at the close of the program she shared:
“When I was younger I did not feel like a strong female and did not come into that realization until I was an adult. I learned I can really help facilitate young women realizing that they are strong and powerful. Actively working to empower young women of color is my life’s mission. It [this experience] has made me question the field of work I am in. In my career, how can I incorporate in the need for more women of color to feel powerful and be in positions of power? [In this program] I learned about myself, my own power, and the network that’s out there. There is an army of women out there that want the same thing”.
Working at Powerful Voices (PV) over the last four years has impacted my life professionally and personally. Professionally I have grown as a facilitator, mediator, supervisor, advocate, and ally. Personally I have deepened strength in my own identity and values, ability to listen, re-evaluated what it means to me to be successful, and learned how to be kinder to and take better care of myself. As my co-worker and friend put it today at lunch “I have learned that I am enough”. I hope that this inspires you to consider volunteering, appreciate those that impact you, and reminds you that you too are enough.