Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Over the past 19 years we've learned a few things about how to make a difference for girls.  A key strategy is to hire super talented and skilled youth workers, pay them competitive wages and provide a fun and stimulating work environment.  We also know they will probably only work for us for 2-3 years, (with 8 employees there isn't much room for growth).  So we weren't surprised when our Lead Case Manager, Frankie Roe, told us she is heading back to school in 2015. When her job posts later this week, we'd love to have your help referring qualified candidates.  Frankie has been with us for 3+ years and was instrumental in doubling the number of girls who access one-on-one support via Case Management. 

We did manage to find a creative way to interrupt this pattern - when Shalom Cook told us she was interested in transitioning from Case Manager to Employment Coordinator, we made it happen.  We also supported Shavon Hayes in switching from Powerful Choices Coordinator to Case Manager.  Girls and our partners will be lucky to access their expertise, and we are lucky to retain two stellar staff.

We also welcomed two new AmeriCorps Members last month.  Selena Velasco will be serving with our Powerful Choices groups and Paige Allison will be serving with Employment groups.  Check out their introductory blog posts:  Selena and Paige.

Powerful Volunteers

Painting.  Crafting.  Collecting.  Designing.  Shopping.  Creating.  Giving.

We have had some amazing volunteers support Powerful Voices this Fall.  Please take a moment to leave a comment on this post so they can feel the love from our community.

volunteers from Expedia painted the reception area and hallway
AmeriCorps Members and Microsoft volunteers painted staff offices
Outerwall, Inc hosted a work party to prep Luncheon centerpieces
look what two of our volunteers made for our office makeover
volunteer work party for the Day of the Girl Luncheon

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Meet Selena Velasco

Hello Powerful Voices family, friends, and community! My name is Selena Velasco and I am the new Powerful Choices AmeriCorps Member! I am so excited and honored to be a part of the wonderful Powerful Voices team! 

As a recent graduate from the University of Washington, I was in search of an
opportunity to combine and put into action my passions for social justice, feminism, and youth empowerment! Powerful Voices mission: “to invite girls to realize their dreams, engage their communities, and shape a more just world,” aligned with my desire to strengthen and empower young women’s voices, self-worth, and potential! 

As a feminist mother of color to a young boy, I am continually teaching my son about social justice issues! I am always learning and growing with him and I feel so blessed to be able to learn and grow with our girls as a co-facilitator of our group sessions! I look forward to creating dialogue and encouraging girls to think critically about issues that are most important to them.

My Role:
As the Powerful Choices AmeriCorps Member I will be supporting our Powerful Choices Coordinator as a co-facilitator in Denny and Asa Mercer International Middle Schools. My role also involves being the logistical lead at Denny International, working closely with schools and community partners, co-coordinating guest facilitators, providing resource referrals for youth, attending professional development trainings and developing curriculum to engage girls. I am really looking forward to building relationships with the girls during our one-on-one sessions and weekly girls group! I am also very excited to strengthen my facilitation skills and cultivate relationships with teachers, school staff, families and community partners! 

The Lunchroom Hustle
My first weeks with Powerful Voices have been very informative, interactive and fun! Currently, in preparation for our Powerful Choices program we are recruiting 8th grade girls at Asa Mercer and Denny International Middle Schools. One of my favorite activities is the Lunchroom Hustle! This is a fun interactive way to invite girls to learn more about Powerful Voices and the Powerful Choices all-girl group during lunch time and brought me back to my 8th grade year full of self-exploration, transition and growth!

During the Lunchroom Hustle the smell of cafeteria food, laughter, conversations, and high energy set the stage for us to engage with girls and talk about what issues most impacted them as girls. The issues that many girls wanted to speak about were: health, body image, relationships, and sexual harassment. We also asked what the phrase “powerful voices” meant to them. This phrase stirred up many meanings to them such as leadership, speaking up, strengthening their voices, and instilling confidence!  

I can’t wait to see if the Lunchroom Hustle was a warm welcoming for girls to join our Powerful Choices team! I look forward to sharing my journey as the Powerful Choices AmeriCorps Member with you all throughout the school year, especially as we near the kick-off of our first group sessions!



Intern -----> AmeriCorps Member

Paige performing with Y-WE

I’m back! So glad for the chance to be working at Powerful Voices again. This summer I was the Girls Rising intern and now am the Employment AmeriCorps Member. These first two weeks have been a blur. Settling back into to the groove of Powerful Voices culture, preparing for upcoming programs, and working at an actual desk has been refreshing (previously I’d worked standing up all day at a pizza place). Thus far, my schedule has been jam packed with training, professional development workshops and bonding time with my new coworkers.
   
Reading through our training material was surprisingly engaging. I remember thinking to myself: where else is watching a documentary that explores issues of homophobia, violence, masculinity and sexism in Hip-Hop part of the employee training manual? Where else is getting to know, and building strong relationships with your coworkers a priority? 

Nowhere I've worked, that's for certain! But, right about now I am lovin’ it. The fast pace training and program recruitment. The gratitude circles. The staff bonding retreat. All of the professional development opportunities. So grateful to be serving at such an awesome organization lead by WOMEN!

Why Am I Here?
Oh the great question...BUT at PV specifically, I am here to support our new Employment Coordinator, Shalom Cook, who recently transitioned from her role as Case Manager. PV offers stipend job readiness programs to high school age girls enrolled in the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (SYVPI). 

When learning about these programs, I reflected back to my own experience trying to navigate a balance of school and looking for work, which for me being 19 years old now, was not too long ago. I had my first experience living on my own at the age of 17. At the time I was doing Running Start so I had been taking college classes. Luckily for me I had a safe place to stay so that I could keep going to school. Coming up with money for books and other things to get by was difficult. Finding a job with such little job experience or training on how to get a job was a definite challenge. My age and also my gender played a lot into the struggle of finding work. The little experience that I did have was mostly in manual labor and being a petite, 17 year old girl wasn't what a lot of people were looking for in terms of heavy lifting. But in reality I still had it easier than a lot of people. I had the privilege of having a support system of really good friends. I was lucky enough to have people in my life who wanted me to succeed. 

Now that my life is stabilized and I feel fully self-sufficient, I hope to be a resource for young women like myself. I hope to provide tools that will better help young women find what self-sufficiency could look like in their own lives. My hopes are that girls feel that they are not only prepared, but feel empowered to work their way up to their dreams!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Program Evaluation Professional Development Opportunity

We are looking forward to attending the Center for Nonprofit Success seminar on Program Evaluation taking place in Seattle on October 14, 2014

We are excited to learn about different evaluation models and understand the limits of evaluation data, how to use it for the right purposes, and how it can best be used to determine the future direction of an organization. 

Here is the link to register: http://www.cfnps.org/14SEATLS8.aspx

We hope that you can join us!