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Friday, August 29, 2008

cause service rocks my socks

Are you getting served???


you lika the happy

No one came into the office yesterday, which was fine because I was able to get so much work done.
I'm looking forward to getting some more things checked off the to-do list today as well because we're officialy closed to the public. I love being able to come to work in a sweatshirt and jeans.
Yeah, it has been pretty chilly and I'm starting to realize that it's not getting warmer. It's just chilly to me.

Hey so for those that would like more info about what I do and see the awesome CEO and founder that makes all of this work possible, you can check out this video...http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/15562744#15562744.

I'm looking forward to the weekend. I have to work Saturday but I have Sunday and Monday off for both days. The first time in weeks, I haven't had to work. Days off to just enjoy my freedom and time. Yeahhhhh!

Okay, let's roll!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

eating too much mac and cheese for lunch


There is a warm place in my heart for the world of nonprofits. I still want to be involved in reform for the nonprofit sector especially in knowledge and information management. Pop!

they say in heaven, love comes first

I came in to work early today because I anticipated a huge flow of people in the morning.
Yet our neighboors (I'm trying to get away from calling them clients) showing up to their appointment is unfortunately not very common. What tends to happen is that people will just show up all in the afternoon, especially people who don't have an appointment. I have one woman who is coming who just got kicked out of her apartment, shes 7 mos pregnant and has a nine year old son. I've been collecting some housing resources and trying to connect with this organization that specifically works with low-income women
http://wcrpphila.com/Fracontact.html. But they aren't answering their phones or aren't there I don't know.
Shawn is out of the office today and tomorrow so I'm hanging loose on my own. We also have our information session for new volunteers today. But it is welcome week at Temple, so I don't expect a huge turnout. It's one of three. I loved being on campus yesterday, it just felt really good, seeing all the students and their families and such.
I have a ton of other work today, including compiling our monthly report and working on notes for the meeting I have with the director of community relations next Tuesday. But I'll take a break to give y'all a shout out while I transition mindsets from client meetings to administrative tasks.
In other news, I have roaches in my apartment. I've seen two but I think if you see two then that means there's more. I'll admit my apartment is definetely not the cleanest place lately, so I really can't blame them. But all I want to do is go home and clean my apartment and set up roach traps. Oh how I long for the time of 20 legged house centipedes.
I had a really good conversation with a good friend last night which reminded me of how much I don't want to lose touch with the people that I had the fortune of meeting in my years at UF. I feel so self-concious and clingy lately but I am very much a relationship person and I value those strong relationships in my life and I don't want to lose them. I've learned in the last year that relationships don't just magically stay in tact. You have to work at them and tend to them. I've been lucky to regain my friendships with two really good and wonderful girls who have such a warm place in my heart.
Talking about being 'busy' I really need to stop signing up for volunteering. I'm even thinking about taking time of at Lush to sign up for volunteer projects. Moderation, girlie, moderation. There are just so many issues I'm interested in learning about and opportunities I want to be involved in. Since we can't be involved in political or advocacy things as AmeriCorp workers I might need to take time off at the end of the month because their is this demonstration happening at City Hall for affordable housing, especially for low-income women. I just feel like I want to be apart of that because it is such a big issue. But we will see, moderation. Maybe it's because I'm a tiger http://pages.infinit.net/garrick/chinese/tiger.html
But anyway, I think my mindset is coming back and now I can continue working on designing our trainings and volunteer packets and blah blah. Okay, ciao!

Quote:There is really nothing you must be. And there is nothing you must do. There is really nothing you must have. And there is nothing you must know. There is really nothing you must become. However it helps to understand that fire burns, and when it rains the earth gets wet. Japanese Zen Scroll

Song: The heart of the matter by Don Henley

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

don't stop believing

Our office got robbed today.
Shawn and I had left the office to put some fliers on campus and stop in on our University partners. When we got back, our phones were gone as well as Shawn's backpack. We had a client so I met with him while Shawn got things sorted out.
He seems very very frustrated. Its his fourth time getting robbed in the city and he just seems to be taking it hard. I can only imagine. His car keys and house keys were in there as well as our office key. He filed a police report and the building staff seems to be really supportive.
It's unclear of who did it although we have an idea. Not a client though.
I just worked with two really wonderful clients. One is this guy who has all of these business ideas and the other was this sweet 18 year old girl. Sometimes I just really enjoy my job.

a very new soul

So yesterday night after work (Lush) I had a hankering sweet tooth (what else is new.) I stopped over to Starbucks to pick up a little pastry. To my wonder and surpise they had this wonderful little treat known as a rainbow cookie which had M&M's in it, I mean that sounds good right?
It was beyond bad, it was very thick and not even in a creamy gooey way. As I was eating it an I thought, man this would only be a good cookie with some coffee. Imagine that, a pastry at Starbucks that would only taste good with coffee. So that got me to thinking about the our society as a whole.
In the world of business and suprisingly non-profits as well, there is a focus on serving to customers rather than serving to people. Insteading of creating goods and services that empower people and give them the ability to make choices, we create goods and services that make people dependent on things and engulf them in this cycle of buy buy buy or take take take. It's one of the reasons I've enjoyed working at Lush, because we serve people not customers. We give them products that are made with ethical ingredients that will free them rather than trap them in a consumer cycle. You know most lotions have added filler chemicals that actually make the skin drier so that you constantly need to apply. You then use up the bottle and surprise surprise your back for more.
The same thing can happen in the non-profit sector as well. We create services, programs and service projects that serve clients rather than people. Through that language and mindset, we trap people in a dependent cycle on what we're shelving out. We'd be more effective as a whole if we learn to serve people, all of their needs and thier ability to be empowered. Again, why I love NSP. I believe it has that ability, it's apart of our mission:
NSP’s mission is to direct the energy and innovation of young people toward ensuring that all community members have access to the services, opportunities, and attention that they need to pursue employment, self-sufficiency, and personal success.
With each of my clients I try to think, how do I get them to become empowered and not dependent. How am I approaching them or servicing them and what effect will this have on their long term ability to succeed?
It's daunting never the less.

So the astronauts and astronomers, keep thinking, I'll blog it later.
Our client flow has definetely picked up and there is still so much work to be done with recruitment and preparing for training. I live by to-do lists or I would never get anything done or time or at all. I get sidetracked very easily with new ideas for something else while I'm working on a project.
I once went back to my high school and, at the time, I was really interested in becoming a social worker. I told one of my teachers this and she very diplomaticly told me that that wouldn't be the right career for me. She said that I would be consistetly frustrated with what I saw and what I knew and wouldn't have the ability, in that position, to make the change I could and wanted to make. She couldn't have been more right. I love what I do, but every day is so frustrating because I think, with all the manpower and all the services and all the focus why hasn't more been done effectively. Because I know that things have been done, money spent, time invested but effectively. The US census press release on poverty came out yesterday http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/income_wealth/010583.html if you're interested. Sidetrack, anyway.
I had a client yesterday who wanted so badly to get out of the situation he was in, but harsh reality is that no matter how much he believes in himself or how much ability he has, their are so many forces against him. We as a community can fight them though, we have to.

Quote: If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin. Charles Darwin

Quote (2): It would be nice if the poor were to get even half of the money that is spent in studying them. Bill Vaughan

Quote (3): The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied...but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing. John Berger

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

how far we go...

In the world of social services and social change and policy there are bascially two types of people: astronauts and astronomers.

Think about, I'll blog about it later.

dress you up in my love

So after this morning, I should enter in next years Olympics for "barely catching the subway but running through just as the door closes." Just as I had gotten through the Broad Street Line though, I realized I couldn't move. I kept pulling forward but to no avail. Looking behind me I realized that my bag had gotten caught between the doors as it closed. Fortunately, the guy standing there helped me pull it through.

I had a good weekend and now that I'm finished with training at LUSH I'm just doing 13 hour weeks there, nice. I'm getting more comfortable with all the merchandise but ofcourse every day I get hit with something I wasn't expecting, or a customer asks me a question that reminds me of how much more I need to study. I try to make it to habit to come in everyday doing better and knowing more than I did the last shift.

Still in heavy recruitment planning and doing as well as outreach to clients. Got some fliers and hope to do some fliering of the campus today.

Working with the clients has been very rewarding this week. I had one guy who came in yesterday really in need of a job, and we were able to get him an interview right away.

I really do love Philly. I've signed up to do some volunteering around the city just to learn more about it, get to know some people and because I just love it. I'm going to be a volunteer at the Philadelphia Marathon in November working at the Information desk which I can't wait for. Yeah!

I've been spending a lot more time reflecting. I'm trying to understand what my values are and what is guiding me. I think I have an idea but it would be good to have a stronger clarification. For example this week I'm focusing on the value of service. What does it mean to me and what does it mean as I see it display throughout my life. Every night when I journal I write about how I let my value of service guide decisions I made or how I might need to improve on letting that value lead me. It's been very helpful. Service for me means going the extra mile. When I'm working with my clients I attempt to go the extra mile rather than just doing what they expect me to do or what is easiest to do. It's like pushing myself up a steep hill.

Toodles all,

You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it's a little thing, do something for others - something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it. Albert Schweitzer

Friday, August 22, 2008

turning the tide

I have begun to feel progressively worse.
I got a call from my manager today asking if I could come into work because someone had called out sick but I let them know I def. could not. Yesterday by the time I got home I had a weird fever and slept for like three hours. Today I'll probably leave early and try to get in some good rest.

This morning Shawn and I had a meeting with one of our community partners, Pennsylvania Careerlink. But the person that was supposed to meet with us was out of the office sick. It was hard finding someone else because apparently a lot of people had called out of the office. But we met with Lance and he walked us through. Careerlink is a one stop shop for job seekers and employers throughout Pennsylvania. We got a walkthrough of the system and how to assist people finding jobs. It was very refreshing, I'm a little furstrated with our current methods of finding people jobs and I'm happy to see that we have more resources in our hands and stronger connections in the community.

I'm a little frustrated that I couldn't get more done this week, but nevertheless I gotta leave work for next week.
I have work this weekend. Hopefully I don't have to work on Sunday. I'm also meeting a couple who are friends with someone I know that works at UF. I'm really excited!

Yadda yadda yadda. My head hurts, I can't wait to go home.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

zoom zoom zoom

My body is finally adjusting to my new schedule and I feel a lot more perked up.
I finished my last training at Lush last night but I still have to some studying on things.

Work has been like a roller coaster.
I've learned that's it is important for me to write down my feelings and goals so that I can better understand what they are and more effectively communicate them to the people I work with. I don't know if there are ever any work environments that you exist in where every person thinks and feels the same things that you do. I imagine if there were, even though they would be comfortable places, they would be profoundly boring. I've come to understand that the diversity in every person's values and viewpoints can enrich the environment. At least in theory. In the everyday swing of it, it's difficult for me to continuously find that balance of listening to my own needs while heeding the needs of others, but I value harmony and community in the organization, not just getting my way.

My apartment is a complete mess but I just haven't had the energy to clean it. I also forgot to pay my electricity and gas bills. My electricity bill is due tomorrow, so I'll have to stop by there in the morning before work. I also signed up for automatic bill pay on the website, cause quite honestly, I'm sure I'll forget every month. I still have time to send in my gas bill, so no worries on late payments or such yet. I was really afraid of those bills but my electricity was only 30 bucks and my gas was only around 20. I'm not sure how I pulled that off, but I'm thankful and hope it stays around that level. I'm starting up saving now for the winter. I live in a pretty small studio though and my sink is right over the dryer in the basement. Warm muggy air usually surfaces from there. I guess I'll see.

I'm starting to feel a little under the weather. Probably all of the work. I've had a really weird earache. One of the girls I've been training with had the west nile virus, awesome. Theirs been some sort of outbreak which I think is really unusual. For the most part, I think I'm fine. Fortunately I've been eating a lot better, in spite of my ravenous sweet tooth.

Alrighty then, I'm outy.

Song: New Soul by Yael Naim

Quote: A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral. Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

there's a hole in the world

I have a ball of frustration in the middle of my chest.

Either way, the day must go on. I have to work tonight and I wish I could just call in sick or something because I'm very tired and I just want to go home and clean up my very dirty apartment. Yesterday, I got a box from home which was really exciting. It included all of these wonderful little trinkets which I was super exctied about including a new straightner, thanks mom!

I had a really great conversation with one of my clients today. Because I was helping her she decided to help me with some info about Philly. She was really surprised that I didn't have a television and gave me some places to go. It was really awesome. I admit I was caught off guard because I wasn't expecting to receive any help but a wonderful surprise.

The Penn region had a conference call about recruitment where we shared best practices. Our organization is in a different groove than almost everyone else. At this point we don't really have any returning volunteers and we don't know much about the culture of Temple. I wish we had a strong corp already, then my role would be an advisor, inspiring the students to do more, be more and lead more. But at the state our office is in we are mainly trying to build a strong base of committed volunteers to best serve our clients.

I think there are some fundamental differences on how to go about this and what is best between me, my co and the other SC from West Philly. Taking everyone's ideas and molding them into what is best for the organization is such a duanting task. But I see it this way. If you put a painter, a decorater, a plumber and an electrician in a new house and asked them what is the best thing and most important thing to do for the house they would all have different ideas. Neither one of them has the ulitmate truth, they all have different views because those different views can work together to make the house as beautiful as possible. But sometimes people just want to assert their validity and how right they are rather than just having pride in what they do and appreciatin that all the other people know what they're doing and want to see a beautiful house as well.

This is life. Learning how to work with other people to achieve a common mission. I feel like I'm at the base of the tower of Bable and God has just confused our languages and we can't complete our task.

Blob, blob, blob.
I've learned something. Country music really relaxes me, especially anything by Reba, Faith or Martina. I think because it reminds me of Virginia and I always get this sense of calm. I love the melodies of country music as well.

So yeah, the day continues. I hope everyone in Florida is well oh that reminds me. So yesterday there was a man in the office who was planning to move to Florida and was trying to remember the name of the organization that his sister worked at where he wanted to apply to work. He mentioned it was in Gainesville and so Shawn montioned to me. The guy was like, yeah it's a home for disabled adults. I was like Tacachale. And he was like yeah. Apparently they had been searching for like five minutes and the man couldn't remember. I love it when things like that happen.


Did I ever mention I was on the website

Song: I'm gonna take that Mountain by Reba Mcinitire

You're gonna Be by Reba Mcinitire

Quote: Logic is superficial, life goes deeper, and in life all opposites are joined together, they exist together. Remember this, because then meditation becomes balancing. Nipun Mehta

Monday, August 18, 2008

sleepy the dwarf

I'm. Exhausted.

I did twelve hours this weekend at LUSH. Fun but very very tiring. I did five hours on Saturday, my first non-training shift. I was on the floor and it was very nervewracking. We hadn't gone over hair and skin products yet so I was mostly sticking around to the other stuff and deferring to people who I knew were more informed. Sunday was fun, even though it started at 8am with training. We had a 'beat the heat' party so we all got to wear ice blue and glitter and there was glitter and balloons all over the store. We were very busy, which made the day pass by fast but was still very tiring.
I really enjoy my job there. I love meeting people and learning about them and helping them find what they need. Almost every customer that I spend time with usually tracks me down before they leave to thank me for my help and let me know what they bought, it's so sweet. Now that I'm getting more comfortable with all of our products and knowing what to offer when someone comes in and says "I have oily roots but dry hair" I'm enjoying myself more. Plus I work with really fun people.
I went home and got some much needed things done like grocery shopping and oh oh oh, guess what???
I bought my first piece of furniture. It's a little green sofa that has a fold out bed and I have been so happy. It was only 35 bucks from this used furniture place. It had a huge stain on one of the cushions which I was able to get out with some $5 stuff rom K-mart (although the foam left other stains, booh). It has charm. It's not perfect but I love it soooo much. I get so excited to come home now and sit on my SOFA rather than just plopping down on my air mattress. I'm so thankful for everything I have, but this sofa has made me so very happy.

Work today has been busy. Now that our summer directors are gone, Shawn and I are doing a lot more client service. Now we're learning to juggle our clients goals as well as our own goals for the week. One of the guys I was working with this morning got an interview for a job, so excited am I. I than got a call from a woman from a local church. She had a woman there who was left with a one month old baby and she couldn't afford diapers. I let her know I would try to locate some resources and get back to her. I called around to a few places, WIC and such and then remembered my contact from Congreso. Daniel had e-mailed me earlier this week about hosting some teen mothers to teach them about job-readiness. I called him to see if the organization had some information programs and he let me know she could stop by because there was probably something they could do. Yeah for contacts and awesome service providers.

Shawn and I had our weekly meeting which was productive. I'm so bummed because I missed the application deadline for a table at TempleFest but hopefully we can jump on some other opportunities.

Now that I'm working more directly with clients and on client needs it adds the other half or at least another piece to my experience. The contrast between what I help people find at LUSH and what I help people find here at work is quite interesting. The difference is not just the needs of our clients but their states of existence as well are at times unsettling. It'll be an interesting balance throughout the year.

I'm really excited about the opportunity I have here in the North Philly community. The opportunity to work with these people to help them find what they need and give them some chance of hope. I'm also learning about the focus on the student volunteers experience. I believe it's important also. It's important to frame this experience and move them through it so that they can recieve the most benefits from it. It doesn't overshadow our service to community members but taking responsibility of their experience and development has value.

I'm reading this really funny and interesting book called Generation Me: Why todays young American's are more confident, assertive, entitled and more miserable than ever before. It's like the opposite of the other book I've been reading "On my Own" but helps me understand why I'm probably so into that book. It talks about how my generation has grown up with such a focus on self-esteem and how important we are that we have developed these egotistical almost narcisstic personalities. We also have overly-inflated ideas of what we can do and are more indvidiualistic than group orientated. We think more about ourselves, loving our selves, doing what's best for ourselves, than we do about community or other people. Coincedentally our generation has higher divorce rates, less political participation (unless we can see how it benefits us) and just plain people looking out for number one. At first I was really disheartened by it but I can see how the arguments have validity. Especially in context to why our generation has a hard time understanding the issues that are the foundation to the social inequalities inherent in our society. The book argues that our generation has been raised with this mentality that if you believe in yourself anything is possible. The issue is that we not only believe this for ourselves but as just a general truth of life.
Some problems with that are that it doesn't take into account that there are unforseeable and unchangable things in people's life that will keep them down regardless of how much they believe in themselves. The author writes "Learning to believe in yourself doesn't help much when your mom is addicted to crack and you're afraid to walk home from school." It's been an interesting and revealing read. I think its one of the reason so many people believe that homeless or poor people just don't work hard enough. When you're so priveleged with so many opportunities you can't see how you have extra levels of support which pushed you forward and how people without them are like one-legged people trying to run in a marathon.

Yeah, so busy and tired. indeed.

Quote: (Hugh Downs)"Could it be that self-esteem, real self-esteem, comes from esteeming other people and not thinking so much about yourself, to begin with?" (Barbara Walters) "Oh, Hugh! First of all, you have to like yourself before you can like others."
Marinate on that one folks.

Friday, August 15, 2008

...the master calls a butterfly

On my walk to work today, I was followed by a butterfly. It had these large glorious wings and I'm not sure if it was the deliourseness of my exhaustion from the week or reality, but they flapped so powerfully in the morning air, I could feel it on my face. It was unusual to be followed for two minutes by a butterfly on a busy city street. I couldn't see any butterfly plants nearby, so I couldn't explain it but the most wonderful things in life are wonderful because they exhaust our human need to explain them. It was simply a beautiful and wonderful surprise.

I would like to give a shout out to Jacqui. I recieved your card last night and it made me so amazingly happy. It was such a blessing in ways I can not adequatly verbalize. I'm glad that my blog has inspired you, thank you for sharing that with me. And I will definetely enjoy some wonderful treats with your gift. If you ever make it to Philly, please stop by. I would love to introduce you to the city that has become the love of my life.

Last night we left the office early to take our SD's to dinner. Then I was off to LUSH for a night of training. We are now onto skin and hair products and I'm going to have to spend extra time studying because their are so many products for so many different types. I went home with a ton of hair products which I was definetely in need of because my hair has been really dry and since cut it (yes mom, I cut my own hair) it has been really fluffy.

I went home with our Godiva shampoo bar. Our shampoo bars are a unique take on liquid shampoo. LUSH prides itself on its fresh, organic ingredients and ethical pruduction of products. Over 66% of LUSH products are free of preservatives. Our solid shampoo bars are completely free of perservatives. In addition one shampoo bar is equivalent to 3 250 mL shampoo bottles. So with one bar, you feel your hair with natural and organic products which work with your hair to revive it's natural state and you protect the environment from more waste. Fantastic! I also got to take home a hair treatment and a solid conditioner. Plus they had extra face masks in the frig we got to take home. All LUSH facemasks are the epitome of fresh products. They are made fresh every week and sent to our stores directly. At the end of the week masks from the week before are taken off the shelf, ensuring the freshest possible products for the customer. Then they go to us, yeah!

Today our summer directors are leaving and I am surely sad. Our clients seem to be taking the news hard as well. I'll miss them dearly but look forward to our new volunteers in the fall.

I'm looking forward to enjoying my afternoon. I don't know what I'll do first. It'll be nice to just have my own time for myself.

Here is something cool I found out. Some major universities such as Yale and MIT offer free courses online. Check out some Berkeley classes here http://webcast.berkeley.edu/courses.php. The have some classes on information policy which I'm really excited about.

I will see you! A.k.a blog you later.

Quote:So, as you embark on this grand journey to find your path, remember that in both the good times and bad times a butterfly can flap its wings at any moment and present you with an opportunity that could change the course of your life. And while you won’t know the outcome of taking any of those infinite paths, know that if you find something you love, work as hard as you possibly can, make the best decision at that moment, over time you will pave the path that is perfect for you.Stephanie Abrams, UF Commencement Ceremony

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Work has been pretty steady this week. We are still in a heavy recruitment phase for volunteers as well as outreach for the community to make them aware of our services.
Work has definetely had its challenges this week but what would life be without hurdles to cross.
I have been very tired in the morning, still adjusting to coming back from training and working at LUSH. I worked 9-9 yesterday, the beginning of months of 12 hour days. But I got a ton of products to take home. Tonight we are learning about facial products so I got face washes, face masks toners, and a sample of our $90 moistrizer gorgeous. It smells so beautiful. I'm really getting spoiled with all of these products. I can't wait to take a shower or bath every morning but I don't think this is a habit I can afford to keep up. I mean taking a shower or bath with these products, not personal hygeine overall.

I started reading a book that came out recently from Marc Musick called Volunteers: A social profile. As we prepare for recruitment, I'm trying to gain a more thorough understanding of the best way to recruit not only volunteers, but dedicated, energetic and concious student volunteers. Throughout the year we faciliate weekly trainings that are meant to update volunteers on community resources but also provide time on reflection on the service they have done and what implications it has.

NSP definteley has a dual mission and vision for their organization. In addition to increasing access to community resources for members of our community so they can move closer to their personal and life goals, our organization strives to increase college student's sense of responsibility, citizenship and community awareness. And by introducing college students to issues of poverty and societal inequalities, we hope to develop them into ethical leaders whose service will encourage them to enter a life long committment to ending poverty. Our mission is to put ourself out of business.

I'm currently working on developing not only training but recruitment programs that will get students on board with our movement and educate them about issues of poverty, inequality and thier effects on our community. It's a daunting and draining task. But it can also be energizing, because regardless of how deep and pervasive these issues are, I have an unyielding belief that our generations have the leaders that can bring change.

I just met with a client. Working with him, I feel like a cheerleader. He has very limited computer skills so I constantly find myself encouraging him to do some of the searches on his own and walking him through tasks like how to copy and paste and open his e-mail. It's easy for him to defer to me but I try not to reinforce the idea that I know more about things than he does. My cheerleading experience always comes in handy. I want my clients to leave feeling empowered. We may not be able to get them a job immediately or get them out of the poverty that has plagued thier lives, but hopefully they live with more confidence in their own abilities and knowledge about the resources available to them.

As a generation of future leaders we may not be able to effectively reform the system, completely extract the embedded forms of racism in our institutions or turn every life in our society around, but we can make a difference in one person's life. We can beleive that change is possible and start moving our society in that direction. We can reach out with the privelege we have been given and empower others to achieve their own goals. Yeah, I think we can.

Song: Stand by You by The Pretenders

Quote: ...people in disadvantaged communities don't need solutions imposed on them. What they require are merely the tools to make solutions work. Khadijah White.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

words of wisdom

Some inspiring things I've read lately:

The focus should not be so much on how to change other people to conform to our standards, our values. Rather we must learn how to accept and understand other people in their own right, acknowledging the validity of their values, their behavior.
Morris Massey

If you do what you love to do then you won't do it in an average way. From that point on work became a joy. I made choices based on what I believed in, and I had no regrets. At the end of the day you have to ask yourself of the many different lives that can be lived, which is the one that is going to inspire you.
Angela Bassett

I started drinking coffee again. Not good. I got a huge burst of energy yesterday morning, but this morning I'm just really restless with a slight headache. I'm not a fan of these four mile walks anymore, regardless of how may pretty places I've seen. I can't wait till I have enough money to buy a bike. Yesterday at my small group potluck I got some great suggestions on a great bike place on 50th and Baltimore that I'm going to check out this weekend.
So I'm reading some good books from the library. One is Volunteers: A social profile which has given me some great ideas on recruitment and management and also Generation me: why todays young Americans are more confident, assertive, entitled and more miserable than ever before.
I also picked up a book the national office is reading called Begging for Change about the state of non-profits in America.
More training tonight at LUSH, more free stuff. I'm excited. Alrighty then.

Song: Caravan by Van Morrison

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

sharing some good vibes

I read this this morning and I thought I would share it with you guys. I found it to be timely and relevant.

I always liked the Course's reliance upon forgiveness as a way to remeber the true Self. This is a somewhat unique approach, found in few of the other great wisdom traditions, which usually stress some form of awareness training or devotion. But the theory behind forgiveness is simple: The ego, the separate-self sense, is not just a congnitive construct, but also an affective one. That is, it is propped up not just by concepts but by the emotions. And the primal emotion of the ego, according to this teaching is fear followed by resentment. As the Upanishads put it, "Wherever there is other, there is fear."
In other words, whenever we split seamless awareness into a subject versus an object, into a self versus an other, then that self feels fear, simply because there are now so many "others" out there that can harm it. Out of this fear grows resentment. If we are going to insist on identifying with just the little self in here, then others are going to bruise it, insult it, injure it. The ego, then, is kept in existence by a collection of emotional insults; it carries its personal bruises as the fabric of its very existence. It actively collects hurts and insults, even while resenting them, because without its bruises, it would be, literally, nothing.
The ego's first maneuver in dealing with this resentment is to try to get others to confess their faults. "You hurt me; say you're sorry." Sometimes this makes the ego feel temporarily better, but does nothing to uproot the original cause. And, as often as not, even if the person does apologize, the likely result is now hatred of them. "I knew you did that to me; see you just admitted it!" The fundamental mood of the ego: never forgive, never forget.
What the ego doesn't try is forgiveness, because that would undermine its very existence. To forgive others for insults, real or imagined, is to weaken the boundary between self and other, to dissolve the sense of separation between subject and object. And thus, with forgiveness, awareness tends to let go of the ego and its insults, and revert instead to the Witness, the Self, which views both subject and object equally. And thus according to the Course, forgiveness is the way I let go of my self and remember my Self.
I found this practice extremely useful (...) My ego was so bruised, so injured -- I had collected so many insults (real and imagined) -- that forgiveness alone could begin to uncoil the pain of my own self-contraction. The more I got "hurt", the more contracted I got, which made the existence of "others" all the more painful, which made bruises all the more likely. And if I felt I couldn't forgive others for their "insensitivity" (in other words, the pain caused by my own self-contracting tendencies) then I used another affirmation from the Course: "God is the love with which I forgive."
- Ken Wilber from "Grace and Grit"

Monday, August 11, 2008

good news!

Our Philadelphia offices we're just given 10,000 from Wachovia!!!! Yeah!!!

Chilly in Philly!

When I left work on Friday afternoon, I was hit with a wave of crisp, cool air. That set the tone for the weekend. It seems like we had a slight cold front, although I'm sure I'm the only person in Philadelphia who would call a weekend of weather in the 70s a coldfront. This is sure to be a long winter.
It was really nice, in fact it was beautiful. On Saturday morning, I headed over to the Clark Park fleamarket. It's the hustling, bustling place to be with loads of vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables, antiques, clothes, books anything you can imagine. I don't have any money to spare so I resigned to just peering through the selection and noting any vendors to come back to next month. I then headed over to a West Philly staple, the Green Line Cafe.
I camped out in a table by the window where I could still catch glimpses of the market. I'm still reviewing the materials from training so I was getting through those. But the smells of all the bagles and cafe mochas started to make me quite hungry so I headed home for lunch and relaxed and read and cooked.
On Sunday, I did another day of training at LUSH from 8-1. We were going through bath products. Sopas, bath melts, bubble bar slices, bath bombs, shower jellies, shower gel and butter creams although I'm sure I'm leaving out something.
Learning all the products, their theraputic effects and main ingredients hasn't been as hard as I thought. It's actually pretty easy and enjoyable and the products are really good. I went home with a TON of samples...all of the shower gels, whoosh! shower jelly, our aluminum-free deodarant, a bar of honey I washed the kids bath soap, our solid perfume, Emperor of Ice Cream body butter, our body powders and a buffing bar. My apartment smells gorgeous and I'm really excited anytime I have to take a bath or shower.
I always get a rush of excitement on Sunday afternoons because I really look forward to coming into work on Monday. I really do love my job. This morning I was so honored to receive wonderfully encouraging e-mails from both my CEO and COO! I also started off the morning with my weekly meeting with Shawn where we went over what our goals for the week are and projects we were individually working on as well. I then did one of my favorite things, ordering from StaplesLink because I just love office supplies.
This week there will be a lot of focus on outreach efforts both for volunteers and to let community members know about our services. Our summer directors are sadly leaving us at the end of the week, so there is some transition stuff to be done as well as a farewell dinner. Yeah, food!
Afterwork I'm heading over to the library to drop off my books and get some new ones. I also need to renew this one book I almost neglected but has turned out to be pretty good. It's called On my own: The art of being a woman alone, and it's pretty encouraging. It inspired some really theraupitic journaling this past weekend and has made me more grateful for this time I've been able to enjoy with myself. Here is an excerpt:
Aloneness is an opportunity, a state brimming with potentiality, with resources for renewed life--not a life sentence. Its cultivation should not be an apology but an art. In the space of aloneness--and perhaps only there--a woman is free to admit and act on her own desires. It is where we have the opportunity to discover that we are 'not a half' but a sovereign whole. With that insight, we can then began to discard the remnant of 'thingness'--the spoiling belief that gives rise to our timidity, insecurity and fear--so that we can realize true autonomy, with or without a partner.
So, that is that. I'm hoping to enjoy some lunch and then finish the day off, enjoy!

Quote: Woman must come of age by herself. This is the essence of 'coming of age'--to learn how to stand alone. Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Quote (2): The capacity for getting along with our neighbor depends to a large extent on the capacity for getting along with ourselves. The self-respecting individual will try to be as tolerant of his neighbor's shortcomings as he is of his own. Eric Hoffer

Friday, August 8, 2008

tired energy

I have had so much restless energy today.

I think I'm sick of planning, I just wanted to get started already. But if we don't plan, we won't have a strong foundation for the year, but still.

Planning, planning, planning.

We will also be having a strategic planning session in September, which will be a two day planning event. Food is covered, so I am happy. This organization really spoils me, but a good spolining,that makes me work harder. But that reminds me, I've been trying to work in my impulsivity because basically whenever I want something, I just get it, but I feel like I could be saving more. Well I tried to resist the urge to go get a candy bar (becuase I have major sweet tooth). I also thought that by controlling my impulses I would be able to better control other impulses like emotional ones or my type a ego. Well it backfired. The next day I just ended uo getting two sweet things (a Strawberry frosted dunkin donut and a tasty cake honey bun, which I also plan to get after work.) So I'm just going to get what I want when I want it and practice more discretion rather than control. I really miss Publix Key Lime Pies, ohhh (drools) They're so good and wonderful and there are none up here. And people I ask don't even like them, wha...? I

But anywho, planning and preparing and thinking are all really draining avtivities for me, I can't wait till something we planned actually happens.

Tonight is the opening ceremonies for the Olympics, they're having a host of events in Chinatown which I really would like to go to. I just don't have any money and I really want to go home and eat dinner, eat something.

I'm currenlty reading a really inspiring book called Your America: Democracy's Local Heroes. It profiles different people who noticed an injustice in society and then through action, developed programs and services in response. It's really inspiring and details how much tenacity and enthusiasm it takes to get to the root of problems in our society and develop effective strategies against them.

This weekend will be a lot of reading and working and hopefully sleeping and refueling. I'm looking forward to getting paid next week as well, woot woot. I've been just making it paycheck to paycheck which is really stressful. I just constantly hope that unexpected costs don't come up in the days leading up to my next paycheck.

Good thing though is that we got a raise from a 10,800 stipend to a 12,000 stipend. That's huge! Although I don't think they're taking enough taxes out of my paycheck, so I need to talk to my boss about that. Even though the Olympics are really important to me, I think I'm just going to head home and get some rest. It is much needed. Plus I have to study for my LUSH training on Sunday. It makes me feel like I'm in school. Not awesome.

And that, and that, and that's all folks!

Song: Glad Tidings by Van Morrison

Quote: If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work. --Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, August 7, 2008

as the world turns

I actually had a pretty good day that unfortunately ended in some unsettling karma. I personally believe that the energy you put into the world is the same energy that comes back to you and I wonder in what areas of my thinking or approach to life I need to start thinking more "happy thoughts." Some days, weird things just happen and I have to admit they were in my control but anyways, focusing on the flowers in the gardens, rather than the weeds...

Today was a day of training. I had Benefit Bank training that was supposed to last from 9-5 but ended at three because of computer problems. Then I went to Philadalphia Gas Works (PGW) to try and see if I could get my deposit eliminated since I was low-income and then I started my first night at LUSH where I did three hours of training followed by three free products for "homework." Okay so I guess it wasn't that bad of a day.
So Benefit Bank Training:

BB is a program run through the Solutions for Progress Inc. It's an online system that "streamlines access to resources" mainly goverment assistance and programs. You know in the US, $35 billion in government benefits meant to reduce the affects of poverty on low-income families goes unclaimed. That includes tax refunds, food and nutrition programs, health care and prescription drug programs, energy assisstance programs and child care support programs. Reasons why people don't access these resources, despite their need, range from illiteracy, language barriers and limited knowledge of eligibiliy to stigma about being on anytype of assistance. The TBB is a program that takes all the clients information and then prescreens them for several programs throughout the state. It keeps track of all the requirements and needed paperwork. This is helpful because with all the programs and all the beauracracy sorrounding them it can be difficult to keep track of all the requirements. With TBB once I put in all the information, it picks all the programs that the person may qualify for. It's not a guarentee and people still have to put in some legwork but it provides more access to these programs.

Througout the training I got to learn about more social service programs in Philly, in addition to their problems. For example for some health care programs like Childern's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a person and their children are only eligible if they haven't had any healthcare in the past 90 days. So let's say a parent had insurance for their child but had the chance to get better coverage and benefits through CHIP. Well in order to qualify they would have to take their child of healthcare for 90 days. Imagine if you had a child with a chronic illness like asthma or something, 90 days is a really long time to leave your child uninsured. The purpose of the 90 days is to prevent people from switching often but it can have some setbacks. Nothing is perfect, but it's discouraging to know that some great programs are still so inaccessible and practicle because they don't meet the clients where they're at.

There were about 15 other people there from other organizations in Philly and they were so much fun. Made a lot of cool connections and really felt more invigorated about the work I do. I wish I had more opportunities to spend time with people involved in the community, I feel I could learn so much from them. The organizations that were repersented were Broad Street Ministry (mainly have programs geared towards the homeless population), Communities in Schools(something, I can't remember), Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Inc.( working with the Lation community and illegal immigrants through a variety of programs, these guys were so awesome), Lutheran Settlement House(programs and services, similar to us), Senior Law Center (work with the elderly on legal issues)and Pacific Rim Resource Center(work with Asian-American community members to gain access to resources).

We also go to do our training in the most awesome room that included some gorgeous art from the owners on art collection. The room also had these huge windows with a beautiful of the skyline. It gave me some awesome ideas for our office set-up.

Then I was off to PGW. I decided not to waive my deposit and here is why. I would've had to enroll in this low-income assistance program which would've charged me %10 of my income regardless of what I owed for each bill. It sounds like great idea because my bill would remain stable. But that means I would have to pay $100 every bill even if it's summer and I'm not using any. If it gets to the winter and I realize I need it I can get it in, but it's very unlikely that I will have a gas bill over $100 in the coming months. Plus, I get the deposit back in a year and it will have earned 6% interest each month. That's an awesome saving plan.

Off to LUSH to learn about selling strategies. It's so interesting to spend an entire morning learning how to get people food stamps and then spending all night learning how to sell people a $10 bottle of shampoo (awesome organic shampoo, that wasn't tested on animals though)! I got free things to try and I tried this butterfly bathbomb. You throw it in the bath and it fizzes away. This one had dried flowers in it and a cloth butterfly that remain in the bath. It seemed like a cute idea until I had to spend time after my bath picking the flowers out of my bathtub.

The only sour karma things that really happened are that it looks like I won't be going to New York after all with Ainsley and his staff because I have to work and my power cord doesn't seem to be working anymore and I only have an hour left on my computer. Now 56 mins. I'm gonna go, but I'll hit you up later players!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

and one more thing...

So in reference to the post I just posted, I've been worried that my sometimes Type A personality my build some tension between me and my co. I've been so worried I asked my small group to pray for me. After we all belted out a hearty laugh, some people shot up a few prayers. I'm not usually Type A, but when I really get into a task, it sometimes emerges. So I took a test and this was the result:

You seem to be in the middle between the Type A and Type B personality. In this case, the middle ground is good. Your attitude to life is more of the "smell the roses" kind and you know how and when to relax. Nonetheless, you realize that picking up a challenge and competing a little bit for your place in the sun can add some spice to your life. The equilibrium is important, so don't let your hostile, aggressive, and competitive alter ego take over too often. Generally, you are easy to be around, and people tend to feel relaxed and comfortable in your presence. Yours is a very healthy attitude towards life.

So I'm going to work more on calming my agressive competitve side, I think it fills me with too much negative energy and I want to have as much of a harmonious relationship as possible with my co. Any tips would be much appreciated.

Quote: If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go with others. -African Proverb

tick tock

There never seems to be enough hours in the day...
Today was pretty exciting. We met with Mike Szekely who is the Director of the center for internships and career development at Temple. He has been a strong supporter and collaborater with our NSP office. The meeting was really informative. He connects students in the Liberal Arts and Sciences program with internships, career exploration and community based learning opportunities in the community. He had a lot of great connections and advice. He is working with us to set up an info session and connect us with other people on the Temple Campus.
One of the popular programs on Temple's campus is the Leadership Challenge, which is overseen by the Dean of Students office. Oh and guess what..
So a friend of my families who I've mentioned in previous posts, Ainsley, is the Dean of Students at Temple. He just invited me to go to New York with him, his wife and his staff. I'm so excited!!! He said they were a fun group of people so it should be a great trip. A weekend with a DSO staff, well some things just never change...
Shawn and I spent a lot of time trying to hash out a concrete volunteer recruitment plan. I like to have really strong details and plan, I hope I'm not stressing Shawn out with this. We're also in the works to plan an overnight retreat for the Pennsylvania region which includes our office, West Philly and Pittsburgh.
It's a little to hard to get a specific date because we still don't know when our weekend of strategic planning is taking place and when we will specifically be having our overnight retreat but we've got some things designed.
In exciting news, one of our Summer directors Eric brought in a gallon of water ice! Water ice or wudder ice, as it is pronounced by native Philadelphians, is a Philadelphia favorite. It was sooooo good!!
I will be out of the office yet again tomorrow because I have benefit bank training. Benefit Bank training will teach me how to sign up people for benefits like food stamps or other assistance and how to file taxes and get people their stimulus payments. Yeah! It's nine to five, ehhh.
I then have my first night of training at Lush!
I'm already excited about getting back into the office on Friday because I have so much work to do, it's a real struggle to not bring things home but I have so much to learn.
I'm currently shacked up in my neighborhood Green Line, a chain of coffee shops in West Philadelphia. I had a great dinner and I'm looking forward to getting a good's night rest.
Until tomorrow, ciao!!

Song: The heart of the matter by Don Henley

Quote: When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work -- this is a gift of God.
Ecclesiastes 5:19

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back in Black- pt. 2

Jazz in the sculpture garden.

Barbecue on the first night

Our CEO and Director of Programs. Yeah I take really awkwar pictures. You can go on the website to see thier faces.

Celebrating Bens birthday at Alero's

Chinese food and games in the office! more sculpture garden!

Song: We're all Mad by Natasha Bedingfield


Back in Black

Bloggy woggy I'm back!!

Hello friends and family. I have just returned from an exciting, invigorating, inspiring, motivating and wonderful training. I am in love with an organization known as NSP. And I love all of the people who work there.
I feel really grateful to be a part of this organization. Every person that I work with is phenomenal and I'm really excited to work with them and learn from them throughout the year.
I know I must sound like a fluffy tree fairy but seriously, it was great. I'll give you a rundown of the training.

Day One:
This was a full day of introductions to the organization, the national office staff and AmeriCorp in general. We have a wonderful and supportive staff in the National Office. Here's a snipit from the letter our CEO inclosed in our traning packets:
This week, we will walk you through all core elements of NSP's local and national operations, as well as through your work plan for the year ahead. We hope that you will return to your NSP Local Office feeling prepared and excited for your term. Of equal importance, we hope that you will leave with the confidence that you have a strong network of colleagues across the country as well as National Office team that will guide and support you throughout each of the journey ahead...I am honored that each of you has chosen to join us in accomplishing this important work, and I can't wait to learn from you and watch you grow. We look forward to an incredible year ahead.
We ended the day with a really fun barbecue at our COO Amy's house. Everyone in Florida should be happy to learn that I taught a whole new group of people the ways of the awkward turtle, creepy spider and shady palm tree. I also learned some new ones which I will most def. pass on.

Day two.
Diversity Training/cultural competence
I get really excited about diversity training every since I experienced Gatorship at UF. It was really cool to have an environemnt to discuss diversity issues and their significance to our work. We also did true colors which you can learn more about here http://www.truecolorstest.com/True_Colors_Test.shtml. Afterwards we got to hear from a client speaker. He was really inspiring and gave me a real perspective shift on how to work with clients.
This was the first of many nights of mafia as well. duh duh duh.

Day three
Client Service Training
oh wee! This was a pretty intense day. We got to share some best practices for getting resources for clients. We also did some hands on training, where members of the staff potrayed different clients with different needs and we learned to work with them. We also learned some basics to social work as well as the fundamentals of NSP's approach to working with clients. We were given the client service manual which is NSP's comprehensive guide to working with clients and tackling issues.
Afterwards we went to dinner at this place called Alero's. It was pretty fun!

Day Four
Volunteer recruitment, training and management
This was the day I was the most excited about and it def. lived up to my expectations. I'm realy stoked about leadership development with our volunteers, its what initially drew me to this job. We have a volunteer training manual which will prove really helpful throughout the year.

Day Five:
Development and Communications
affectionately known as Dev/Comm. It speaks for itself. Up to 10% of my work plan for the year will include fundraising so it was helpful to have an overview. NSP is very transparent so we were shown the goals for the year, the budget, what expenses, everything. It was pretty amazing. Our local office will have an operating budget of $6000 , so that was that.
It was a half day so I went out with some folks and did some museum visits and went around DC. We then enjoyed some jazz in the sculputre garden. And then the wonderful staff got us chinese food and we talked, laughed and played games in the national office.

Day six:
Evaluations and Operations
I love assessments! Who doesn't know that. We talked about impact measurement and how to interpret data from our offices and use it to design better services our train our volunteers. We use a couple of online information sharing tools to share best practives and provide seamless record keeping and we learned about that. We learned about more finance and operations stuff. I think I was pretty tired on this day. But then we enjoyed a wonderful picnic on the roof of the building followed by some fun picture taking and more games of mafia

Day seven.
work plan and communication
basically going over the site coordinator work plan and learning about communication and all that jazz. I have a very intenese Type A work mode that I have to learn to control better. I'm learning you can't work in a...I can't remeber but basically to share and grow and learn from those around me. But what can I say, the Gunn likes to get things done. We also spent some time learning about self care.

So it was a great week! I'll include pictures later. I've had the past two days off which I have used to rest and enjoy my life and sleeping.
I got pretty frustrated with PGW and their incosistent customers service so I walked down to the office myself. That was a great idea because after talking to the woman I learned I could waive my $380 deposit because I had a low-income, cha-ching!
It was pretty evident that I also needed a new job since $200 of every paycheck goes to pay off debt, so I am now an employee at Lush.http://usa.lush.com/cgi-bin/lushdb/about.html?expand=about. It was a stressful decision to make because I'm so invigorated about my job and I don't want anything to distract me but I've become fond of eating and being able to provide for myself without going crazy over finances so it was a needed decision.
I also signed up for some studies at Penn in the neuropyschiatry department. One of the questions they asked me during screening was, "do you have any unusual hair designs because some times we need to put nuerotransmitter (or something) helmets on your head." I'll keep you updated on those.

I can't wait to get back to work. Ciao! for now.

Song: Dream Big by Ryan Shuppe and the Rubberband

Quote: "...and when you dream, dream big."