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Thursday, October 30, 2008

When the lights went out in Philly

So last night was unbelievably exciting. My friend Josh called me to let me know that the Phillies were two outs from winning the world series and I immediately ran from the warm homely space of the 34th street Starbucks into the crisp night air of Philadelphia. I was met by a chorus of one then two, then four then uncountable yells nd cheers spilling from the buildings around me. Cars and Taxis raced by honking their horns fiercely and waving rad ball caps with the now well known white stiched P. The Phillies had won the world series.
Momentum has been building in this city long before the world turned its eyes to the birthplace of our nation. I remember leaving work one night, going to the subway and seeing every cart filled with Phillies fans, red caps. It was then that I realized how historical and inspirational this moment was. I have never felt so grateful to be apart of something.
Since I've come to this city, I have been faced with the worn desolate and downtrodden of the city. I have come to love this city even more though even after being faced with the maze of social services that plague every large city. There is something about Philadelphia that tugs at your heart and woes you into a courtship. It has it's dark side but it has its triumph and it doesn't claim to be anything more than a city that won't give up and won't be put down. And you believe in it against all odds.
Last night was needed and much deserved. While I don't claim to be a fan, I haven't steadily endured the years of heartbreaking defeat like many of the fans here, I am very much in love with this city and excited about the win that has pulled this city into a new hope.
Almost symbolically today was the first day this week where the sun shone brightly and the morning air was at peace. Everyone in this city loves this team and it is exciting to see the unity that is emerging after the win.
Last night was amazing and it was hard to resist staying out in the night air embracing the cheers and high fives and seeing the pure excitement on the cold faces passing by.
Now the city awaits the Friday parade. Everyone needs this once in a while, a feeling of triumph joy and victory. I love Philadelphia!
Quote: "We're losers no more. The organziation, we're winners. Nobody can take that away from the city of Philadelphia, and nobody can take that away from us." First Baseman Ryan Howard

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Here I am

I have found it necessary to attempt to be fully present.
Not just in my situations but here in Philly and this experience. I'm not really sure what that means but it occured to me today that here I am and here is where I will be.
Our volunteer is working on this wonderful project in her downtime, it's so gorgeous
The view from the large window in one of the rooms in our office

Hi, I have to wear thirty shirts to go outside

Why I love coming to work early in the moring, the gorgeous sun behind large tree.

I have a ton of restless energy. It's one of those days where there are things to be done but so many of them it is unclear of where to start. Oh I just thought of something I can do. Oh and I just got a call from my boss reminding me to turn in my timesheets, I think I haven't turned them in since September so there's something...

In the meantime here are some pictures from my office this morning:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


So this morning I was met with one of the coldest, dreariest days I have ever encountered. And tonight they're expecting snow showers. SNOW SHOWERS!

Morning got started off with a bang because we had a really good meeting with one of the organizations in our building about how we could collaborate. They're a couple of volunteers training right now and its pretty calm in the office. I have to go to work tonight which I am not very excited about. I'm not really interested in anything that doesn't include the words soup or hot chocolate.

Our client numbers are steadily increasing. I was working with a client yesterday who was looking for housekeeping jobs. The issue, people aren't spending extravagant amounts of money, which means they probably aren't going to hotels which means a lot of people in this city are being put out of work with very few if any skills that can be easily transferred to other types of work. I had a really interesting discussion with my friend Priya last night about what is best for the economy, that being whether people should spend money or whether they should not. I am seeing the effects of people not spending like they used to, entry level job cuts and less openings for temporary jobs as well. The low income seem to be the least involved but the most affected by these unstable shifts in the economy. So I don't think people should stop spending completely, but our extravagance in times when people in our country can barely meet their needs seems out of place as well.

This week I have been in an inner debate about the role of our nonprofit sector in the overall health of our country and communities. Especially in times like these when the real solution seems to be a complete restructuring of the way we do things rather than just bandaging up the system we do have and the people who get pulled through it. But there are people that need help now who could care less about politics or big picture things. Or should I say don't have the privilege of thinking that way.

Okay back to work, I actually have things I need to get done and if I stay focused this actually might be a productive day.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Our volunteers preparing for 'client survivor' I had to be the mean shelter lady

In DC at our meeting, talking about how wonderful NSP is

Volunteers at our New Volunteer training on Sunday learning about making a budget on a low-income

Dysfunctional Hierarchy

Our Director of Program Tony telling us about program development and assessments, oh my!

Cannon and Fops!

Enjoying our awesomeness at the meeting


The girls after dinner

Kanlaya (sp?) yummy Thai place

Breakfast! We got to spend three days in these wonderful law firm with wonderful food, all donated

Waiting outside union station for the rest of the group

Ben's "Birthday"

...from DC and of our volunteers!

birds without wings

If there was any week to treat mess ups/failures like learning opportunities, this is the week.
I feel like the ends of my life slowly unraveled. Although when I look at the times similar to this, patterns in my behavior emerge:
1. Avoidance of responsibility
2. Lack of accountability
3. Not planning ahead
4. Lack of follow through.

So yeah, it would be tedious and almost masochistic to go through the details of the week but the end results were having to pay $300 to use our office space for our all day training yesterday, getting written up at Lush for not having anyone to cover my shift, not taking my comp day when I was supposed to take my comp day and well let's just end it at that.

These weeks are always the most fun, but yes learning experiences. Opportunities to confront the pitfalls in my temperament and work towards working through them or providing safety nets for myself. I just would like a nice vacation away from everything so I can get my head screwed back on. But alas...

So DC was AWESOME !! It was a really great trip and really gave me the energy to hit the road. Ofcourse being out of town for three days didn't help my disorganization at all but I really enjoyed being away. I love my organization and the people I work with, it can't be said enough. There was some challenging talk about the economy and how it will affect our organization and the world of philanthropy over all. It was one of those long, everyone is quiet in the room conversations that involves some deep emotion.
Life is a challenge, you gotta hit the road running..

Our office had the all day training yesterday. It went well although our vols starting getting really tired towards the end of the day. It was def. a challenge to keep the energy up but the conversations were really great.

Our office is actually getting into a rythym which means I have a more structured work week. I'm still having a scatterbrained day, I forgot my cellphone and my landlords key to the building but what can you do.

Song: philosophers stone by Van Morrison

Saturday, October 18, 2008

go the distance

I took the day off at Lush. It was much needed and I'm excited about the long day of possibilities.
That's what it feels like, I work all the time now and all of time is scheduled and I spend 12 hours a day looking for what other people need. This morning I was taken back by the feeling of possibility and openness in my day.
I'm called back to the days of my earlier posts where I tried to decipher why it is that I serve. I was reading this in the call of service and it brought me to the thought:

The longer she looked into the matter,however -- the closer she looked at her own life -- the more she realized that her burnout had its own distinctive history and character...The call of service is a call to a new chapter of life -- its earlier story, its prior chapters, with their achievements and losses, will surely come to bear on what happens in the future, though each person's idealism can have its own surprising victories, some of them achieved against the great odds of a particular past. "My whole life before I started the service work was a long stretch of burnout," a student told me, offering a much-needed ironic perspective on the subject. When we single out the low spells of volunteers, we forget that for others...life itself may be a sadder story than the passing low points that are called burnout. Youthful activists are often able to use such low points to become more realistic and reflective and, in the long run, sturdier in the community service work they usually continued doing.

You know when people run races how theirs that gun shot that goes off. I think in all of our lives we have a gun shot moment. Something that starts us off running and it may take a while into the race before we realize why we're running or what exactly we're running to. I think in a much deeper way my service has begin to tap into a lingering question of need that lies deep within the character of my life. Spending days working so hard to get people what they need makes you start to realize that needs are a part of the human experience, and they are very much apart of yours. What if you search and you search and it can't be found, where do you go...

Friday, October 17, 2008

like a polaroid picture

I took the day off and I am much the better for it.
I'm enjoying the great scene of the foliage in my wonderful neighborhood and of course cruising online.
Everyone should take sometime to yourself, its important.
I'm uber uber uber excited about being in DC on Monday and can't wait. I'll be away from the blog from a while but will be back shortly, with pictures!
Love you all, have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

running as fast as I can..

I had a great morning at the Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger's Food Stamp Forum. It included National and Local leaders, inlcuding or own awesome Mayor, discussing the revamp and what we as nonprofit leaders can do to ensure that people hear about them. The Food Stamps program has been recreated into the SNAP program and Pennsylvania has developed some more accesible Pennsylvania requirements that will allow so much more people to sign up and get his much needed benefit.
I have been exhausted lately which always makes me emotional and I caught myself getting all teared up. It was all good news but just hearing some of the family stories was hard.
As glad as I am to hear about all of these current changes, I think that we as a country are getting really good at treatment but not prevention. I think there is more we can all be doing to ensure that people have fair wages...I shouldn't get into all of this now, I'm too tired.
I'm taking a hopefully relaxing day off work tomorrow. It was hard, considering there is so much to do in the office before we leave to DC and I don't want to leave too much on Shawn's plate but I sat with him and talked with him and it's best for the long run.
I had a tough emotional night and I just feel like I'm on the verge of burnout.
Work hard, play hard. Good night.

Song: Give a Little Love by Rilo Kiley
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RbkyCmeMas (kept me going this week)

Song 2: Shine by Anna Nalick
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgiZz-aqheU (this one too)

Quote: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. Plato.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I am very tired, and I haven't had much energy all week. I'm trying to scout a day this week that I can either work from home or just take a day off. I'm low on pretty much everything and we're only going to get busier.
Working with our volunteers has been pretty energizing though. And I've been reading through some of my first blog entry's when I started to rekindle the energy I had when I first began. I'm so glad that I started this blog and that so many other people have also been able to benefit from it.
One of our volunteers is so pumped and I'm happy to be apart of this experience with her. It reminds me of my excited about everything days, which I guess I'm pretty much still in. There are so many opportunities for students to do something in the world. I just got information about a conference that I got to participate in last year and was able to pass it on to all of our offices. Hopefully we'll have a big NSPresence at CGIU this year. Our students get to work on poverty alleviation and understanding on the broader issues every day. I've learned so much from them already.

Okay toodles. Gotta rekindle the energy before a long night at Lush.

Song: Silver lining by Rilo Kiley

Monday, October 13, 2008

Loving days off!

So I have the day off at both work and Lush for Columbus Day!
I was so excited this morning. First for the chance to sleep in because I had a really busy weekend and second for the opportunity to spend the day in reflection and do things that I want to do. I'm debating wether I should do this like every two weeks. Just take a day off, it has been so much fun.

I have spent the day sprawled out on one of the lawns of Penn's campus. It's gorgeous, the leaves are starting to change and it's a nice warm sunny day. Reading books is def. one of my favorite pasttimes. I also found that I can access computers and the library on Penn's campus with my ID, cha-ching. They have rocking chairs in here which are by far my most favorite things in the world.

I'm currently reading this book by Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek called Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary people creating extraordinary lives. It is a really good book and I recommend that everyone I know go to your local library or bookstore and pick up a copy. I'll give you an excerpt:

This book is about how to lead an entrepreneurial life -- discovering what we call our core identity, envisioning the good life, and taking action to pursue it with all the grit and vigor we can muster. It illustrates life entrepreneurship through an actionable framework and stories of fifty-five extraordinary people who have blazed these trailes. We wrote this book to help people lead meaningful and significant lives. It is for a wide ranging audience, including emerging leaders and budding entrepreneurs; those interested in entrepreneurial leadership, personal development and community building; and those contemplating or experiencing a life or career change, facing a challenge or crisis, or starting to think about their legacy. (pg xix)

I know the book may not resonate with everyone the way it is resonating with me right now, but has a ton of helpful tools and guides which at the very least may be something you can past on to someone under your guidance.

I'm looking forward to next week. We're going to DC for our early service training. I love meeting up with the other wonderful people in my organization. I always learn so much and feel so invigorated. It will also be nice to get away from the office and do some me things.

I also was the recepient of a wonderful sermon on Sunday. God always has a way of reminding us of what is important. Our pastor reminded us that we musn't spend so much time focused on internal conflict but rather on our purpose in the community. How true in a time when you usually need to get things done with people who are just hard to get things done with...

Ta-Ta loves! Keep living the good life!

Quote: Everything that happens to you is your teacher. The secret is to sit at the feet of your own life and be taught by it. Polly B. Berends

Quote(2) When you come to the end of all the light you know and you are about to step into the darkness, faith is knowing one of two things will happen. Either you find solid ground underneath you or God will send you people who will teach you how to fly. Edward Teller quote paraphrased by Cory Booker.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What a wonderful week!

I had a great week.
Best part, this Wednesday. Our Director of Programs and our program manager were in town and Josh and Paul came in and we interviewed new program managers. It was a very rewarding experience to be apart of. I realized I really love developing teams and programs in general. Discussing all of the variables and strategizing about what will work and what won't. As well as looking at needs of our organization and seeing what things fit together to get us there. It was a great day. We had two interviews and it took all day and it was great!
It was great that our National Office staff let us be involved in that interview and gave us insights into the big picture elements that will influence their decision.
It's been a long difficult road trying to find the right fit for the position. I have strong feelings about one candidate but I feel like each of them would bring different strengths that could help our organization.

Our volunteers are starting in the office and I couldn't be more excited. They are wonderful and I feel like I'm going to learn so much this year just from working with them. I feel so afraid at the same time. Like a parent afraid of failing my kids. I have this subtle uneasiness that I'm not doing enough for them, not working hard enough. But I balance that out and realize this is a learning experience for me as well.

I really enjoy working in teams and the added team element to having the volutneers is exciting to me. Shawn and I def. need someone to buffer our interactions and add a different perspective. It will be refreshing to have them.

Okay It's been a long week and I am really hungry. So pieces and reeses until next time.

I believe that we should remove the last barriers which stand between millions of our people and their birthright. There can be no justifiable reason for discrimination because of ancestry, or religion, or race or color.
I believe that to inspire the people of the world whose freedom is in jeopardy and to restore hope to those who have already lost their civil liberties, we must correct the remaining imperfections in our own democracy.
We know the way. We only need the will.
President Truman

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

the olympic feat

This morning I was finally able to succesfully dress for the cold weather. It was in the 40s this morning and I had no idea what I was going to successfully dress for work and dress warmly. But alas, after much layering and fangelling I was able to compile a warm setup and I wasn't the least bit cold unlike the past few days where the chill hit my bones. However trivial it may seem it made me really excited this morning and I was very excited about not shivering all the way to work.

I read this really inpsiring story this morning about two young men from a village near Kenya who built a health clinic for the people there. I thought I'd share it. The were inspired after participating in a service immersion trip which warms my heart. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25573377/. I am so low energy. I need to get excited about something.

Quote: I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible, loving, human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of pride. William James

Monday, October 6, 2008

streets of philadelphia

G'day all!

I had a wonderfully busy weekend at Lush. I worked both Saturday and Sunday which means that fortunately I don't have to work any nights this week except for Thursday.
It was very tiring. We had a birthday party in the store on Sunday for this 12 year old and her friends. At the same time we were having a garden party which was equally tiring but also very fun. As I was ringing up one of the customers, she said to me "this must be a really fun place to work." It can be very tiring though and sometimes I forget I'm selling and get really attached to our customers. And then they leave, never to be seen again...

On Sunday Mr. Jackson came over and we had dinner. Which I burned a little but I still hope it was a nice introduction to Philadelphia and NSP. We had a great long conversation.

I was really pumped afterwards and I needed to burn off that energy so that I could get some much needed rest for the week. So I took a nice long bubble bath, listened to some calming music and tried to think of absolutely nothing at all. It worked fairly well. I've been reading a lot of work related books or books that somehow tie into my proffesional development at work but I realize that I need to start reading more leisurely books. I have a whole list of things but when I get to the library I see all of these other books and just can't help myself.
I'm currently reading type talk at work, or something like that. It's about the use of MBTI personality assessment in understanding your worksytle and those of the people you work with. It's really interesting and givenme more insight into myself as well as my Philly team members. It was also interesting because the book talks about stress and how your personality can change, this is what it said about my ENFPness "a normally gregarious, effervescent, imaginative, somewhat absentminded and spontaneous ENFP can turn into a pensive, noncommunicative, detail oriented, rigid individual-- in other words, the worst version of an ISTJ."
I wish I had known that like 12 months ago, it would've made other things make a lot more sense.

Shawn and I had our weekly meeting this morning which was preceeded by me spilling hot chocolate all over myself. Nevertheless it was good. We had our steady flow of volunteers in the office, minus a few no shows.

Now we're in that really boring low energy part of the day that literally sucks the life out of me. Our office is so miserably quiet and empty. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't like this for such huge parts of the day. but ehhh...
I am really tired and want to take the subway home but I haven't walked home in a while and would appreciate the fresh air and opportunity to do some excercise.

I'm happy that it is October. It's my favorite month of the year. Also we get to go to DC in a couple of weeks to meet with our National Office staff and other site coordinators. I can't wait to see everyone! I love the organization I work for and the anticipation makes me antsy!

Quote: Something that has always puzzled me all my life is why, when I am in special need of help, the good deed is usually done by somebody on whom I have no claim. William Feather

Song: Standing outside the fire by Garth Brooks

Friday, October 3, 2008

Good Morning!

I really didn't want to wake up this morning. It was one of those, can't I just sleep a little longer mornings.

Last night when I got home I was antsy and I wanted to go out to eat just to get out of the house. I stopped over by the Ethiopian place that I share a wall with and had a delcious and very filling meal.

Then I came home and crashed.

I stopped at McDees before coming into the office. It's a pretty sketchy McDees full of North Philly character. I really treasure it. The service is always completely horrible and the food is questionable but it has really carved a place in myheart.

As I was walking toward my building there was a huge crowd of young adults in front of thebuilding. This isn't unusual considering there are a lot of programs focused at youth in our building. What was unusual was that there must of been around 70 young girls all with children and some young men as well. My heart warmed for them. It reminds of me of the alternative break trip I did in my first year at UF. It was focused on juvenille justice. I got so attached to those girls and they've stayed with me ever since.The office is quiet. eww.
Yesterday it go so quiet and dull in here. Our office really needs an injection of life and energy. I have a ton of volunteers coming in today and I'm excited, hopefully we can get them pumped up.

I listened to the recap of the debate on the radio this morning. I'm sure this will disgust some people but I don't have any favorites in this election and I'm not really passionate about any of this candidates. It's my Pness keeping the options open till I receive more information.

Okay folks enjoy the day!

Quote: Life is not a dress rehearsal. Everyday, you should have at least one exquisite moment. Sally Karioth

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Doing it big

Guess What??
I got employee of the the month for September at Lush!
It was a great night. We had our monthly meeting last night which was so much fun. Lots of food and Alyssa and Lauren (our managers) showed us their pictures from their managers meeting in Vacnouver. We were also joined by a bunch of the managers in training. They shared with us all of the reasons why they love Lush and it made me love it that much more. I've been trying to come up with ways to motivate myself be more present with our customers and drive more sales. I hate the idea of selling but really our products are amazing and also great for the environment. I look at my work as making relationships with people, educating them about earth friendly products that are great to them and encouraging people to replace their products at home with our wonderful products.
We also got to see all of the products that we're coming out with for Christmas and I got to take three of them home. It was so much fun and we had some really amazing hummus. mmmmm.

It's been a nonstop day at work and it's only getting busier. I've been doing trainings. I finally finished developing our training. I got really energized today because I created a whole new aspect to training that challenges the volunteers to really think about the impact that they're going to make and what contributions they want to give to NSP while they are volunteering with us. I even added these little inspiring quotes. I notice I really get drained going over the details of client service with new volunteers, but they are important and I can't assume that our volunteers know everything they need to.
I'm definitely looking forward to the opportunities where we can have all of our volunteers together, reflecting and thinking of really creative ideas for our office.

We've even gotten a few more applications in. Unfortunately one of the volunteers that had come to an information session, didn't feel that comfortable in the nieghborhood around our office. I don't tend to think about those things too much anymore, although I can definetely identify, but I can see it from her perspective and hopefully we can give her some confidence into coming from campus to our office.

It has been really chilly today. Even Philadelphians think it's cold and our volunteers are also talking about the coldness. Not fun.

Josh Jack is coming in this weekend and I can't wait to have another Gator around! I'll also be looking forward to this weekend and lounging around, ahh bliss.

Quote:People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society. Vince Lombardi

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

you can go your own way

Jacqui I received your package yesterday! Thank you soooo much, I really appreciate it!

It has been a hectic week. I've been coming in to work earlier and leaving later. I was even late to Lush yesterday. There has just been so much to do and not enough time to do it. As much as I don't want to work at home, I seem to get these bursts of energy when I start thinking about something and then start scribbling stuff out and then end up working. I'm doing enough well rounded things so hopefully I can avoid burnout.

Today our CEO came in today, it was really awesome. I love seeing her. She also got my wheels turning on some things I hadn't thought about. She asked a lot of questions which were really helpful.

Yesterday we had an information session with really good turnout. About 17 students in all. It was really energizing because I just wasn't sure how to penetrate the Temple campus. It was great to see so many excited people. Our CEO talked with us about some of the challenges they've faced with getting plugged into the campus here. I think we're beginning to make strides. I'm booked with volunteer trainings which are compeltly hectic. I've had to adapt the normal model because it just didn't work with the stage our office is in right now. So I redesigned the training into something that future site leaders can hopefully use.

As we began trainings I'm realizing the impending shift in my role as manager of the volunteers. I'm trying to think of trainings and opportunities to develop the learning component of the service the volunteers are doing as well as really create a well rounded service experience for the volunteers. There is a lot of information out there in the world of service learning and civic engagement so I'm at a lost of where to start. Working with our volunteers and developing their competencies is definetely my favorite part of the job. I have a heart for my clients but I feel I can help them more by ensuring that our volunteers are well trained and educated on working with them. As well as increasing the information and knowledge our office and volunteers have so that we can really ensure that our clients are receiving the best service possible. I sometimes enjoy direct client service but I definetely get more energized when I'm working on things that increase the quality of service we're able to give.

I'm excited that we'll have a new Regional Program Manger soon. Then there will be someone here that can really help us improve our client serivice, our roots in the community and have a great developmental approach with Shawn and I. It will be nice to have someone I can look in the face and ask questions to.

Priya was here this weekend which was so wonderful. I was sorta drained when she left, we did so much in the city. I went to a lot of places I never would've by myself like some great restaurants and museums. I love having someone near to share this great city with. I can't wait to visit her in Baltimore!

I'm looking forward to having our volunteers all scheduled and settled into the office as well as heaving a good stream of clients. It'll be a nice flow. But I feel like we're really building a good foundation for our organization. I really enjoy this organization because I feel I'm really given a lot of room to express how I feel and the ideas I put out there are taken into consideration. Plus there's a lot of auntomy so I'm given room to do what I feel is best. It's like a match made in heaven.

Okay, I'll probably be spending a late night in the office, g'night!

Quote: Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things -- a chance word, a tap on the shoulder, or a penny dropped on a newsstand -- I am tempted to think...there are no little things. Bruce Barton

Song: Umbrella by Maria Digby