Bringing the Non-Profit World to the MainStage – 1st WOW blog post at AVODAH

After changing my clothing the requisite ten times, trying to figure out whether I was supposed to be going uptown or downtown, and waiting in a clothing store because I realized I was forty five minutes early, my summer internship at AVODAH began.

 

 

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Most of my life I anticipated that I would be working in theater when I grew up, so it was surprising walking into a building that was not lit with spotlights, or barren in preparation for a dance rehearsal. It took me awhile to come to this place, where I realized that maybe my interests are not completely in a world hidden and protected from the outside world. Theater was always comforting for me in its acceptance of all types of people into this haven, but was it really what I wanted a profession in? The truth of it was that as much as I feel at home in the theater; I craved a challenge, and being in situations where I had to advocate my opinions not just be appreciated for them. Theater is certainly difficult within its own merit, but after almost 10 years of performing I knew I needed a change. This was part of the reason I chose to pursue technical theater in college to get a different exposure to the theater setting I know and love, but I soon realized that I needed to start including my other main interest: creating a safer and friendlier environment for everyone. As scary as it was walking into the AVODAH office building, I knew that this would be an opportunity for my passion for social justice to be tested, which made it all the more appealing.

 

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I am no stranger to the community service and non-profit world, but from the context of a volunteer. Whether it be a soup kitchen, library, tutoring service I have worked for them all, but I never thought twice about it. I would come in, do my work, and then leave without thinking about my contributions, and also how much had to be completed behind the scenes for this program to exist. Walking into AVODAH, and being assigned to post job listings for other non-profits on their website right away was sort of a wake up call. AVODAH is an organization that is located in New York, Washington D.C., New Orleans, and Chicago that sends adults in their mid twenties to work in various non-profit organizations all across the world for a year. AVODAH helps support these adults through providing housing and a small stipend, so that they can achieve this beneficial work, while still supporting themselves. http://www.avodah.net They do a lot of fundraising, so that they can continue to provide this service consistently.

After every new assignment, I was shocked at how many emails have to be sent, how many phone calls need to be made, etc. to sponsor just one fundraising event. In two weeks, AVODAH will be holding three separate events for their Partners in Justice fundraiser. Which will help raise over $30,000 dollars from alumni of the organization, part of my job is making sure all of the logistical aspects behind receiving and soliciting these donations is completed correctly. This summer I will be working a lot with alumni of the AVODAH program to ensure their website is maintained, job listings are frequently posted, and that everyone is connected to the right list servs and people. It seems like mostly organization, which it is, but without so alumni would not know who to contact about prospective donations, where their next job would be, and making sure that the incoming members of AVODAH have sufficient funds, mentorship, and knowledge to complete their project to the fullest. My goal for this summer is to continue expanding my knowledge of the non-profit world, but from this background logistical model, and I have no doubt that I will achieve this. I spent almost all of my life performing and being in the spotlight, but college and hopefully this opportunity will let me discover what the backstage is like.

– Jessica Star

In with a bang: My first week at Alliance for Justice

I began my internship at Alliance for Justice in Washington, D.C. this Monday. The office is located in the beautiful Dupont Circle. For those who are unfamiliar with DC, Dupont Circle is in the Northwest quadrant of D.C. It’s a location with a number of businesses, tourists, offices and not to mention culture and architecture. Here are some pictures of Dupont Circle, just so you can see my view every day:

Dupont Circle 1

Dupont Circle 2

My office shares a building with a number of other organizations, such as the National Women’s Law Center, the Public Leadership Education Network and the Equal Rights Center, to name a few. We share a floor and office space with organizations such as the Center for Popular Democracy. This is our office:

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My second day on the job, we hosted a talk with John Paul Stevens–yes, that is the retired Supreme Court Justice. Journalists Dahlia Lithwick and Jonathan Capehart kept the conversation going with questions for Justice Stevens. Although I spent a majority of the time working the event–setting up, greeting guests and passing out programs–I did get to watch a bulk of the event. It was an incredible opportunity to hear him speak about his experience as a Supreme Court justice.

My third day on the job I attended a gala an the Newseum. The gala was held by the Center for Popular Democracy, an organization that shares space with Alliance for Justice in its Dupont Circle location in D.C. Congressman Keith Ellison, President of the National Education Association Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Program Officer of the Panta Rhea Foundation Janet Shenk and Nobel Laureate Economist Joseph Stiglitz were among the honorees. The gala was definitely a new experience for me. It was an opportunity to network that I had not really been exposed to before. 

As someone interested in education, disabilities and civil rights law, it was really amazing to hear these individuals speak so passionately about a vision for a better America. They spoke about voting rights, fair wages, ensuring everyone gets an education. I also had the opportunity to meet Lily Eskelsen Garcia.

Not to mention, the view from the Newseum balcony was amazing:

Newseum View

 

In the office, we have been working to plan a summer intern luncheon, to which we invite all of the D.C. interns. We are hoping to bring in a special guest speaker. A lot of the work over the past few days, however, has been related to the Justice Stevens event.

I am so grateful to be back in D.C., one of my favorite cities. Of course I am enjoying my internship, but no internship here would be complete without the full D.C. experience. I am living in an apartment, enjoying the history, taking walks and enjoying all of the activities here. Of course I have visited the White House, among other notable locatins. I also attended a Nationals baseball game against the Phillies on Friday night. I am so looking forward to the rest of my summer, and all of the opportunities and adventures that await.

– Marissa Ditkowsky