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.
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.
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