Today marks the end of my fourth week at NeighborLink. This means I am officially at the halfway point of my summer internship. When thinking back over these past four weeks, the first word that comes to mind is ownership. This simple word has played into my summer in more ways than one.
The first reason I use this word to encompass my summer experience thus far is because of my role at NeighborLink as the Operations Coordinator intern. Which basically means I do a little bit of everything. This could be anything from small administrative tasks to carrying on bigger projects for our organization. In the short amount of time that I have worked at NeighborLink, I have been thrown into many situations where I felt that I really just had no idea what I was doing. This is where stepping up and taking ownership of each task becomes vital to my success. I have learned how to be resourceful and to use my problem-solving skills to accomplish any task I'm given.
The second reason that I use the word ownership is because of the work that NeighborLink does. When volunteers decide to coach a project, they are taking full ownership of the project. They contact the recipient, set up the date and time, and contact any extra volunteers needed for the project. In turn, they feel a sense of responsibility for the person they are helping, and they can connect on a deeper level than they would by simply joining a project. NeighborLink is about finding the passion within in our own hearts to want to help our neighbors, and not waiting around forsomeone else to do something.
This is a concept that has slowly been revealed tome through my weeks at NeighborLink. For the first couple of weeks, I was only overseeing the volunteer and project process by sitting at my desk and hiding behind a computer screen. Although working behind-the-scenes is a great way to contribute to NeighborLink's mission, I felt that God was calling me to work more directly with the recipients. So, that is exactly what I started doing this week.
I decided to coach a project for a woman who needed a simple meal prepared for her as well as some groceries to get her though the weekend. This was something that was so easy for me to do, but it meant the world to her. She kept repeating how thankful she was, and after only a few minutes of conversation it became clear that she needed more than food: she needed love. She needed to feel a sense of community and to know that her neighbors were going to be there to support her. In that moment, I was able to experience the true heart of NeighborLink.
This experience with my first NeighborLink project allowed me to see the work that we do behind-the-scenes in action. I was able to see the difference that our volunteers really do have in the community. All it takes is someone with the necessary skills to see the need and decide that it is up to them to take action.
With all this being said, the third reason I chose this word is because without each individual taking ownership of smaller projects, there would be no way for us to make big changes within the community. When everyone does their part to help their neighbors, this is when we start to see big things happen. The work that this organization does and the passion that our staff and volunteers have for helping others is truly inspiring. I am excited to see what else NeighborLink has in store in the second half of my internship!
Operations Coordinator Intern