Center for Community Engagement

Education Group's Final Product

Submitted by Kayla D. Smith on Sunday, 6/26/2011, at 11:23 AM

For our final presentation, the Education group has decided make a website template that all non-profit organizations can use. Our focus is communication. We want to teach non-profit organizations the importance of communicating with themselves, with other non-profit organizations, and with the communities they work with. Since there is easy access to computers nowadays, we figured that organizations can effectively educate the public through websites. As a result, we want to make and "About Me" section of the website so that organizations can describe their history and purpose, as well as a communication part of the website where anyone in the public can post a question and/or comment and the organization can respond. Finally, we want to emphasize to non-profits that they should use communication websites like Facebook and/or Twitter and update their page on a regular basis.

Our group came up with this idea because we noticed that many of our non-profit organizations (including the ones we are working for) lack effective communication skills. A lack of communication skills puts a barrier between them and the public. For example, I know that in my own non-profit organization, there is tension between the physicians and the patients because of socio-economical differences, cultural differences, etc. However, if patients could communicate with the medical staff on a comfortable, informal level, then everyone would feel more comfortable working with each other. Also, better communication devices could influence the patients to follow their doctors' advice since they have better relationships with them. Overall, improving communication skills among non-profits will help them to better educate themselves and educate the public.    

2nd Week: Dresdiana

Submitted by Dresdina Mavindidze on Thursday, 6/23/2011, at 9:44 AM

 As an intern with the Trustees, my position entails doing all sorts of random things, I could say from anything to everything. Each morning on my way to work I try to imagine what I will be doing for that day, and at the end of the day on my way back home I wonder what the next day holds in store. I also think about a long term project that I was assigned to work on.Next to Little Tom Mountain is an abandoned quarry that is going to be part of the property for the Trustees of Reservations. Not only does it make the scenery look ugly but also it poses as a hazard for people and other forms of life. Underway is a scheme to reclaim and restore that land, in ways that are possible, realistic and somewhat cheap, but still effective. The advent of technology would suggest that the land can be leveled out with the use of a topsoil screener, a device that has proved to be very handy even in the most heavy-duty situations. Once reclaimed, the land can be used as a residential or even commercial building site.As far as this is concerned,writing a research paper on other suggested ways of restoring a quarry is a project that I am still to start.

Submitted by Nedia M. Morsy on Monday, 6/20/2011, at 1:19 PM

I have always been an advocate of lists. I, too, make a list at the start of the day, which becomes revised and replaced during the course of that day.  I tend to number tasks according to level of priority and like Nicole, believe the pressure that comes from a deadline makes for a productive day. At the MFHC, I have begun to use post-its on all my paperwork and organize desktop files into folder and those into servers. I prefer to work alone, slowly, and in the quiet. I, unfortunately/luckily, have yet to be forced to adapt to loud, busy environments.

Kayla's Second Week: Work Style

Submitted by Kayla D. Smith on Sunday, 6/19/2011, at 10:24 PM

My work style varies in regards to the type of assignment. However, I've noticed that in general, I like to start with a plan before and after I work. My plan is organized in my head or written on paper. It usually consists of a list of things to do and when to do it by. I like to organize my work day before I start so that I know what things I need to prioritize. In addition, at the end of the work day and during the beginning of a new work day, I reflect on my day so I know what things I have accomplished and what tasks I still need to work on. My reflection also helps me to  realize what methods worked and/or did not work so that I know how to pace certain tasks the next day. Overall, my work style heavily relies on planning.

In addition, my work style can contribute to educating non-profit organizations because it is important for different groups to have a plan regarding their mission. For example, the organization that I work for has deadlines regarding certain aspects of the healthcare project, but no deadline regarding the larger goal of the project. Although it is important to have deadlines for smaller tasks, it is also vital to an organization to have deadlines to bring those tasks together. If there is no deadline for the greater mission, then it makes the groups more vulnerable to procrastinating a goal which results in prolonging the results. Overall, I think a prepared and organized work-style is essential for non-profit organizations so that they can grow and prosper in less time.


Week 2: My Work Style

Submitted by Nicole French Sanches on Sunday, 6/19/2011, at 9:10 PM


I think that the way I most often go about problem solving is that I try something and asses the situation while I’m in it. Then if something is difficult I take a step back and consider a better way of doing something. My favorite kind of work is busy but not busy-work. I like to work with a deadline or a little bit of pressure so that I can pace myself and measure my progress. I like to be working the whole time I’m at work, and it’s hard for me to put down something I’m working on to take a break so I schedule my breaks ahead of time. This seems silly, but makes me much more relaxed. My ‘work style’ works best when I organize myself.


Neighbor to Neighbor

Submitted by Clay Andrews on Thursday, 6/16/2011, at 4:25 AM

Hey Everyone,


I'm working at Neighbor to Neighbor in Holyoke this summer. This organization works to help poorer communities represent themselves in Massachusetts government. One way that we work to achieve this goal is by increasing voter turnout among poorer demographics. We go house-to-house in targeted neighborhoods registering people to vote, we educate these people on pertinent issues that different candidates support, and we make sure that everyone can show up at the polls on election day. In this way we are building a voting base that trusts Neighbor to Neighbor to uphold its wants and needs. From this increase in electoral power comes an increase in political power. Now that politicians recognize that Neighbor to Neighbor represents thousands of voters, the organization has the political power to pressure already elected government officials to fight for the needs of low-income communities. Government officials understand that if they don't at least respect the concerns of Neighbor to Neighbor, they may lose a significant chunk of votes in the next election. The final, not-yet realized purpose of the organization will be grooming its own potential candidates that come from the poorer communities which it represents. This effort to develop political leaders from the community will be the last step in achieving an organization that provides representation for its members.


My first week at Neighbor to Neighbor has been great. I work with two supervisors.  One, Lena, comes in twice a week and she is a native English-speaker who speaks Spanish fluently. The other, Ana, is who I work with everyday and she is a native Spanish-speaker who is learning English. We work in a small, one-room office in the basement of an apartment building--I suspect it is a converted daycare. Throughout the first week I have helped to design flyers, fact sheets, and FAQs explaining problems in the community that Neighbor to Neighbor is working to fix. I also have attended several trainings explaining Neighbor to Neighbor's mission and process. I was taught to use the online computer database, VAN, which is used to map voting constituencies for campaigns. I also have gone door-to-door once, observing how Neighbor to Neighbor members interact with others in the community. The Holyoke municipal elections are right around the corner in the Fall, and we are working to figure out how each candidate for mayor and city council stands on important issues. We have interviewed several candidates and we plan to interview the rest.

First Week at ACT NOW!

Submitted by Shayonna Cato on Monday, 6/13/2011, at 11:47 AM
Hi everyone! This summer I'll be working at a nonprofit in town called ACT NOW! ACT NOW!'s mission is to empower youth through improvisation and movie-making. More specifically, ACT NOW! hopes to build character and improve self-confidence in young girls. This summer, I'll primarily be involved with heading and organizing one of our two playshops. An ACT NOW! playshop is a week-long workshop that we hold during the summer for girls ages 11-14. During this week, the girls are allowed to (essentially) write, direct and star in their own movie. My job during this summer will also involve a few small administrative tasks and advertising to/recruiting girls for our playshops. Based on my first week at ACT NOW!, I do see education having a role in my internship. For one thing, I think education figures prominently in the transfer of leadership. Until a couple months ago, ACT NOW! was headed by it's founder during the ten years of it's existence. As it stands now, I feel that the transfer of information from the old leadership to the new could be improved upon. Also, I see education coming into play with our playshops. ACT NOW! works to educate youth about not only the theater, but issues/themes that are relevant to their growth and development. Past playshops have been centered around bullying, body issues, alcohol and drug use etc. I'm looking forward to these next couple weeks--and educating myself more about what ACT NOW! does.

Week 1 at Tapestry Health...

Submitted by Owanate V. Briggs on Monday, 6/13/2011, at 9:18 AM

My first week at the regional office of Tapestry Health was marked by many warm welcomes. After being introduced to what seemed like the entire office, Khalil and I sat down with the CEO and Director of Development to review Tapestry’s current mission and some strategies to accomplish that mission. During this meeting we discussed the general goals of the organization as a whole, as well as our individual projects as interns. In the next seven weeks, I will be working closely with the CEO, Leslie Laurie, in the task of establishing Tapestry’s presence in the Five Colleges, a project that will no doubt include a high level of community outreach through education. Meanwhile, I will keep up with public health policy here in Massachusetts, as well as internationally.

I can tell that working with Leslie will be an enriching experience. She constantly drops by my cubicle with interesting articles and documents to help me get better acquainted with healthcare services in the Pioneer Valley and beyond. Moreover, she emphasizes the importance of personally seeing these facilities and their impact on communities. She has already given Khalil and I an entire day to explore Tapestry’s sites in Springfield, and next week we will be traveling to Kripula, a center for yoga and health, where Tapestry will be raising money. I am definitely looking forward to the weeks ahead. 

The Survival Center

Submitted by Tinsae Zerihun on Monday, 6/13/2011, at 12:36 AM

This summer I am working at the Amherst Survival Center. The Amherst Survival Center has three main sections. The first section is the kitchen where they serve free lunches. The second section is the free store where they give out free clothing to the people in need. I work in the third section,the food pantry, which serves the purpose of a food bank. In the food pantry, my task is to assit the different families, who use the pantry, in making their food boxes. I also have the task of inputing the information about the box and the different donations.

Education was key in my first week of interning at the survival center. The first week has given me a better understanding of the goals and the purpose of the survival center in the community it serves. I now understand that the survival center has a big impact on the community because of the free necessity it provides. This week also has given me a better perspective of the  town of Amherst and the neighboring towns. During my frist year at amherst I was only exposed to the college scenes and the different privileges in the amherst bubble so this week was important in presenting a different side of amherst.

Charter 21

Submitted by Dylan L. Volz on Sunday, 6/12/2011, at 11:13 PM


This week I began working at Charter 21 in downtown Amherst. Charter 21 is a marketing company that only works with socially responsible businesses. My first week has been busy. I have been assigned to three ongoing projects for the summer. I will be working on coding an updated version of Charter 21’s website. I will also be working on revamping the website mentors4me for one of their clients. Aside from my web development work I am working on the launch of Tru2u underwear in the 5 college area. Tru2u is a college student designed business that will sell underwear produced in fair labor factories in order to raise awareness for global labor issues.
Education has been a large part of everything I have done this week, from teaching myself about the software I will be using to create the websites to learning about the issues Charter21’s clients are addressing. Socially responsible marketing is about educating people about the positive changes their choices can make. Tru2u underwear is a business designed not only to sell underwear but also to educate people about the issues faced by low income workers in the global marketplace. I hope that over the next weeks of my internship I can continue to expand the role of education, both for myself and others.