Center for Community Engagement

Week 1 - Mary Katherine

Submitted by Mary Katherine McNeill on Monday, 6/13/2011, at 9:05 PM

This summer I will be working at Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA).  This organization, by recruiting several different types of members, ultimately functions to promote local agriculture in Western Massachusetts.  First, farms can enjoy the benefits of advertising through CISA (which will list the farm in its annual Farm Product Guide and create a page on its website).  CISA also will offer workshops for farms that teach things such as marketing techniques at farmers' markets.  On the other side of spectrum, CISA members are also retailers, restaurants, and institutions (like Amherst!) that sell food from local agriculture.  These members also enjoy the benefits of advertising and access to various workshops.  All these members are called "Local Heroes" and I've been working a lot with the Local Hero Member Services Coordinator.

During my first week, I got to assist CISA in a variety of ways.  I did some standard "intern" work like making copies and sending mailings, but I got to do many other interesting things as well.  First, CISA has a press page that creates links to articles about Local Heroes.  I did the summaries of several of these articles and created links to the full articles when available on the website.  I also went through evaluations of workshops and summarized the results.  Additionally, CISA's annual Farmers Product Guide came out during my first week, so I helped in picking up some of the guides from the publisher and distributing them to various members.  

Empowerment seems important with CISA particularly on the side of the farms and other growers.  CISA, through various means, allows these local growers to improve themselves.  Furthermore, by creating better local farms, the retailers, restaurants, and consumers in general are better off in the end as well because they can obtain a better product.  

Week 1 - Khalil

Submitted by Khalil Grell on Sunday, 6/12/2011, at 11:42 PM

This summer I will be working with Tapestry Health.  Tapestry Health is an organization that offers free or really low -priced health care throughout Massachusetts to individuals in need. While participating mainly in family planning and reproductive health care, Tapestry also assists injection drug users and offers counseling and assistance to the LBGTQ community. My individual role is more behind the scenes where I work with the developmental department of the organization and helping to increase revenue earned from their fundraising events.

During my first week I spent a lot of time reviewing events the organization has done in the past and brainstorming events for next year. My first big project is to create a calendar of events and adjustments that will help Tapestry become more organized and actually have a clear gameplan going into next year - something the organization hasn't really ever had thus far. In addition, I have also been just been trying to become more informed about Tapestry and their causes.

Empowerment really comes into play with Tapestry because whether it be through counseling or through picking up free condoms at a Tapestry clinic, by doing so you are inevitably empowering yourself. You better prepare yourself for situations that you will be placed into in the future and give yourself at least the option to make the best decision for you.

Week1- Diana

Submitted by Diana B. Babineau on Sunday, 6/12/2011, at 11:07 PM

I am working for the Youth Action Coalition in Amherst. This nonprofit runs after-school "Arts-for-Change" programs for the middle and high schools in Amherst and surrounding towns, such as Ware and Easthampton. These programs combine arts/media projects and social justice education to help youth become leaders and make their voices heard in their communities. 

I currently have a lot of projects to work on. YAC hires interns during the school year to facilitate the programs and work with the youth. I am putting together outlines for the 3-4 training sessions that will help these interns communicate and interact effectively with the youth. I am also receiving many evaluations from the youth who participated in the programs. I have to organize all this data in Excel.

Later on in my internship I am going to be interviewing the staff members that run the individual programs in order to compile all of their ideas and work into one binder - this binder will continue to be added to over the years, and will be passed on to future staff members as a guide to the programs.

My E is Empowerment, and actually, the intern training guide I am forming incorporates a "Youth Empowerment" workshop that revolves around the idea of treating youths as equals, and giving them a voice and a chance to lead. One of YAC's goals is to boost young people's confidence and give them the opportunity to prove to themselves and their community that they can make a difference through art/media projects.

Looking forward to continuing my work at YAC! Overall, a great first week :)

Week 1

Submitted by Amina F. Taylor on Sunday, 6/12/2011, at 10:47 PM

This summer I am working at the Trustees of Reservations, a non profit organization that aims to strengthen the community through environmental conservation and awareness. In particular, I am working as an Education Intern helping to organize youth education programs for the Trustees. While I will be assisting with our weekly Boys and Girls program, I have chosen to primarily focus on our work with the Holyoke Youth Conservation Corps (HYCC). Last year, I helped the Trustees jump start this program which offers a paid summer job to five high school students living in the area. The students meet Monday through Thursday completing various environmentally conscious projects such as park clean ups and invasive species pulls. They are also required to complete an educational component, attending weekly classroom sessions led by Trustees employees and environmental specialists. By instilling a sense of independence we hope to inspire our students to "take back the community" through group leadership and "empowerment".

When I think of empowerment, I invision the same sense of "taking back the community" by the community, that drives the HYCC. While many programs run by not only the Trustees but non profit organizations in general take this into account, I do believe there are some issues surrounding their sustainability. Further, how do we inspire the community to continue these efforts following the duration of the programs? How do we "empower" leaders in the community to take the place of the program, itself, embodying and pursuing the issues initiated by the non-profit organizations? If we as  non profits are creating programs that do not provide the community with the independence and knowledge to potentially reproduce our efforts, we are not fufilling our true purpose.

Week 1

Submitted by Madison Cortez on Sunday, 6/12/2011, at 2:47 PM

This summer I'm working at the American Friends Service Committee, which does work on a lot of different issues. Basically, they believe in the inherent dignity of all people and work to see that realized. I'm working specifically on the Preserving Our Civil Rights campaign in Northampton, which seeks to get the Northampton police department to opt-out of the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency) program called Secure Communities, among other things. I'll spare you all the exact details of the campaign, but if you're interested in learning more about it feel free to ask me about it.

This first week was mostly spent reading about Secure Communities and other ICE programs, familiarizing myself with the campaign, and going to meetings in Northampton and one in Springfield (to discuss bringing a similar campaign there). I also got to do some writing--updating existing campaign literature and drafting new stuff. And then, on a more practical campaign level, I made calls to potential volunteers about canvassing. 

I see Empowerment coming into play at my internship because the campaign I'm part of is very grassroots. The resolution we're trying to get passed in Northampton isn't something that the whole city votes on: the City Council decides whether or not to pass it. We're talking not only to the City Councilors but also to the community, encouraging them to be active members of their city and write to their City Councilor about this. We're basically empowering the community to voice their opinion on this issue, even if they can't vote on it. I guess what my organization is doing is trying to show that one needn't be directly in power to affect change.