What made you want to intern with this business?
Having lived overseas, as well as several places in the United States, I have seen the amazing things that nonprofits do for people every day. Therefore, when I heard that Hood was offering a minor in nonprofits, I was extremely excited. This led me to decide to intern at a nonprofit this summer. Although I did some cursory checking into nonprofits in Frederick and other areas in Maryland, I ultimately decided to intern at Sowing Seeds of Hope in Perry County, Alabama—I heard about Sowing Seeds of Hope through my parents who had recently retired to the area.
The mission of Sowing Seeds of Hope is to improve the lives of the citizens of Perry County, one of the poorest counties in our nation. What really amazes and humbles me is how much difference the five or so people who work at Sowing Seeds of Hope have achieved and are achieving through their hard work and patience. After learning more about their organization, I knew I could not pass up the chance to work and learn in such an ambitious and motivated environment.
What are your internship responsibilities?
One of the fortunate things about interning at such a small organization as Sowing Seeds of Hope is that they have given me several responsibilities. These include interacting with local and state government leaders on issues related to Sowing Seeds of Hope’s activities and missions. I also research and draft grants that provide funding for Sowing Seeds of Hope. One of the larger grants that I am working on is the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development 523 Grant for Self Help Housing. This grant helps fund improvements on homes for residents of Perry County who qualify. I have also written a newspaper article about the activities of the nonprofit, correspondence asking for donations with follow-up letters thanking those who contribute either money or time and update the Sowing Seeds of Hope website and Facebook page. I have also helped repair houses, assisted as best I could in the clinic and helped at a sports camp for young people. However, one of my favorite responsibilities has been as a guest and even the host for a 30-minute radio program that discusses not only Sowing Seeds of Hope, but health issues, especially those related to the heat here in Alabama. I had previously co-hosted a show on Blazer Radio at Hood, which really prepared me for the radio show in Perry County.
How do you think you might apply what you’ve learned in your internship to classroom or career situations?
In the near-term, I really hope to apply what I’ve learned at Sowing Seeds of Hope toward my major and minor classes. For example, one of my classes will be on grant writing, so this is giving me real-world experience. Also, having experienced a little bit of local and state politics will hopefully help me in my remaining political science courses.
In the long-term, I was already strongly considering a career in nonprofit work, and working at Sowing Seeds of Hope has made me even more excited about that path. I have no doubt that the organizational skills and teamwork I’m learning at Sowing Seeds of Hope will help me in whatever career path I choose.
What is a life lesson that you have taken from your internship?
First, I think a lesson that Sowing Seeds of Hope and the people of Perry County have reaffirmed in me is that if we work together, we can overcome anything. The staff, volunteers and people of Perry County have been absolutely fantastic to me.
The lesson that stands out among all my experiences is patience. I arrived at Sowing Seeds of Hope full of energy and confidence that I would be able to solve a lot of issues during my summer internship. What I quickly learned is that things take time, especially at a nonprofit that is dependent on the government and others for funding and volunteers. Therefore, it takes patience and perseverance in order for activities to come to fruition. In fact, even when plans are laid out perfectly, from my perspective, there will inevitably be a slowdown or even a change in those plans somewhere down the road. This can happen due to a lack of funding and volunteers or because of bad weather or simply there is a larger event that has taken a higher priority in the community’s mind. At the end of the day, the hard work of nonprofits like Sowing Seeds of Hope are vital not just in the U.S., but around the world. However, that hard work is much easier when you have patience, a good sense of humor, exceptional co-workers and a great community like I did at Sowing Seeds of Hope and Perry County.