Archive for the ‘ACORN Housing’ Tag

The Non-Profit Passion

When originally choosing to attend college my top three reasons for attending the school I did were the following:

  • 1. Size
  • 2. Distance from home
  • 3. Food

That was pretty much it. I visited Texas Lutheran University once, had an amazing meal and said, “Sign me up!” As I look back, two years after graduation and a year and a half into a non-profit career there probably were other reasons (and other forces) which guided me towards this choice. Whatever those forces and reasons were, it got me to where I am today.

As a sophomore in college I found the Wesley Foundation. It was pretty much the perfect time for me to find the United Methodist group. It started out large, but by the time I was a senior it was a core group of 5-6 people who could count on each other for thoughts, prayers, fellowship. and weekend outings. I also counted on them to find what to do after graduation.

And that’s where the non-profit journey began. With two degrees in hand (Psychology and Spanish) but no direction (much like this blog) I headed to Project Transformation where I would search for what I would do next. Of course, much like all Psychology majors, my idea of post-graduation was, “Well I’ll help people for a little bit and then go to Grad school for something…” but what would I do for that time in between? Would I be a social worker? Would I be a counselor? Would I work in HR? Project Transformation showed us how we could serve the world according to our purposes.

There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. – 1 Corithians 12:5

pt_logoThroughout the summer, this verse was explained through various “experiences.” By visiting people who were “serving” in different ways I saw that serving wasn’t just being a “social worker” or a “minister” or a “teacher.” It was very powerful, and life changing.  With the explosion of service and the increased funding for Service I recomend every college student spend at least a quarter of a term with AmeriCorps; whether it be with PT or with another organization that better suites you.

Taking these findings back home, I set out to find my way to serve according to my purpose. Oh my, did that take a long time. Student loans started to come, cell phone bills came and went and I was desperate. It wasn’t long until serving with a purpose took the backseat to making some type of money. I wasn’t going to be strong enough to play the Emerging Church enlightened follower yet. No ma’am. No sir. So, I set off to find myself, not, the job, but a job.  And I found it. I found one. As the deeded telemarketer. And I wasn’t the only college graduate who couldn’t find a job there. We all dreaded the days in and out of the cubicles, “smiling and dialing.” But it paid the bills.

I let my bosses know that I was looking for “the one.” It was like the telemarketing job and I were friends with benefits but nothing would ever come of what we were doing together. Sad, because there were ways to move up in the company. I went on several interviews, including “social worker” and “case manager” but none panned out until March of 2008. It was a dreary day in South Texas. I trekked my way downtown to an area I would never have gone before to an office building that I got lost in. And I got hired!

I got hired for “the job.” It was as a “community organizer.” I had never heard the term before and this was just before Barack Obama burst on to the national scene to tell everyone what a community organizer was. Hearing some of the things an organizer did scared me. But, it was an excited scared, not a scared scared like telemarketing did to me.  I was going to be helping people, I was going to be fighting for rights and justice and the people I wanted to help from the time I was young. I was going to be working for ACORN.

And then came elections. And I didn’t register a single person to vote. San Antonio registered a handful of people to vote, all friends of friends. But, Ohio, Nevada, and Missouri sure did register a lot more people to vote then I did. So many that the people that were funding my paycheck didn’t want to pay it anymore. And that’s when “the job” was gone.

Back to square one, back to the internet and back to prayer. And Oh my. What to do? What to do? Well. Five to ten interviews came and went with no luck. The funding still hadn’t come back…but then came the phone call. It was ACORN Housing, “NeighborWorks is going on its second year and we need someone for Quality Control. Will you do it? It’s full time. And even though it says temporary in the description, I can say it’ll last at least two year.” Score one for me! And here I am. Fully employed, serving according to my purpose, saving the world, one house at a time, and I love it. And everyone has their story. And this is mine.

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Both Worlds

Today’s Topic: How amazing I am. 

Not to brag or anything. But, I pretty much am. Haha. Wait. I am. 

boratSo, I’m talking to one of my many co-workers, colleagues, cohorts, whatever at ACORN and she starts name dropping. She says, “Ashley, I’m on National Conference calls all the time. And so and so and this and that always talk about you. They say that Texas is doing so much better now that they have you. I’m so afraid that they’re going to take you away from us. It’s nice to have someone who understands both worlds.” 

Understands both worlds? I understand the world of non-profits and the world of fashion. Or at least I try to. Lo que sea amigos. I just try my best.  I go to work everyday, I turn on the computer, turn up the volumn on my music, and start answering e-mails. And I tweet. And I facebook, and I check message boards. When i get home I write one or two blog entries. And I repeat. That’s all there is to it. Nothing too serious.

So, here’s the deal. Just be yourself.  Just do what you think is the best. Whether it’s helping people, or just letting things happen, things will be alright. In the immortal words of Mylie Cyrus: 

 

There’s always going to be another mountain.

I’m always gonna want to make it move.

There’s always going to be an uphill battle.

There’s always going to be another battle.

Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose.  

 

And that’s how I see it. I may have not gotten to this point as quickly as I wanted to, I may still be living with my parents, I may have to defer my student loans until I’m 50, but you know what? I’m happy. 

Until the next time I write…hopefully soon….

 

–Ashley