Three Reasons to Fund AmeriCorps

The new administration plans to cancel funding for AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps has given me the chance to use my degree, learn new skills, and taste fabulous caramel ice cream at orientation. (Guess which was most important). Here are three reasons to fund AmeriCorps.

  • It fights poverty. I volunteer at an organization that assists people with disabilities to find meaningful work. These people not only have to overcome their individual disabilities, but the stigma that comes with having them.
  • It encourages diversity. In the town where I grew up, most everyone was rich and white. In elementary school, my sister thought that lawyer and doctor were very common careers because so many kids’ parents had them. The world isn’t this homogenous. AmeriCorps gave me the chance to meet people that, surprise, weren’t exactly like me.
  • It enables young people to find work. Employers want experience, but you can’t get experience unless you’ve had a job. This irony is why almost 40% of young people (ages 22, 23, and 24) get financial help from our parents. AmeriCorps gets our feet in the workplace door.

AmeriCorps isn’t an expense. It’s an investment—one the new administration should make.

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Friendship Speed Dating: It’s Not as Awkward as You Think

I’m an introvert. I spend my Friday nights curled on the couch with a cup of tea. My family teases me about becoming a crazy cat lady and the scary part is they’re only half joking. This week, I decided to force myself out of the house and try friendship speed dating. Here are five reasons why it can be fun.

  • In two minutes, the conversation is over. If you’ve said “How’s it going?” three times already, the organizers will tell you to move.
  • They have conversational prompts. I kept using the one, “What Hogwarts house would you be in?” Returning to my nerd roots.
  • Other introverts come out of the woodwork. Strangely enough, I found myself doing most of the talking.
  • Weird coincidences happen. One of the people I met had lived in my childhood hometown. And she liked tea too, so we hit it off.
  • Eventually, your heart stops pounding. This happens around the time you take off the jacket where you put your name tag.

It’s normal to be scared. At the start of the night, I came this close to introducing myself as “Hello, I’m terrified.”  But you might meet another cat lady—so go anyway.

Five Signs You Work in Non-Profit

I’ve worked in non-profit for six months and it’s been fascinating. For instance, we have our own hilariously bad jargon i.e. calling those who haven’t given in years “lapsed donors.” Here is a list of things you experience in the non-profit world.

  • You’re passionate—the type of passion that makes you re-write your letter of inquiry five times.
  • Your office building is jettisoning nails and plaster.
  • You want to make a difference in the lives of those you serve and empower the community. And you need to find a way to say that which isn’t mind numbingly boring.
  • Your co-workers have big dreams. One of mine plans to start a half-way house for recent prisoners. Another wants to build a “free-range” playground. It sounds like free range chicken, but it’s a place for open play where kids can go get dirty like they did in the days before cell phones.
  • You know overhead costs are important. You can’t run your programs if you can’t keep the lights on or pay your staff.

Tip: If you can’t get the building fixed, don’t park in the spot below where the nails are falling. My boss did this and one punctured her tire.

A Perfectionist’s Guide to Making a Mistake

Everyone makes mistakes—cliché but true. I’m a perfectionist, so when I make one it goes off like a burglar alarm inside my head: “Mistake Alert. Mistake Alert.” This post is about turning off the alarm so you can go to bed and get some sleep before work.

  • Remember, perfect people are boring. No one roots for perfect characters because they are Mary Sues with no personality. They have perfect abs and silted dialogue.
  • Take deep breaths. It’s simple, but I know it works because I’ve had to do it.
  • Watch comedy. Better to laugh at Samantha Bee saying a billion synonyms for “pussy” than dwell on why you didn’t email the job coaches sooner so they knew about the scheduling.
  • Remember the things you do well. We perfectionists hyper focus on the things that went wrong. It’s like the highlighting I did in college. The things we do well are just as important.
  • One mistake will not ruin your life. Don’t try meth; everything else is fixable.

So inhale, relax your shoulders, and wriggle back under the covers.