As part of her fellowship with Independence Association , a non-profit with a mission of assisting those with disabilities in obtaining full and inclusive lives in their community, Lily interviewed parents of children with developmental disabilities about services that would enable the entire family to thrive. She also worked with members of the marketing committee to develop text for the redesigned website and assisted in implementing the Peer-to-Peer Resources Project for Independence Association adult clients interested in sharing their skills with others. In addition, by serving for the summer as an Executive Assistant to the Director, Lily was able to learn the intricacies of running and organization. Lastly, Lily was fortunate to be able to spend time talking with and working alongside artists at Spindleworks, a studio and gallery space for adults with disabilities.
"This fellowship has given me the chance to see the strengths of the Brunswick community. There are countless examples of organizations and individual community members working together for common goals that I never would have noticed without my time at Independence Association."
Michel Bamani spent his fellowship working as an intern with Volunteers of America, whose focus is providing affordable low-income housing for seniors and a variety of services for youth, adults and families. Michel spent his summer conducting data analysis and data collections, as well as interacting with kids. By serving as a counselor at Camp POSTCARD he played outdoors with kids and police officers for three hours a week. Michel was responsible for a survey project on elderly abuse, which included data analysis and interpretation, presenting data at a board meeting and revising the survey to better capture the desired information in the future. Michel also helped collect data regarding the BNAS closing and its possible effects on homelessness in the area, and worked on a project to help VOA strengthen their programs so that they meet their desired outcomes.
"My fellowship taught me the importance of advocacy and the extent of issues that seriously need to be addressed within our society. My experience at Volunteers of America has served as an eye-opener and as a motivator in stimulating my desire to raise awareness and create changes regarding societal issues surrounding youth and elderly abuse as well as people with mental illnesses."
Anna Karass spent her summer at Tedford Shelter, the primary provider of shelter and housing services to residents in the area. Through her work, Karass increased her awareness of homeless issues in the area, as well as gained valuable work experience in the non-profit sector. Her first project at Tedford introduced her to grant writing and provided her with the opportunity to write portions of a federal grant application with guidance from Housing and Resources Director, Giff Jamison. Karass also developed program policies and procedures for an innovative mentoring program designed to provide homeless families and those at risk for homelessness with a caring mentor. Karass’ final project allowed her to experiment with technology by redesigning and updating the Tedford Shelter website.
"My experience working with Tedford Shelter as a Community Action Fellow was invaluable. At Tedford I felt like my projects were meaningful and actually made a difference. I wasn't just another intern who did the photocopying and filed papers."
Sara Schlotterbeck worked at the Oasis Health Center in Brunswick with their Community Prescription Assistance Program (CPAP). The Oasis Health Center is a free clinic that provides quality health care to eligible uninsured adults in the area. CPAP assists both patients of the clinic and patients of providers in the area in obtaining free or low-cost prescriptions through pharmaceutical company programs. Her responsibilities included patient advocacy work, research, answering phones, writing, processing applications for prescription assistance and working with others at Oasis to address situations as they arose.
"I will take the lessons that I learned from co-workers and patients at Oasis with me for the rest of my life. I feel like I have developed a deep understanding of the challenges and vital importance of providing quality health care to all."
Debbie Theodore spent the summer working with Five Rivers Arts Alliance, a non-profit arts organization that seeks to connect the arts, culture and heritage of the mid-coast region. Debbie focused on writing promotional material for Five Rivers events, editing and adding content to the organization’s new website, gathering survey responses from local artists, promoting Five Rivers Arts Alliance at regional festivals, and attending board and committee meetings to learn about the structure of non-profit organizations. She frequently visited arts venues in Brunswick and became familiar with the challenges that local artists, gallery owners and arts and cultural organizations face. She also worked on developing closer ties between Five Rivers Arts Alliance and Bowdoin College by building relationships with the Art and Music Departments.
"Because of this fellowship, I have been able to feel like a member of Brunswick as well as a student at Bowdoin. My experience at Five Rivers Arts Alliance has shown me the energy and creativity within the Brunswick community and has revealed the benefits of building closer ties between Brunswick and Bowdoin."
Alex Weaver worked in the Town of Brunswick Planning and Development Office. Much of Alex’s early work included learning about the major issues in Brunswick, through reading relevant literature and by attending meetings of local committees and organizations. As the summer progressed, Alex took on a number of projects that had a direct impact on the course of these issues throughout the summer. Such projects included compiling a funding spreadsheet for the MidCoast Collaborative of local organizations that should be contacted to make public transportation in Brunswick a reality; creating a photo documentation packet for the Town Council about Bowdoin College’s New Soccer Field project; designing two projects for Bowdoin’s upcoming Common Good Day; and helping write a grant for the Maine Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program. In addition, Alex took meeting notes at various meetings, attended site walks to get a first-hand understanding of some of the issues, sat in on small developer meetings, and offered general help around the office.
"To me the most important thing about this fellowship experience was gaining a sense of personal professionalism by being provided the freedom to explore the major issues in Brunswick while at the same time having people around me who could guide me when needed."