Manuela Ekowo '13 (Government & Legal Studies/Education Studies) had the opportunity to update the Indicators of Higher Education Attainment in Maine: College as a Right and Responsibility for all Maine People report for the Mitchell Institute. In this brief period of time, Manuela was able to fully understand the educational goals of the state of Maine, how the state is working to meet New England and national standards across all academic benchmarks and how over the past ten years, Maine has steadily made progress in most areas, exceeding New England and national levels on some standards. This internship has encouraged her to pursue her career interest in education, and has given her more insight into the operations of nonprofit organizations.
"I had a rewarding summer working at the Mitchell Institute. As an aspiring educator, I have learned a lot about the achievements and struggles of Maine students, and more importantly, about the tremendous effort that is required to prepare America’s children to lead successful lives in an ever-changing world."
Working at Preble Street Kayte Holtz '13 (Psychology) served meals to nearly 300 people daily. She started off greeting clients as she walked into the dining room each morning. By the end of the summer, numerous clients started to recognize her as a helpful part of their life and began to excitedly welcome her. Kayte spent her time organizing, prepping, cooking, cleaning and directing volunteers to do the same throughout the day to prepare for lunch. She enjoyed being a server at lunchtime knowing that she had helped to create and serve a meal that many would have otherwise gone without.
"I left work every day feeling fulfilled and satisfied with my day's work, knowing that I had helped in Preble Streets' mission of empowering those struggling with homelessness and hunger. Throughout my time there, I became very close with the Preble Street community including both co-workers and clients. Each person I encountered helped me learn about the daily problems faced by those dealing with homelessness."
This summer Lindsey Horowitz '12 (English and French) worked with Five Rivers Arts Alliance, a local non-profit committed to strengthening communities through the arts. She contributed to a new website that provides information about ArtWalks across the state and worked to strengthen membership through personal contact with artists. Because of the small size of this organization, Lindsey discovered how non-profits function from a variety of perspectives and contributed to nearly all aspects of the organization, including working with new groups whose missions closely align with that of FRAA.
"Working with FRAA allowed me to connect with Maine’s artistic community in ways that I could never have imagined, from visiting individual artists in their studios to communicating with artists beyond the Midcoast area to learn about their respective ArtWalks. I was truly inspired both by the mission of FRAA and by those committed to supporting the organization. These two together enable our vibrant, cultural community to thrive."
At Independence Association, Meg Ishizuka '12 (Psychology/Education Studies) helped create visual supports for the individuals the organization serves. These visual supports included routines that illustrate how to do laundry, clean rooms, shave, go to the bathroom, and shower. In addition, Meg's interactions with the safety committee and the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as her participation in incident report and person centered planning meetings provided insight into the daily running of a non-profit.
"My work at IA has taught me the importance of looking at people as individuals. Not everyone who has a particular disability is going to respond the same way to services provided. Everyone has their own unique set of needs and goals, and should be supported as individuals."
Emma James '13 (Anthropology/Education Studies) contributed to the Brunswick Housing Authority primarily with her design and marketing skills. She spent a majority of the summer creating Life as a Homeowner, a guide explaining how to budget, manage accounts, avoid foreclosure and plan for home maintenance. Emma played a major role in designing and then distributing materials to advertise housing in Harpswell and participated in the daily running of the office – designing templates, updating documents, and working on spreadsheets.
"The 'Bowdoin Bubble' can deceivingly display Brunswick as a predominantly affluent community. This summer I discovered that isn’t quite the case. My time spent at the BHA introduced me to the issues surrounding low-income housing and the options available to qualified persons. I worked with a group of wonderful people - all passionate about making sure that every citizen of Brunswick has a place to call home."
Amar Patel '12 (Economics and Government & Legal Studies) worked with the Maine Center for Economic Policy. His biggest project of this multifaceted summer was working with the policy analysts to create a profile of Cumberland County which examined the financial security of families. He also worked to update the yearly report on working poor families in the state and hosted his own State of the State television show on which two of his fellow classmates appeared.
"My fellowship at the MECEP was a great way of taking the concepts and skills I learned in the classroom and applying them to real world issues. Working with data for Maine and Cumberland County has given me an incredible opportunity to learn about the economic issues that face Maine families and a great appreciation for co-workers who strive to advance favorable policies."
Jordan Payne '12 (Government & Legal Studies and Sociology) worked with the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project, a non-profit legal aid organization that provides free legal information, assistance and representation to low income Mainers facing civil legal issues. For her summer project Jordan used her background in interviewing and video editing to create a recruitment video for the VLP website. She spent time taking client calls, and represented cases at VLP’s weekly "case meetings".
"Working at VLP has opened my eyes to the realm of legal problems that plague those without the socio-economic or educational means to deal with them alone. This fellowship has given me the unique opportunity to help actively combat this injustice every day. It is extremely rewarding to provide the resources and guidance to low-income Mainers facing civil legal issues who often have nowhere else to turn for support."
Jennifer Wenz '12 (Religion) worked with Community Financial Literacy, an ethnic community-based organization in Portland. CFL provides financial literacy courses for refugees and immigrants who need these basic skills to find financial stability for their families. She spent the summer conducting research for their strategic planning process, interviewing community leaders, partners, CFL members, and students about the refugee community in Portland and about how CFL can grow to meet their needs. She worked on a number of additional projects, including writing the 2010 Annual Report, developing new marketing tools, designing new organizational databases, and writing grants for new teaching programs.
"My internship has provided me an invaluable opportunity to understand the barriers facing our newest Americans and that financial literacy education is a true form of empowerment. Working with the incredible members of the CFL team has given me the inside perspective on how to start a nonprofit from the ground up. The mentors and leaders I’ve worked with this summer will continue to influence me as I start my own work after graduation."
Laurel Curtis '14 (undeclared) worked this summer with the Brunswick Farmers' Market to create a system to accept food stamps. Gaining the capacity to accept food stamps will not only provide an additional revenue source for the vendors at the farmers' market, but will increase the access of low-income individuals and families in the Brunswick area to fresh, locally grown and produced products. By using their benefits to purchase local products, rather than national brands, food stamp recipients directly support the local economy, including many farmers who are committed to sustainable agriculture methods.
"Through my work with the Brunswick Farmers' Market, I have discovered connections between the seemingly unrelated worlds of local, sustainable agriculture and hunger prevention. These connections have given me a new way of looking at issues of food equity and poverty abatement, in particular, searching for solutions that support local economies by providing paths out of poverty."
This summer through the Forest Foundation fellowship Kristin Rogers '12 (Psychology) worked with the City of Portland Refugee Services. She worked in many different roles assisting with grantwriting, employment services, and case management. Through this fellowship she had the opportunity not only to see the inner workings of a governmental non-profit, but also got to meet with numerous other organizations to see how they all collaborate to support the refugee communities in Maine.
"The Forest Foundation fellowship allowed me to reflect on my past experiences; academic, occupational, and personal, and synthesize the interests to create my own personalized fellowship that integrated many of my interests."