My Attempts at Making A Difference (Experiences in Non-profit Work)

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As a young, working lady, it’s common for people to ask me what industry I work in, and what exactly it is that I do. I think it comes to a huge surprise to people when I admit that I decided to forego from the typical college student job of an intern, retail sales associate, or server. This is partially because of the subtle age discrimination against millennials (which is an issue to be discussed at another time), and a majority because of the fact that I work for a non-profit organization. The second question after that reveal, is always, ninety-nine percent of the time, “How?”

When you’re a little kid, you have a dream career. Everyone has one, whether you’re dreaming of flying off into the stars, or running around in a classroom full of young and curious minds. But for me, although I had a specific career in mind, one thing that I always wanted to do was to make a difference and change the world.

That statement often brings a weird look or a giggle to people, which I honestly think is just sad. I don’t think that making a difference in the world is something that should be considered comically impossible or a weird concept, it should be viewed as something easy to do, and highly attainable. Because it is not impossible for someone to make a difference, and at risk of sounding like a complete cliche, you can make a difference in just one simple act.

I worked for my first non-profit my third year of college, I was looking for a career closer to the field of healthcare, and I found a healthcare related non-profit organization. Like any other job, with changes and time passing by, my role and circumstances changed. After some time, I realized that I genuinely wanted to grow more professionally, and sometimes you just have to find new opportunities and move forward. I knew that (my current organization) was perfect for me, during my interview when The Executive Director told me that there was this vision of me working to find healthcare, medication, and patient care for the homeless population that the organization serves one day, because it perfectly fused my passion for healthcare and helping the homeless population. It was the difference that I knew I wanted to make on this world.

Of course, there would be a lot of development work before that point, but that didn’t matter, because the mission resonated with me so much. The biggest thing about working for a non-profit is the organization itself; I always believe that you have to believe in the mission of what you are doing, regardless of what type of work you are doing. I believed in our work, with every fiber of my being.

As I watch my peers complain about their work, I admittedly feel bad, because I love coming to work each and every day. I love seeing the phenomenal outcomes of all of the hard work and collaboration everyone does. It is amazing to meet new people each and every day, and to hear their story, knowing that each and every task that I do is working towards getting them a brighter future. It is a great thing, when I enter checks into the databases that come from people that we have saved off the streets, who believe in giving back. And it is amazing to see that look of hope on each and every person’s face when they walk through this door, and to see it become so much brighter when they leave.

People are often deterred from trying to make an impact because they believe that they have to either commit themselves to a non-profit for the rest of their lives, or have a massive amount of financial means to do so, and that isn’t the case. You make a difference in the actions that you do, no matter how small or large. Whether you realize it or not, is a completely different matter.

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