One word to describe my internship with Panhandle Community Services? Fortunate. I have experienced a side of social service that many have never seen before. I have witnessed the tireless efforts of kind social workers whose purpose in life is to help those who are less fortunate than themselves. I have had the opportunity to work for an organization whose mission I can really get behind. For my first ‘grown-up’ job, it was a great experience.
Everything seems to go back to the mission, which is the sign of a good organization. The mission is, “To work with community partners to Change Lives and Lead Change for low-income people bridging the gap from poverty to self-sufficiency.” Everything they do is to work toward helping others become self sufficient. I was brought on to work in community outreach for this purpose. PCS wanted to know what their clients wanted to learn, what skills they wanted to gain. They wanted to see what they could do to help these people get on their feet. I was tasked with writing surveys and creating focus group presentations to get an idea of what they need. I also got to make presentations over Misconceptions of Poverty and Civil Responsibility after Retirement. My last task for community outreach was to help organize a community wide open discussion with community service providers, researchers from the local university, and clients to see what we can do to enact change in this population. Each of these experiences taught me about how to interact with people in an organization. This project helped hone my communication skills in being able to fit my language to my audience. I was too used to an academic audience and was not prepared to communicate with a population that may not have finished high school.
My internship supervisor Mary Twitty was a huge help. Giving me direction while at the same time plenty of space to work and figure things out for myself allowed me to grow from this experience. I was terrified of a project without step by step instruction, and now I know how to take initiative in projects. Mary also constantly looked out for my wellbeing, fussing about my lack of sleep and allowing me days off when school, work, and internship became overwhelming. She is a great teacher and a great lady.
One of my favorite memories from this internship had to be helping out at the festival of trees. Organizations went out to buy Christmas trees and decorate them, then auctioned them off to the wealthy of the area. All proceeds went to the less fortunate, and you could really feel the spirit of giving in the beautifully decorated room. I enjoyed many aspects of this internship, and will remember it and the lessons it taught throughout the rest of my life.