Tag Archives: Ally Snapshots blog

The “Partner” in Partner Organization

12 Jul

Public Allies Los Angeles (PALA) Class of 2012 graduates on Friday. During our Presentations of Learning two weeks ago, we shared our struggles, successes, and learning (they were emotional and eye-opening, and inspired my final post at the PALA blog).  I can say with complete conviction that the coaching I received from Vanessa Vela Lovelace, the emphasis on critical self-reflection, and the training I received from the entire PALA team have helped me become a more effective leader and community member, and I will carry these lessons with me into the next steps of my journey.

What I will also carry is the close relationship that I had with my Partner Organization Supervisor, Victor Constantino, Senior Case Manager in the Seniors Program at SRO Housing. As I reflected upon the last 10 months, I realized that Victor was the figure I worked with most (other than my dear fellow Ally Shameka Dixon), and he has had a huge influence on my experience as a Public Ally. I dedicate this last post at Ally Snapshots to him.

I am so thankful to have had Victor as my PO Supervisor; he provided guidance, encouragement, and a wealth of knowledge and experience. He shared his time freely, which was crucial during the first months of learning to be a case manager. From the very beginning, Victor showed that he was not only committed to the work that we could accomplish as case managers, but also to our development as leaders and as Public Allies. Ultimately, his guidance resulted in Shameka and I both exceeding our output targets at SRO Housing.

Despite facing increased responsibilities and limited time, Victor was willing to share some thoughts about being a PO Supervisor:

My experience working with the Public Allies has been a positive one. As a PO Supervisor it is my professional responsibility to give back; I once sat on the other side of the table. I remember attending CSU Northridge and working my first internship. As nervous as I was, the professors made me feel comfortable and assisted me through the entire process. At the end of my internship I acquired the teaching fundamentals that would help me through this endeavor.
My role as PO Supervisor is to provide a lot of support and direction. Subsequently, the Allies become self-sufficient in fulfilling their responsibilities as case managers. They have been my support as well. They have been my left and right hand. I am fortunate to have had a diligent team pass through the Seniors Program. A lot of the seniors still remember and frequently ask about the Allies. Past Allies have continued in the realm of human services and continue to make a difference elsewhere. I am very proud of them. I have enjoyed being part of their learning process, growth, and an opportunity for a life-changing career.

Thank you to Victor, the Public Allies Los Angeles team, my fellow Allies, and to Public Allies National for allowing me the opportunity to share my experiences here.

And, in case you were wondering, Mr. W‘s tomatoes are doing great!


I, Too, Sing America

3 Jul

As a member of Public Allies, reflecting on the meaning of service is a daily occurrence. Public Allies pushes service beyond band-aid approaches into the realm of inquiry that seeks to address the root causes of different social issues. As Allies, we also leave the experience different than what we were before. For me, service is more than giving to others, it is also how I expand my identity as an American and a global citizen. Each service opportunity opens a gateway for me and for those who am I serving with, to expand notions of responsibility and community.

In high school and college, service was how I came to identify as an American. Volunteering with various agencies afforded me the chance to interact with communities in a way that left indelible marks on my identity. Through service, I began to understand the interconnectedness of people across this country, and that I had a responsibility that went beyond my own needs.

A reading of the poem I, Too, Sing America by Langston Hughes, at a gathering at Eagle Rock School reminded me of these memories that form my current identity. As an African-American growing up in this country, many times I felt displaced. Service served as my bridge to connect me with others with similar struggles and hopes.

Below, you will find the full poem.

I, Too, Sing America.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.”

Langston Hughes, “I, Too” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes. Reprinted with the permission of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated.

What does your leadership look like?

18 Jun

Last month, Public Allies National started the Everyone Doodles contest on Facebook, asking for doodles that answer the question “How do YOU lead?”

Since I don’t use Facebook, I can’t enter the contest, but this reminded me of a question we were asked during the PA Los Angeles Mid-Year Retreat: “What do you want your leadership to look like?” We drew our answer onto our paperbag “mailboxes” which we use to leave one another messages through the retreat.

Outside of my Public Allies work at SRO Housing, personal writing, our Team Service Project at Southern California Library, volunteering for Community Services Unlimited, Inc., and gardening, rock climbing is my other pre-occupation. So of course I thought of mountains when I considered my drawing:

Why a mountain? Well, I thought about what I’ve learned through coaching and training: that our leadership is about our communities; how we must always be grounded in how we can impact others and change things for the better. In climbing, as in leading, we face our fears, explore our limitations, and hold on tight. And through doing that, we discover how high we can actually go. In terms of community work, it’s not until we fully explore our resources and assets, both in ourselves and in one another, that we see how great our community can be.

The little green and red/orange blobs along the mountain are flowers– because it’s not just about getting higher and higher, it’s also the journey upward itself. I’ve been surprised and delighted while climbing on what looks like nothing but rock, only to find a little bush or flower or succulent in a nook along my path. I want my leadership to have that kind of magic and positivity, too.

And finally, I think we also don’t realize what how grand our communities are. That they’re mountains of caring, determination, and perseverance. I want my leadership to remind people of that, too, because that’s what I see.

More art from the Queens Teens at QMA

15 Jun

More art from the Queens Teens at QMA: A detail from the banner from their culminating exhibition Objects With a Story.

We had our last session with the teens a few weeks ago and as they go on to senior year or even college, it really made me reflect on how lucky we were to work with such a creative bunch of young people! I always made comments on how well-adjusted, mature, and responsible I wish I was at their age.

I know they work well off of each-other’s creativity, and while I don’t think that working with art alone is the reason these kids are so darn great, I do think that art was a medium for some talented people to get together. Yeah art!

Contemplating collaboration

12 Jun

On Wednesday, May 30th, the second year allies had the opportunity to facilitate training for the first year allies at Public Allies Maryland. The training discussed leadership, how we define it, what it means to be a “good” or “bad” leader and an “effective” or “ineffective” leader. We also gave them an assessment to discover their own leadership styles after discussing different academic theories about leadership.

However, one of the most moving parts of the training was when my fellow second year ally Shawnice presented the idea of virtue cards. She handed out a card to everyone as a way for us to reflect on our own leadership styles and characteristics; each card featured beautiful pictures of nature as well as a word. The idea behind this is that within every person there is a core set of virtues or values that represent the content of our character. I think the ideas behind the virtue cards really resonates with us as Public Allies because of the five core values that provide the foundation for the work that we do. The word I happened to get, just by chance, was cooperation.

Below you can see a picture of the “cooperation” card front and back.

Reading this card I kept thinking about one of the five core values in Public Allies: collaboration. It’s hard to tell if there’s even a difference between cooperation and collaboration. However, one important difference is that collaboration is done on purpose and is done across boundaries. Collaboration is really a special type of cooperating where you go one step further to include voices that are missing from the discussion and create partnerships in unlikely places. It’s more than just working together to meet a common goal, it’s building a strong team that focuses on the diverse assets each team member brings to the table, empowering others to lead, and working together to achieve something you couldn’t have done alone.

What does “collaboration” mean to you? Share it in the comments below!

Why you should join Public Allies

8 Jun

This is one in a series of Ally Snapshot blog posts on the theme, “Why Public Allies?” If you are thinking of service work, please read on. If you know someone who might be interested, please share!

You’ve heard about Public Allies, you’ve read the blog, checked out the website, googled around… and you’ve ended up here. I’m glad that you did because after being part of Public Allies Maryland for the past two years I will tell you exactly why you should join this truly wonderful and life changing program.

Before I answer your question “Why should I join Public Allies?” I want you to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I want to make a difference in my community?
  2. Do I see a need in my community and want to help even though I may not be sure exactly how to do it?
  3. Am I interested in learning more about the nonprofit sector and how I can build a career while making a difference?

If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you’re ready for service work. Why should you pick Public Allies over any other AmeriCorps or service program? What makes it so great? What sets Public Allies apart? Why should you join Public Allies?

The 5 Reasons You Should Join Public Allies

  1. Public Allies believes in you. At Public Allies they believe that everyone can lead and that leadership is an action you take, not a position you hold. This is the number one reason I joined Public Allies. I always knew I had the power to make a difference in my community and the world, but I wasn’t sure how I could do that and there weren’t many people out there who thought a receptionist at a veterinary hospital really had that much to offer. Public Allies knows that everyone has the potential and assets to make a difference.
  2. Leadership coaching and professional development trainings. Experts from the nonprofit sector and the community will be there every week to teach and answer your questions to help you develop the skills you already have and make you the next great leader you always knew you had the potential to be! It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to come together each week and learn as a community.
  3. Support. From your program managers, to your teammates on your team service projects, to your partner supervisors, and even the directors, you will be supported. They’ll be there to give feedback, they’ll be there when you’ve had an awesome day or the worst day, they’ll be there volunteering at your events, and cheering you on every step of the way! At Public Allies you really are family.
  4. True and intentional diversity. At Public Allies diversity is not just an ideal. Public Allies purposefully recruits diverse young leaders and works to promote and support leaders from all different walks of life. Diversity can mean so many things from racial, ethnic, class, background, perspective, experience, sexual identity, sexual orientation, gender, to educational and Public Allies intentionally works to include them all. On average, Allies are 67% people of color, 60% women, 50% college graduates (including some with graduate degrees), and 15% LGBT. Diversity is one of the reasons why I decided to join Public Allies because they don’t just talk about diversity or say we need diverse leaders; Public Allies actively does diversity and develops diverse leaders.To quote Susan Edwards from Everyone Leads by Public Allies’ CEO Paul Schmitz: Diversity is an action, not an ideal.
  5. More than 3,000 alumni (and counting!) across the nation working in almost every sector are waiting for you to complete the program and use them as resources to keep developing as a leader and a professional. The end of my second year is fast approaching and the closer it gets the more important our strong alumni network becomes. Check out the Public Allies Alumni page on LinkedIn to get an idea of what alumni are doing now!

These 5 reasons are just the beginning of the many, many reasons why Public Allies is an amazing program to take part in. I hope you’ll join us at the site closest to you and discover all the benefits Public Allies has to offer for yourself.

Calling all Allies & Alumni: What is the number one reason you joined Public Allies? Let us know in the comments!

You see a playground, PS 144 sees a giant chalkboard!

7 Jun

We visited PS 144 in Queens for some really fun art projects on the New York watershed – including a huge chalk mural on their playground. They illustrated different steps in the water cycle and it came together as a cohesive and colorful drawing.