I would like to propose a Kindness Challenge... A Community Engagement Specialist role would allow me to channel my potential into a career that would welcome my innovative appetite and benefit from my resourcefulness. Given my voice and the story I have to tell, I would thrive in your organization.
I am mission driven; devoted to empowering youth through innovative community engagement collaborations.
Community Engagement Specialist would best describe what I would be applying for. For months, I have been typing in key words to help generate the jobs that I thought I might be qualified to apply for. Was I a coordinator or a manager, could I see myself as a director or was I more suitible for the role as an assistant? After typing in youth so often, I began to consider who it was that I was really interested in working with. Being certified to teach middle school, I had another option to consider. My former students were who needed me most. Or was it the other way around, I needed to feel needed by them? Either way my audience had changed. Transitions are necessary and yet I was right in the middle of mine and completely caught off guard.
My intention was never to teach at the middle school level yet, perhaps teaching wasn't what I was meant to do for my entire career? This was hard to consider because this meant not following the same path as my mentors. Unable to remain in my position: I felt like a failure. I blamed my unrelentless anxiety and scattered thoughts for taking everything I had worked for and placing it out of reach. Unable to work, I turned to volunteering.
My understanding of nonprofit organizations grew out of my need to feel a part of something impactful. Through my participation, grew personal connections and an appetite for networking. For me this gave me hope. I grew optimistic for this willingness to interact and work collaboratively as complete strangers empowered me. I began seeking roles I initially would have avoided out of lack of experience or simply out of fear that my lack skills in one area would expose me as unqualified. Non-profits had become my new key word as I embarked on a quest to find a non-profit that was looking for my talent. Still very much unsure of what exactly those were but nevertheless positive that these organizations would lead me to a more philanthropic approach.
Since February, I have been participating in volunteer opportunities, researching nonprofit programs, directing interactive art projects and networking. I was fortunate because I have a supportive family and community members who I am able to turn to. My students and their peers don’t have these strategies or resources to navigate given the uncertainty of their world . Therefore, I researched teaching environments that will allow me to address these learners. I realize that I am asking you to think outside the box. My students and I don’t fit in the boxes we are in. Given the opportunity to grow in a different setting we will create an organic culture of kindness and appreciation .
My former students and their peers', social emotional needs far exceed what the schools can offer for support. They need familiar community members and mentors that they can rely on to help them through their post -pandemic struggles. Not all will get therapy or gain a sense of community, unless we provide a respected resource that has measurable results . Not everyone plays sports or plays an instrument. Art classes are expensive and creatives need an outlet. Please help me reach these learners. Not everyone heals in the same way but, they don’t have to be alone. SEL resources and executive functioning strategies can provide the support these individuals need to feel successful.
My mission is to create opportunities for all community members to access the support they need to insure diversity, equity and inclusion in our community. I have over 20 years of experience working in Foxborough and a Masters +30 , that I have earned while employed here. My passion and dedication to this community has and will continue to drive my efforts. Working remotely, I would continue to work with my contacts in the local schools to provide our youth educational support outside of the school day.
Collaborating with the Town of Foxborough Recreation Department, I would pilot a program at their underutilized property on Mill St.. As a Community Engagement Specialists, I would use this opportunity to develop a number of project based units to address the social emotional needs of our community. Repurposing the site to showcase all that Foxborough has to offer. The former Camp St. Augustine on Mill St. will provide a living model of kindness. A symbol for our youth; a gift to those that have impacted their lives and those whose lives will be enriched because of they chose kindness.
As a very elaborate STEAM opportunity, small groups of various ages will work collaboratively to repurpose these sites. As advocates for change, they will learn about the town government as it pertains to their objectives. Given guidance and awareness of town initiatives and strategic plans, they will research, participate in various fundraising opportunities, apply for grants and present to the necessary parties to secure funding and approval. Our youth will be involved and invested in the history and preservation of our town.
The groundwork for this project has begun. What I am am seeking is an organization who would support me by granting me a job that would given me the financial backing to pursue what I believe will impact future generations in a more organic approach.
We have two underutilized resources right here in Foxborough that we can repurpose to address social emotional needs of our youth. With each location comes a mission, a center for after school enrichment opportunities and a story. Connecting the Recreation Department, the Orpheum and the Boyden Library creates a unified front and a committee of participants who share a common goal. Creating a cultural district requires people of all ages and interests to have their voices heard. These centers provide a common ground with contrasting design. Ideal for providing a variety of realistic experiences for our younger generations. Connected Creatives and Happy Campers.
The "UpTown"location would have more of a city feel. UpTown's design was inspired by Raw ART Works in Lynn, The Blue Bunny Bookstore in Dedham and ConnectED and Inspired located in Bellingham . During the day it would be a teen center /art gallery for children to create and sell their art:Art of Awareness /Color for a Cure as a fundraising opportunity. We would run programs to teach photography and filmmaking, and explore other literary avenues.
Influenced by Local Inspirational Artists Two local artists would have their children's book launch at the center. Fulfilling a cultural district requirement, this would be our community's featured artist(s) represented by two local female role models, both mothers, an art teacher and a police officer, who collaborated on a children's book. Along with their story, we would encourage our youth members to participate in the book's promotional podcasts. Their contributions would be incorporated into our program. Once a historic hat store repurposed into a teen art asylum; engaging readers, authors and those who just need safe place to go.
Historical Relevance, Science Exploration and Meeting the Needs of Different Learners Hidden in our conservation lands, awaits a classic camp that could immerse our youth in nature. While researching a property that would serve as a site for a stewardship opportunity, I came across a documentary. I immediately reach out to the artist. We shared a dream and since then I have been researching this possibility. Inspired by its own history, this location would provide a visitor center for youth to display our recent history and traditions highlighting the Camp St. Augustine partnership with urban communities whose members nostalgically created a documentary in hopes of someday reopening the camp. Their testimonials were what prompted me to reach out to the filmmaker. By design the program would incorporate many of the activities mentioned in the film.
As a member of the Foxborough Cultural Council, we are working to make our town a cultural district. This will bring funding and opportunities that will be strategically designed to incorporate our underrepresented populations. Understanding how diverse our community is will allow us to offer experiences for families to feel connected and valued. An inclusive community doesn’t happen in a cultural night. We need authentic and meaningful engagement from families and relationships with our METCO families to create culture of inclusion and awareness. Our METCO students deserve to feel connected to our community outside of school. As a community, we can create a more inclusive experience. Or at least reciprocate by encouraging their Foxboro peers to visit their own communities. Instead of opening the camp we would repurpose it as an interactive museum/enrichment opportunity.
Through art we empower and give underrepresented individuals a voice. We set the stage for growth. If we model inclusive programs and collaborate with individuals that are different from us we foster peace through example. Midleschoolers are at the age when they are impressionable. Our youth groups will use their words to persuade investors and convince community members to show their support in any way they can. They will help renovate the cabins and landscape so that they are a part of the process . Maybe a contest or a challenge to see if they get the “word award” giving meaning to the memory from the documentary. The upper level of the chapel would serve as a visitors center designed to educate the community about the historical significance of the site. Out of respect for the past, it will serve as inspiration for the future. Project members will discuss what traditions and historical events dating back to the days of the Camp St. Augustine would be shared with visitors. I am hopeful that my perseverance in pursuing the right organization and department to propose my vision would result in a relationship for both parties to evolve with a greater presence and influence than ever before. I believe the right opportunity is here. There are a number of working parts that would be integrated into this challenge however, if we want to reach be inclusive or gain support we must utilize these local community connections. We can learn from other nonprofits and partner with neighboring urban communities to exchange ideas and provide meaningful experiences for our youth.
Advancing organizational strategic direction and vision* Strategic Plan
Building relationships and increasing public awareness
Empowering our youth through art, music and literature
science and community service
Fundraising and mentoring opportunities
Exploring funding and program opportunities to serve more diverse youth
Connecting and collaborating to cultivate a culture that is inclusive
I tried to imagine myself in this leadership position. This was difficult for me, this whole process has been difficult. I never imagined myself working anywhere else. So it is out of fate that I came across this opportunity. Months of trying to determine what skills I could provide and what qualifications I had to apply for such a position. My nonprofit experience has evolved through my volunteering experiences. I have become specialize in networking. This position would create a healthier culture for Foxborough's youth one that can naturally extend it's impact through those who see value in what veteran teachers can offer.
Networking Non-Profits and New Investors As an active creative I have been involved in a number of local fundraising efforts in communities throughout Massachusetts. I have experienced innovative ways to build partnerships and cultivate opportunities to celebrate the history and prepare for the future needs of our youth. As a member of Foxborough Cultural Council , I am invested in making our community culturally inclusive and supportive of the arts. As a council member, I am actively participating in grant opportunities. Opportunities are available if you ask questions and investigate inevitably uncovering possibilities to propose to investors.
What I have learned through this process has made me realize that not only has my audience changed but my investors have, as well. When you work with PTO you have individuals who are invested because they have children who will benefit. This becomes very clear when you are asking for funding or approval from a different demographic. Therefore, I have taken the advice from our town historian and have created programs that will be promoted by the participants themselves. If I am to represent I know from experience that the population that participates and advocates have a greater voice if given encouragement and people who are willing to invest in them.
Never did I anticipate leaving my role to pursue a administrative position. However , I believe my audience has changed. In order to achieve what I truly believe in, I must follow a different path in order to reach the generations of creatives that are at risk of not being heard. Being a leader requires having a variety of diverse experiences, the desire to inspire, the motivation to learn and the ability to collaborate.
Through a Different Lens As a photographer, I focus on the details that evoke emotions. Genuine responses are hard to replicate. My images are evidence of the good we often times overlook. The same appreciation applies when collecting writing from my students. Their voices are unfiltered and honest. Empowered by our willingness to listen these insights are powerful. Celebrate their resilience and teach them to be reflective. I am currently applying for an opportunity for participants in our Girls on the Run program to create a documentary about their participation and the impact it made on them. This program is designed to create an inclusive supportive culture more prepared to address unkind treatment from others. This documentary project will empower the voices of those who are underrepresented and validate their experiences through a different lens.
Post-Pandemic Professional Possibilities We as adults also crave being valued and appreciated for our efforts. When we are challenged physically and mentally we become vulnerable. We need to be empathetic and supportive of our colleagues who are unable to continue to teach in a school setting. Please accommodate these individuals for they deserve to continue to do what they love.
When thinking about youth programs, we should also consider opportunities for teachers to transition into employment opportunities that will allow them to remain as a state employee while applying their expertise in an alternative teaching environment. Education is changing. Many career paths are impacted as a result. If we offer a pathway for veteran teachers and potential teachers who are considering investing in this profession, we can provide a sense of support that the profession lacks . This “repurposing “ model should be applicable to the reality of this evolving profession. Tapping into this growing population of employees will enable professionals to have a healthy alternative. Change is healthy and necessary. Like most people I was adverse to changing my job but it has already proven to be an insightful and inspiring process needed to lead me to you. Please consider investing in a new type of education that empowers all learners at any age.
Teaching Through Non-Fiction Texts Walking around my hometown of Falmouth, I began noticing the plaques and signs with recognition given to the youth that were responsible for its contents. Given the nature of the property and its cultural significance Foxborough can have its own visitor center equipped with youth generated text to educate others. Through my support of the Blue Stem Natives out of Norwell I have access to native plant educators. This relationship would highlight historical relevance mixed with environmental awareness.
Renee's Recreation Resource What I uncovered through a series of connections within the Foxborough Recreation Department was another dreamer; only she wished for a program. Together we felt the need in the students we shared. Removing my personal belongings from my classroom was heart wrenching. I felt displaced and replaced. She proposed a program that would allow me to remain active and relevant. I had taken a stand and now I stood alone. It gave me hope that I would once again feel like I belonged. I no longer want to explain why I had to leave, I just wanted to finish healing. I needed to become a resilient shapeshifter. Bringing Girls on the Run to Foxboro was the first step that I was not taking alone.
Organizational Opportunities and Outreach Options Rejuvenated by nature and inspired by art, I searched through my contacts with a new lens. Focusing on organizing what I was envisioning for others to conceptualize. This meant using visuals and collecting examples; creative connections with complex characters. Networking with dreamers and collaborating with other creatives gave me an optimistic outlook. Please consider investing in this kindness challenge; a secure position that would allow me to channel my potential into a career that would welcome my innovative appetite and benefit from my resourcefulness. Given my voice and the story I have to tell, I would thrive in your organization