The first couple of weeks in my internship were relatively non-active in terms of activities, planning, or accomplishments. Days were starting to pass and I felt like my time was being wasted and that my talents were not being utilized. The only planning that took place was with another volunteer within the organization. I was starting to become disheartened by the lack of initiative and the fact that I would not be contributing to the organization’s efforts. The work days were short and I found myself at home around 3 or 4 in the afternoon without having accomplished anything.
Ironically, everything changed within a couple of days. I talked to the co-founder of the organization and I was able to obtain a concrete sense of what was being planned for the next few months and the long term. For me, I can work with abstract ideas but there are times that they need to be accompanied by a plan of action. I was then better able to understand the mission and how I would fit into the organization during my short time here.
The next few days I was laboring to plant trees, dig holes, scattering mulch, trimming plants, and the weeks following pull weeds, mowing with an old push mower, sanding and painting benches, and spent time working with my hands. I came home with a sense of purpose and saw the results of my labor on a continual basis. We have since planned several activities to engage the children who live around the park, which will come to fruition on a day where rain is not in the forecast. We are currently developing plans on how to organize the office and the adjacent garage, which may include building the shelving units.
The existence of the latent conflict between the founders revolves around the accompanying side business that is needed for funds yet is causing intermittent tensions between the two. At first, I did not intervene since I was unaccustomed to their relationship and observed whether this was truly a problem or merely a fleeting moment of frustration. I have since seen the detriment and temporary setback that this conflict has caused and have become concerned. Although I am no expert, I have offered my nascent conflict resolution skills to help with this issue. I was subsequently informed that this is not a problem but that he will “get through it.” I may explain what ‘mediation’ looks like if he again hints at the frustration caused by this problem and determine whether or not he is interested in attempting to at least address the issue again in a different form of what he is used to.
In conclusion, this internship has been a tremendous learning experience. At first, I did not completely understand the organization’s goals and what they were striving to achieve yet I have since connected myself with the mission and strongly desire to help this organization thrive. Part of their objective is to build social responsibility while improving the lives that revolve around this particular park. On a consistent basis, I see the founder’s passion and commitment to the community as he interacts with the children and strives to rebuild the community through relationships and projects.
Almost on a daily basis, there are a couple of older individuals who incessantly question the work we do and mention that there is no sense in the tasks that we complete. Even emptying the trash bins around the park are met with skepticism yet this is a task that improves the aesthetics of the park by removing the overflowing trash that litters . While the founder is occasionally exasperated by the lack of concern by the surrounding community, I try and encourage him by expressing that his efforts are worthwhile. The children need a mentor and he is one who is speaking into their lives and may change the opinion and mentality of the future generation. He is needed in their lives as a friend, a father, a mentor, and someone who cares and he embodies all of this. If only he can get past the temporary setbacks that he continually experiences and keeps his eyes on the overall goal, then he will truly make a difference, far beyond what he is already accomplishing.