WORKING IN THE NONPROFIT SPACE
I have been lucky enough to have been impacted by non-profits since before I can remember. Yet, wildly enough, I never gave serious thought about working for one until my Junior year of college after a conversation with one of my mentors. This not only sparked a change in my major(yes, as a Junior in college), but also made me passionate about my school work. Beforehand, I was in nursing school for no other reason than people telling me I would make a great nurse. Yet, my new major of Health Promotion (a mixture of communication, public health, and non-profit management) was a perfect blend of my previous course work and let me still take a full Biology course load.
Fast forward, I found a job that I was really excited about at a non-profit hospital, York Hospital. When I applied for the Drug-Free Communities grant position. This position taught me a lot about myself,grant work, and I gained first hand non-profit experience. Between the funding highs and lows, community outreach, grant writing, and of course managing a state contract (which at the time was on the cutting board quite often). I learned much more than occupation-related things though, I learned the value of a team and community who come together to solve problems, whether that was making recovery resources, hunger security, or tween seat belt safety. I also learned incredibly important tools about managing people thanks to several amazing women. When my supervisor told me she would support me looking for more sustainable jobs, knowing I also wanted to get back into New Hampshire, I luckily heard about the position open at the Partnership for a Drug-Free NH.
While this position was a challenge, I happily accepted after an interesting and week-long interview process, it was also like drinking from a fire hose. My whole world was proving myself and the brand to everyone I met.This role in short, what was I love about working with nonprofits: the work made my heart warm. Of course, given this specific topic, it was grueling and defeating with every overdose that occurred, or family’s story I would hear. Yet, the emails, phone calls, and even facebook messages about how a brochure inspired a mom to talk to their family doctor about early signs of substance misuse, or inspired a teenage girl to understand her mom’s disease or ask for help when she saw her friend struggling. This list goes on, and that’s what is important. At the end of the day, non-profit politics can be, well… a lot. Between funding changes, mergers, communication breakdowns, state contracts, and more; I was always pushed to use my head, but also my heart.
That is the thing… anyone who has worked with a nonprofit could list off so many negatives. But regardless,when we take a step back it is all worth it. Why? The work betters people lives, in many cases even saving them. The amazing people that non-profits serve (and employ) keep the optimism alive in us. The outcomes from the work, that is why. I used to keep a rose-colored notebook in my desk that I like to look back on, I referred to it when I needed to put my rose-colored glasses on. In it are pages upon pages of things that remind me of all the wonderful things that happen in a non-profit.
As I move on to another nonprofit role, after thoughtfully turning down a few for-profit positions. I have had time to thoughtfully realize that the non-profit space is where I belong; so I will be purchasing a larger rose-colored notebook.