Fall 2015: Here are a number of links to some of my published work (articles and essays):
- Falling in Love with Craft Beer: A Beginner’s Tale
- Art For All: My First Experience with Opera
- The Rapidian article “ATU, Grand Valley students protest Rapid bus changes”
Summer 2015: One of my main tasks at Exodus Place was creating content for monthly newsletters. Before my internship began, the organization did not have monthly newsletters in place. Occasionally, say once or twice per year, an email or letter would be sent out. Beyond this, donors and community members were not receiving regular updates and communication from Exodus Place. I discussed this with my manager and began designing short newsletters that would continue to foster good relationships with donors and community members on a regular basis.
Click here to read the July newsletter.
I was also responsible for writing monthly testimonials from residents at Exodus Place.
Here’s one of my favorites:
Sometimes our residents are here for years, preferring the stability and support that our program offers them over the uncertainty and lack of support they would have on their own or in other facilities. Other times, we just serve as a pit stop on the way out of jail and into independent housing. This is the case for one of our new residents, Joe.
Joe has a full-time job, is in the process of purchasing a vehicle, and is in great physical shape. He has friends and family he regularly spends time with. He and his brother have tickets to a MMA fight on Saturday. Today is his day off of work, and he used his morning to visit a consignment store that had advertised a need for volunteers to assist in unloading trucks two days a week.
Why is Joe at Exodus Place? He prefers to stay in a program like this while he’s transitioning to his own housing than attempt to locate and get along with roommates. Joe considers himself (and if you met him, you couldn’t help but agree) a responsible, determined person and is staying at Exodus Place temporarily so he can solidify his long-term goals. We are glad to have Joe remind our other residents that it is possible to live prosperously after prison. It just takes hard work, patience, and faith.
I also wrote for A Father’s Walk, a single father’s ministry also based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I worked one-on-one with the founder to establish a flexible budget and have written around seven grants that will be submitted in early August. This type of writing is very professional and clean-cut. There is little personality in a grant. Instead, this writing focuses on presenting the facts in a clear, succinct manner. Here is an excerpt of the research portion of the grants:
Our society has grown into a place where brokenness seeps into 33% of households living without a father (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). This affects children’s ability to succeed in school, self-esteem, drugs, substance use and other addictions, teen pregnancy and sexual promiscuity, and leads to dropping out of school, not going on to college or technical school, and having children outside of wedlock.
The 2012 U.S. Census Bureau states that “Among children who were part of the ‘post-war generation,’ 87.7% grew up with two biological parents who were married to each other. Today only 68.1% will spend their entire childhood in an intact family.” The number of children living without fathers has tripled since 1960, from 8% to more than 24% (Pew Social Trends). Refer to Appendix A for a chart of this fatherlessness trend. The mean income in Grand Rapids, MI, where AFW is based, is $20,214 (Census.gov). There is a vast need for dads to re-enter their families and to become involved in their children’s lives.
Sexual activity and teen pregnancy is one of the main results of allowing a young girl to grow up without her biological father. A study was conducted in 2005 using a sample of 1409 rural southern adolescents (851 females and 558 males) ages 11 to 18 years old. This study identified “the correlation between father absence and self-reported sexual activity.” The results showed that teens living in father-absent homes were “more likely to report being sexually active compared to adolescents living with their fathers” (Hendricks, C.S., Cesario, S.K., Murdaugh, C., Gibbons, M.E., Servonsky, E.J., Bobadilla, R.V., Hendricks, D.L., Spencer-Morgan, B., & Tavakoli, A.).
Grand Rapids Public Schools has frequently been cited as having a graduation rate well below the national average, which is 59%. “According to the state, 49.56 percent of GRPS high school seniors in the class of 2014 graduated within four years, which includes all 13 programs – traditional, alternative and special education programs. The dropout rate is 26.9 percent” (Grand Rapids Schools identifies barriers…, 2015). Many other students take additional years to finish their GED’s and then struggle to attend college. Although Grand Rapids Community College has a special program for sub-performing students, the problem would be best avoided altogether by raising graduation rates. One way in which this can happen is through involving fathers in children’s education process from elementary until high school. If a father spends two hours every week doing homework with his children, they are more likely to stay in school and receive A’s, as high as a 16% increase (National Household Education Survey, Father’s Involvement in their Children’s Schools). Fatherhood.gov reports that “when dads are involved in the lives of their children, the children’s overall performances increase academically, socially, cognitively, and emotionally.”
“In short, fatherlessness is associated with almost every societal ill facing our country’s children” (Fathers.com). The article Family Structure and Children’s Living Arrangements (2012) reports that 57.6% of black children, 31.2% of Hispanic children, and 20.7% of white children live apart from their biological fathers. In Grand Rapids, 16.4% of households reported that a female as head of the house with no husband present (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
I also began freelancing this summer, emailing article pitches to publishers, magazines, and companies. Out of the half dozen articles published, here are my two favorites:
Grand Valley has a special partnership with Opera Grand Rapids which allows students to attend dress rehearsals for free. Read my story here.
I turned 21 a few months ago and have fallen in love with the craft beer scene. Read all about my adventures on Paste.
The final writing sample I want to include is from my work at the Grand Rapids City Office of Energy and Sustainability. I have only worked in this office for less than two months, so I am fairly new and am still learning how to go about projects. I am currently working on a report about climate change. I also completed drafts of articles that will be included in the office’s annual report for next year. Here is one:
The City of Grand Rapids’ Technical Services Building earned LEED certification during 2015. The building underwent a retrofit that upgraded many of its systems to become both energy- and cost-efficient. The building holds the offices of engineers and technicians who work for the City’s wastewater treatment facilities.
What exactly is LEED? It’s a certification program that educates, guides, and designates companies, nonprofits, houses, and other buildings with green and eco-friendly choices. Badri Patel, writing on LEED’s website, said, “LEED gives us sole satisfaction of returning something to the Mother Nature and a sense of proactively caring for the society we live in.” The whole idea behind LEED is that we need to become more conscious about the materials and resources we use when constructing or refurbishing our buildings. LEED processes also save water and allow the people who use the spaces to be more comfortable and healthier in their daily activities. The Green Business Certification ensures that LEED objectives were used throughout construction, and then awards successful buildings with the corresponding title.
The Technical Services Building earned 45 points, although only 40 were needed to designate it as LEED-certified.