At Thrive DC we offer internship opportunities that vary from social service focused to development focused. Meet Zach, our intern who does both! He's been with us since September, and has a lot to share about his time at Thrive DC
I am a Senior at St. Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois, where I study Criminal Justice. I had two credits left to complete my undergraduate degree, so I decided to fill the credits through an internship program. I found a program called the Washington Internship Institute (WII), which helps you find internships in DC. The internship is paired with two classes and also helps you find housing in DC, so it's a really great program.
Thrive DC was one of three internships that accepted me through WII, and after some thought, I chose Thrive DC. I knew that I have the ability to make an impact at a place like Thrive DC, even if it's just a small impact. I had a professor in college who had written an ordinance for something she wanted change in her local community. It was such a small thing, but it mattered to her, had a positive impact on the community, and brought about change; that's what I want to do and that's why I chose Thrive DC. Even if I'm just sorting through mail, I'm bringing a small, impactful change to the clients at Thrive DC who need that mail. I'm very comfortable with my decision and glad I chose Thrive DC.
I felt very welcomed here from the start. The staff were so warm and immediately brought me in and made me feel like a part of the team. I have a few different roles here, but I have mostly been sorting through the mail. At the moment, there are around 1,200 people who send their mail to Thrive DC, and with the pandemic, we had a large back stock of unsorted mail. For the first few weeks at Thrive DC, I spent the majority of my time going through the mail, but I also helped out wherever I was needed. Whatever I end up doing that day, I always enjoy. There has never been a time at Thrive DC that I have walked out at the end of the day and felt like I wasn't happy with how the day went. I always leave smiling and happy, knowing I made a difference.
I really enjoy talking to Thrive DC clients who are part of the Real Opps job training program. They all have very interesting stories to tell and are always looking to share their stories with others, so it's fun to talk to them. Really any interaction with people has been great. I enjoy talking to staff as well and volunteers and clients outside of Real Opps. Everyone is so friendly and you feel safe and supported here.
I would say take your time; there's no rush. When sorting through mail, mistakes can matter a lot more than you would think, so it's important that you don't rush through any of the tasks you're given. I would also say try to make it interesting and fun. I've never been bored sorting through mail because I've found ways to make it more entertaining. There's never a dull day at Thrive DC, so enjoy it and make the most of it.
Louise is an AVODAH Service Corps member, and has spent the last year at Thrive DC working with clients as a Case Manager and Employment Program Assistant. She has been an amazing addition to Thrive DC, and we already miss her terribly. Below are five moments, in no particular order, that stuck out for Louise during her time here.
Today I went to the National Geographic Museum with a group of clients for the second time. The clients I went with the first time are some of the people with whom I’ve connected the most this year; beyond our conversations about fish bones and dinosaurs we were able to talk just as people. It was the first time I got a chance to see who they were outside of their daily needs.
The trip today gave me a space to reflect on how my relationships and connections at Thrive DC have grown this year. Summing up my experience is an impossible task. Instead, I want to reflect on a few “snapshots.” These are the moments I hope to remember for a long time.
Today I sorted mail. I mean, I usually sort mail at least once a day because we get A LOT of mail. But today I really enjoyed it. Maybe it’s because I’m leaving soon or maybe I’m just feeling particularly reflective...
I like going through the names, thinking about all the people that come to Thrive DC, making a mental note that “oh ______ hasn’t been in here in a while, hope he’s okay” or getting excited about someone’s progress: “her ID finally came! I can’t wait to give it to her tomorrow.”
Sorting mail for me is a visual confirmation of how many people are part of the Thrive DC community - how many people feel comfortable, consistent and safe in this space.
Today I walked to work with a client. As I closed my front door, I looked up and saw him about half a block ahead of me. I caught up with him at the light, stood next to him and just smiled. He did one of those double takes and we started laughing.
We walked and talked for about 4 blocks until I checked my watch, realized that I was running 10 minutes late, gave him a quick goodbye, tripped over a branch, and listened to his laughter as I ran the last block to Thrive DC. I love living in a neighborhood with the people I serve!
Today we had a good vibe in music group. Some days the music just rolls and today was a smooth rollin’ day. Members of the group have really started to gel. We know and accept each others’ strengths and weaknesses.
Today I sat back and listened and watched and laughed and appreciated the moments....
like when one person starts playing a song and everyone knows it and just starts singing along;
when I see the stress and exhaustion from the day leave their faces for a moment;
when they acknowledge shared history and experiences;
when I get to learn about DC through music;
when I witness someone start to slowly heal from a traumatic life event…
when I am welcomed into this community.
I smile just thinking about members of the group sitting together and eating breakfast. These guys who didn’t know each other before now sit together almost every day because of what we're building together.
Today was a goofy day. At one point, I was salsa dancing with my officemate because he wanted to prove he could dance. Later, I decided to try and fit into one of the giant, human-sized boxes that we were going to use for the coat drive. I also got stuck in said box and one of the other case managers had to help me out. There were a lot of laughs today, necessary relief after a hard week.
Today our Real Opportunity Culinary Class graduated. Everyone has been hired on at their externship sites!
On my first day at Thrive DC, I worked with a client to fill out a job application. That was his first day at Thrive DC as well. For three weeks we spent every Tuesday and Thursday together filling out job applications without any results.
When we started recruiting people for the Real Opps program, he was the first to apply. And today I watched him graduate. He came to Thrive DC unemployed and without stable housing. He’s graduating today with both a job and a place to live. I’m speechless.
Today I give thanks to my Thrive community…
Thank you for sharing your stories.
Thank you for giving me a hard time.
Thank you for the jokes.
Thank you for teaching me about DC.
Thank you to our amazing volunteers.
Thank you to the Thrive staff.
… Thank you for welcoming me into this community.