Member Position, Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal

What was your motivation for becoming a Serve Louisiana member?

A number of the partner organizations were doing interesting work. I had no doubt that I could find fulfilling, worthwhile service. I also found Serve Louisiana’s professional and leadership development opportunities exciting.

In working with my partner, the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal, I hoped to gain connections and relationships in New Orleans, as well as the skills and experience to do the kind of community organizing work that I wanted to do long-term. This panned out great — and I found the experience so rewarding that I ended up serving two terms!

Tell us about your experience — the good times and the challenges.

As with any position, there were highs and lows. I was definitely able to do meaningful work, but for me, it was an adjustment to work with supervisors who were so deeply and intensely committed to their causes. In that sense, it was trial by fire, but the organizations offered ample opportunities for professional development, and I think the amount of responsibility was appropriate for the level of expectation.

What did you gain from being a member?

My first service year was so foundational in my understanding of this city. Many relationships I made there I still hold dear today. I feel so grateful, both to Serve Louisiana and the two nonprofits I served, for the training and connections that helped me start to figure out who I was in this post-Katrina city, and to understand the dynamics of injustice and structural racism affecting so many levels of this city and state’s life.

Through first-hand experience with two very different nonprofits, as well as by learning from so many peers working with other nonprofits, I got a clear picture of how nonprofits work and don’t work, and succeed or fail in living up to their missions. I understand how important relationships, communication and leadership are, and how organizations can structure themselves to be more genuine and effective. I definitely learned a lot about how to relate to people.