It is hard to believe that there are less than two weeks left of my ten-week summer internship with LMM. These past few weeks have been filled with so many great experiences and projects that I am so grateful to have been a part of. As I think back to what I envisioned myself doing when I applied for this internship back in January, I can wholeheartedly say that this summer has exceeded all of my expectations.
I have felt such a community at LMM and I feel so welcome here, I could not have asked for a better placement that embodies everything I am passionate about. Working in the Advocacy department has allowed me to experience hands-on non-profit work tackling big issues such as homelessness, reforming the criminal justice system, and ending racism. I have also been able to learn about some of the other departments within LMM and how they all contribute to its mission. This summer has been nothing short of transformative and I could not have asked for a better internship experience.
Early on I was immediately immersed in learning about LMM, and I read lots of articles and newsletters giving me more insight into LMM as an organization. I was fascinated by its history and mission, and this confirmed that I was where I was supposed to be. I also learned about the Advocacy Department and what advocacy in action looks like. Once I had a good grasp on advocacy, I began to learn about the different departments; specifically Workforce Development, Communications, Housing & Shelter, and Health & Wellness Services. All of these departments are full of amazing people and I was fortunate enough to meet some of them and hear their stories.
My advocacy intern duties started quickly as my calendar filled up with webinars, meetings, research proposals, and one-pagers. I also enjoyed working with Community Engagement Coordinator Gloria Craig on a variety of projects, such as the Juneteenth Lunch & Learn presentation, doing a social media takeover week on the topic of civic engagement and voting, and creating a program for the Chopping for Change ladies to learn how to write letters to their legislators. A good portion of my time was also spent out of office attending various volunteer events, such as a food distribution event with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, a cleanup day in the St. Clair-Superior Neighborhood, and every Friday going to the Men’s Shelter at 2100 Lakeside with Gloria to do board games and arts and crafts with some of the men. All of these experiences have meant so much to me and have added a lot of my time here.
Another project that has been a big focus for me has been conducting research on the topic of child support debt and how it can be a major barrier to reentry. As this is a barrier that has not been at the forefront of LMM’s reentry research in comparison to other barriers such as housing and employment, it has been fascinating to learn about it myself and conduct interviews with some of the populations that LMM serves as well as doing academic research to understand the issue from several perspectives. It is clear that this is a big barrier and that there are a lot of layers to it that make this a very complicated system. I am in the process of writing a research paper on this topic that will encapsulate my time here at LMM and serve as a resource for the organization going forward.
I have always been interested in and tried to prioritize service, and this summer has definitely cemented this for me. I am so happy that there are non-profit organizations like LMM that are working against systems that create divisions in our society and are using their resources to target the root causes of issues and create solutions. I will carry what I have learned with me for a long time to come, and will continue to do what I can to promote justice. I am so thankful to everyone at LMM for welcoming me and making this the best first internship I could have asked for!