The following post was written by our amazing summer intern, Eric Fedio. Eric was with WCA for 9 weeks this summer through Cornell University’s Blumenthal Internship Program. We wish him all the best as he enters his senior year at Cornell University. Thanks Eric for all of your hard work!
My summer internship working at the Westchester Children’s Association (WCA) was a more rewarding experience than I could have ever expected when I joined the organization in late-May. Undoubtedly, it has been a productive and engaging opportunity for me to hone a variety of professional skills that I can harness in the future. From public speaking and group problem solving to diagnostic research and data analysis, working at WCA has exposed me to a wide variety of disciplines and challenged me to become a more flexible worker. Furthermore, as a lifelong Hudson Valley resident, the internship has rewardingly allowed me to learn more about the communities and people around me, continually reminding me of the importance of being an informed and active citizen. Regardless of my professional and personal pursuits moving forward, working at WCA has taught me to forge relationships with all those I work and interact with as there are always skills and ideas one can draw from others.
Aside from what I was able to gain from working at WCA, what I am most proud of is the autonomy I was given and the wide-variety of projects I was exposed to during my time with the organization. Joining a small staff of less than ten individuals, from my first day onwards, I was treated as a full time staff member and given the opportunity to take the lead on a variety of tasks.
WCA from all Angles
Although I primarily focused on programming initiatives, I had the opportunity to work on notable projects across all facets of the organization. Noteworthy projects I helped with during my summer at WCA included designing and co-facilitating a presentation on the importance of Nonprofit Voter Engagement as well as designing the palm card for and participating in the launch of the READI initiative in New Rochelle. Additionally, I assisted WCA in its data and research efforts by compiling and updating some of the indicators for the 2018 Community Snapshots and furthering WCA’s investigation into youth homelessness in Westchester. I also had the chance to reflect on some of my experiences over the summer and penned reflections on the READI launch as well as WCA’s involvement in the planning committee for screenings and discussion of the film Resilience for the WCA newsletter. Internally, I was able to offer insight into Allison Lake’s transition into her new role as WCA’s Executive Director and drafted job descriptions for current and future potential staff members.
Engaging Stakeholders and the Community
Besides working on some of the larger projects mentioned above, on a more daily basis I was able to participate in a variety of conference calls, meetings, and webinars with key community leaders, government representatives, board members, and other stakeholders. Particularly in an advocacy organization like WCA, as opposed to a direct-service nonprofit, I quickly realized the importance of engaging, educating, and mobilizing other members of the community on the issues most pertinent to WCA’s mission. Developing relationships with other service members, the public, and those with the resources and capabilities to effectively enact change ensures that challenges impacting children are not only actively discussed, but effort is continuously put forth towards addressing those issues. I found these experiences particularly rewarding during my time at WCA as I not only had the opportunity to interact with professionals from a variety of fields, but was also able to see how WCA’s work intersects with and impacts countless other groups on a variety of levels.
The Future of WCA…
It was certainly a unique time to be part of the staff at WCA. My internship just so happened to overlap with the retirement of Cora Greenberg as WCA’s Executive Director after 20+ years serving the Westchester community as the figurehead of the organization and the subsequent transition of longtime Deputy Director, Allison Lake, to the helm of WCA. Although I quickly learned how invaluable the dynamic tandem of Cora and Allison has been to fostering WCA’s mission over the years, and while Cora’s contributions will surely be missed, I have the utmost confidence in Allison’s leadership, abilities of WCA staff, and the direction of the organization as a whole moving forward. As WCA tackles ongoing and new challenges in its second century of service, the Westchester community and beyond should have every reason to believe that WCA will continue to do what it has always done: serve as the voice of children of every background and work continuously to improve the childhoods of generations to come.
I am thankful for the kindness and support of everyone I had the opportunity to meet and work alongside during my time at the Westchester Children’s Association. I am excited to follow WCA and its future endeavors moving forward and look forward to visiting and checking in on the staff in the not so distant future!