by Gabriell Smith
I had the nervous feelings that everyone has had on their first day of work. The non-profit world wasn’t new to me, but this non-profit was new. Literacy KC welcomed me with open arms, of course. Between my coworkers, the students, and even my office (though it’s very cold)—Literacy KC made settling in a breeze.
I was thrown right into the hustle and bustle of things and joined in on helping with new student orientation. Right then and there is when it hit me, how many people really needed our services and how different these people were. Often when people think of adult literacy they image a one-on-one session with a student, a tutor, and a book. Ironically, this is what Literacy KC was for quite some time. Now, though, Literacy KC has grown and expanded in ways that can only benefit the community by serving students of all different circumstances. Students don’t come in simply because they can’t read, in fact, many of them can. Some students are looking to improve on skills whether it be to prepare for something in the future, like getting their high school diploma or regaining something that they lost.
I often work behind the scenes with Literacy KC. I’m able to see not only the students as they walk in the front door, but their progress, their accomplishments, and even some of their stories. I am able to see what it really takes for them to get to class—whether it be figuring out child care or transportation. It took some time to grasp my position and see how on my involvement can really support the organization. I can definitely say that seeing the change Literacy KC provides helped a lot. In the short time that I’ve been here I’ve seen the joy on students’ faces when they accomplish something they never could, and frustration from students who work constantly but don’t realize their growth because it seems small. Either way, I’ve seen the patience it takes for both the students and staff and the drive it takes to get every student what they deserve—literacy for all. Working with students and seeing the obstacles they face and overcome is an inspiring aspect of work you don’t get in every office. With Literacy KC, I not only feel like what I’m doing is making a difference but I’m also able to see it.
Working at a non-profit is definitely not an easy task—mainly because the job never stops. Though we may come in, clock in at nine and clock out at five, there are always people who need our services. The world doesn’t stop at 5 p.m and one of the many challenges of nonprofit is proofing the mission. Literacy KC is able to show that their mission is fulfilling its purpose.
Gabriell is Literacy KC’s Ticket to Read Program Coordinator and contributes to the Literacy KC blog. In addition, Gabriell writes for her own blog, “Informed”. Gabriell has written for her alma mater’s university newspaper and writes about pop culture and social commentary. You can find her work at Gabriellrsmith.wixsite.com/