My 8-week, Lilly-funded internship has been spent at the Montgomery County Youth Service Bureau. My time in Crawfordsville has been worthwhile and valuable from working on several projects that benefit the Montgomery County community through the Bureau.
My main project during the first few weeks of my internship involved making alterations to a current charity run by the Bureau. Using the information collected from Robert Lupton’s book, Toxic Charity, members of the Bureau and I critically examined the weaknesses and detrimental effects that contemporary charities often (unintentionally) have on those living in poverty. We located a program sponsored by the Bureau that is likely to exhibit these negative traits and began researching innovative techniques to change the current operations and characteristics of the charity. Another intern and I then worked on collecting data from other similar charities and converting the information into potential changes that can be altered to meet the needs of Montgomery County. The main idea behind the changes to the charity is to stop eventually creating participant entitlement and dependency on charitable services through one-way giving. Edits made to the charity are projected to help stimulate self-sufficiency among participants of the charity and create a healthier path out of poverty for those in need. Research and progression of the project continue but with the recent Program Committee’s approval of proposed ideas, some changes to the charity will begin as early as this upcoming year!
I chose the title of this article as “mutual empowerment” because it is the same theme of my internship. Empowering others, while benefitting myself, is promised to reward both parties later in life. Not only am I learning skills that will help me become a versatile individual, but I am also attempting to help better the Montgomery County community through work with the Youth Service Bureau.
One helpful aspect of working with social services is that other people in the field are always willing to share beneficial information. Since most of the organizations have the same goal of helping others, the competition involved in other business fields is essentially eliminated. When doing fieldwork and gathering information from other youth service agencies around the state and nation, I was pleasantly surprised to find every person I communicated with to be passionately helpful and sincerely hopeful in the success of the project I was working on with the Bureau.
An added bonus of working at the Bureau has been the versatility and different roles of my internship. Besides my initial project, I have also helped compose grants and have worked with other programs sponsored by the Bureau. Being interested in a law-related career after graduation, I have become very intrigued by the Bureau sponsored CASA program (Court Appointed Special Advocates). I have started training in the program and after appointment from the Montgomery County Court, I can participate as a CASA volunteer in cases during my senior year at Wabash College. This opportunity would help introduce to me an aspect of law while furthering my recent interest in social work.
The Youth Service Bureau’s mission statement is “to help young people become productive citizens.” I believe that my work here has truly helped advance the mission of the Bureau. By helping transition a program from entitlement to empowerment, I am impacting people’s ability to be self-sufficient. This mirrors Wabash’s goal for their students, and my personal goals, “to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely.” As a rising senior, the combination of these two missions has helped mold me into an individual who attempts to act thoughtfully to impact the future.
Lastly, I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment and Wabash College for my unique summer experience. Also, I would like to thank Karen Branch, the Executive Director at the Montgomery County Youth Service Bureau, and her wonderful staff for their support and education. Working for the Youth Service Bureau has strengthened my Liberal Arts education as a Wabash man, increased my overall potential entering my next stage in life, and has broadened my knowledge and appreciation of Montgomery County and the Wabash community.