Week 9: Growth & Gratitude – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 9: Growth & Gratitude

Hello everyone! I can’t believe it is time for me to write one final blog post for the summer. Week 9 felt lightyears away at the beginning of June, but here we are! I’m writing this on Friday, so a day late, but now I have the showcase last night and my presentation of the community closet to reflect on!

I reread my first blog post and I still agree with my sentiments about community and about myself, except now I am even more grounded in these ideas after spending a summer at NSO. Individuals make up a community and people are the product of that community. Community is not bound by time, geography, wealth/material possessions, skin color, or flawed human-made systems. At the Day of Hope with NSO, unhoused folks from across Detroit came together in Cass Park and recognized each other, shared experiences and conversations, received wraparound services, and learned about new programs and resources in Detroit. They are Detroit’s citizens and a part of Detroit’s community. All in all, our unhoused neighbors are still our neighbors.

At NSO, I came to understand that no organization, employee, or resident is an island- we are part of a greater network and must share to build all of us up. Homelessness, social inequality, and systems of oppression cannot end unless we are willing to give what we have for no personal gain of our own, but to rather enrich those around us.

I remember the night before my first day at NSO. I was laying awake, anxious about the adjustment to a full-time work schedule, working with a new demographic, feeling included in a massive nonprofit, and finding my way with my project and ideas. I feel beyond grateful now to have had something as cool as this internship to worry about so much. As the weeks passed, I felt more and more comfortable as these concerns washed away and I naturally fell into place in the NSO community. It took time, but it was time well spent! I got to know so many people working in this sphere and I connected their stories to my trajectory as a future social worker and community member. I spoke with residents in the Bell Building and helped them find clothing for their needs. I never knew how many “good mornings” and “hellos” I could say during a walk through a building before I came to NSO and was welcomed with so much kindness.

I think a main point of growth for me was understanding that as long as it is done with good intent and you are checking in with those around you every step of the way, all work for a community site is good work. There was never a “minimum” or a “perfect ideal” outcome for the community closet because I got to create it with the resources and time given to me and everyone understood that. Even when my project was put on hold for the Day of Hope planning or other daily administrative tasks, my work was still important because it was serving the needs of the organization. I am now so thankful that I was able to get used to many different tasks, like calling other nonprofits, organizing spreadsheets, and processing donations and inquiries. I got to do a little bit of everything, which is such a gift.

It is my last day at NSO and I will miss the Bell Building and everyone here greatly. I am taking with me so many new connections and ideas that will certainly enrich my future learning as a social work student and worker in the social justice sphere. I am also so grateful to my DCERP cohort for supporting me and creating so many memories together! Thank you for every ice cream run, trip to the Eastern Market on Saturday mornings, beautiful conversations in the courtyard, museum visit, potluck dinner, card game, and walk after the rain. I can’t wait to run into y’all on campus this year!

I’m going to include a few photos of the finished clothing closet and some of my cohort and I after the showcase! We did it!

Thank you for reading 🙂

4 thoughts on “Week 9: Growth & Gratitude”

  1. Maggie, what a thoughtful post — and I love the pictures! It’s been great to hear about and share in your experiences over the past couple of months. I’m glad to read that you’ve taken so much away from your work with NSO (it’s especially interesting to see what you’ve learned from unexpected events and how you see this connecting with parts of your future!). Good luck with all that’s coming your way:)

  2. Hey Maggie, I really appreciate your reflection! It’s wonderful to see the awesome work you did this summer w/ NSO! I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

  3. Hi Maggie! I’m so glad that you seemed to really enjoy every aspect of your DCERP experience and I hope that you get more opportunities like this in the future!

  4. Hi Maggie it is so wonderful reading your reflection and seeing what you have learned and taken from these nine weeks with your fellowship and this program!

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