Works and Days



St. Pauls Lutheran Church: Ava Kamb, Winter Shadow 2016

It would be impossible for me to define an average day during my externship in Brooklyn, New York this past January, as every day I engaged in activities as diverse as writing liturgy to learning how to handle a cordless drill. I shadowed Ben McKelahan, a Reed alumnus who works as a Lutheran pastor in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, serving both a Spanish-speaking immigrant population and Parables, a young adult artistic congregation. Part of his job involves bridging the two communities (who share the space of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church) in a neighborhood that is undergoing gentrification.

This externship gave me the opportunity to develop my understanding of religion in both an academic and a personal sense. At the start, I found church life foreign and abstract, as I did not grow up religious and my understanding of Lutheranism came from a movie and a couple of texts I read before flying to New York. But throughout the week I was able to learn quickly through lengthy conversations with Ben and through working with the various communities that make up the church in Brooklyn. While studying the bible with Lutheran pastors, shaking maracas at a Parables spiritual dance party, and sharing chocolate de maíz with immigrants from the Dominican Republic as they described their favorite psalms, I began to understand what it means to be part of the Lutheran church community, and each day I was struck by the warmth and energy of everyone with whom I interacted. I was curious to see how God becomes present in people’s day-to-day lives, and I think I saw it best in the relationships individuals shared with one another.

Although my future career plans are still hazy at this point, this shadow opportunity unequivocally made me a better student of religion. I have always loved traveling internationally because it gives me the opportunity to grow, explore, and challenge myself in new situations and cultures, and this trip reminded me that I can have these same experiences in my own backyard (so to speak) if I am willing to step outside of my comfort zone. I want to extend a huge thank-you to Ben for allowing me to shadow him and putting up with my endless questions, to Hannah for offering me a bed in her apartment, and to the other communities I spent time with, who welcomed me into their conversations, homes, and lives however briefly – I am very grateful. 

Saturday Academy: Orion Cohen, Winter Shadow 2016

It is difficult to articulate exactly how I imagined non-profits before my time at Saturday Academy. My mental image resembled the bureaucratic equivalent of a panda, accepting donor funds, holding events, and slowly ambling towards its goal of benefiting the greater good. At Saturday Academy I quickly learned that whatever my conception was, it was utterly and completely incorrect. A non-profit is more like a spider in the center of a vast and intricate web of connections. It interfaces with donors, volunteers, and consumers to harness the latent desire of a community to improve itself and manifest that desire into a powerful force for good. Saturday Academy gives thousands of curious students the opportunity to indulge their interest in science with the help of talented community professionals. On a weekly basis, Saturday Academy accomplishes the incredible logistical feat of organizing hundreds of students and teachers into multiple locations across the city. When I asked Jeri Janowsky, Saturday Academy’s director and one of the most capable people I have ever met, how this was done, she jokingly told me, “complete chaos.” My time at Saturday Academy gave me enormous respect for both the mission and staff of the organization.

Additionally, I gained an understanding of the organization and operation of non-profits through a series of semi-independent projects assigned by the staff. Rather than merely observe the organization, I contributed to it, which was rewarding and educational. My observation of Saturday Academy’s structure taught me the most important lesson of all, the necessity of networking. I discovered that what I had negatively conceived of as schmoozing is in fact of a critical part of individual and organizational success.

It would be difficult to envision a more positive externship experience than the time I spent at Saturday Academy. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work at Saturday Academy and honored that I was chosen as extern. I am also thankful for the hard work of The Center for Life Beyond Reed that facilitated the experience. 

East Bay Center for the Performing Arts: Isabel Lyndon, Winter Shadow 2016

This winter, I spent four days at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond, California. I shadowed Jordan Simmons (Reed ’78), but I also had opportunities to work independently, with other interns, and with various members of the faculty and staff.

The Center, which includes a theater, a dance studio, practice and rehearsal rooms, and office spaces, is housed in a beautiful renovated building. When I arrived, Ruthie, the Deputy Director of Programs, took me around the Center, introducing me to everyone we ran into. She told me what they did at the center, professionally, but she also alerted me to other details, such as: one employee made great cheesecake and another was passionate about sneakers. Everyone had an amazing set of combined skills or passions. Ruthie herself, I learned, had degrees in both social work and jazz piano, and this kind of combination was not unusual among the staff.

Founded in 1968, the Center offers on-site classes, in school and after school programs for students in the Richmond area, ensembles, performances, college and career counseling, and internships. When I visited, the Center was in a “dark week,” or a period with private lessons and rehearsals but no regular classes. Even so, sometimes I would walk downstairs and come upon a student in a piano lesson. One afternoon, the sounds of an alumni band floated up from a first floor rehearsal room to the offices upstairs. Usually, the Center offers lessons in everything from violin to West African Dance, acting to oboe, plus jazz theory, capoeira, Mien/Laotian ceremonial dance, stage combat, ballet, and more.

Saturday Academy: Hadley McCammon, Winter Shadow 2016

In my first email conversation with Dr. Jeri Janowsky, my winter shadow sponsor, she sent me an article explaining how the education gap between high socioeconomic status (SES) children and low SES children grows in the summer time but stays constant during the school year (Beth M. Miller, 2007). The article explained that this phenomenon is largely a due to the fact that high SES students usually have the opportunity to enroll in enriching summer camps, while low SES students do not.

Saturday Academy aims to bridge this gap by offering classes on Saturdays and over the summer to students of all income levels. This January, I had the opportunity to work for Saturday Academy in Portland for two weeks. I was struck by the non-profit's dedication to a single mission: to level the playing field for all students. As a result, I learned the importance of having a strong mission for non-profits. During a staff meeting I attended while at Saturday Academy, Jeri continuously pushed her staff to share any news they had on their projects, but more importantly, to make sure they understood how everything they were doing fit into the overall mission of Saturday Academy.

Over the course of the two weeks I spent working and learning at Saturday Academy, I also learned how non-profits function successfully. The role of the non-profit is to collect, organize, and distribute the resources of the community in order to accomplish a specific goal. In the case of Saturday Academy, bettering the education of the community’s children. Saturday Academy collects grants and the expertise of community members who instruct their classes, organizes them and provides them with guidance, and then distributes them to the community by way of classes.

Public Citizen Litigation: Elaine Andersen, Winter Shadow 2016

On a drizzly morning, the streets were dotted with umbrellas and suit-clad business people desperately holding newspapers above their heads. I realized I wasn’t in Portland anymore. Contra Portland’s laid back, “quirky” vibes, our nation’s capital buzzes with a different energy. The city teems with activity, as the foremost legal and political minds in the country face off daily.

I arrived in DC in early January to spend a week shadowing Paul Levy, a lawyer at Public Citizen. Within the small and highly collaborative litigation group at Public Citizen—a nonprofit whose stated goal is to champion citizen interests before Congress and the Courts—Paul specializes in first amendment, and more specifically internet speech, law, often representing anonymous clients.

I didn’t know what exactly I would be doing prior to my arrival at Citizen. Paul let me know that his caseload is unpredictable and I should come, not prepared for any particular thing, but for anything. Further, I would be working with another intern, Kendra, a 3L at Harvard Law School.

St. Paul's and the Church of the Parables, Reed Winter Externship Program, Meredith Mathis

Meredith Mathis participated in a Reed Winter Externship, contributing to community services and support at St. Paul's and the Church of the Parables with Ben McKelahan.

The activities I did varied a good deal from day to day. One day I went to a clergy bible study and got a tour of a Senior Center at the St. James Matthew Emmanuel Lutheran Church, and went to a Mission Developer’s lunch (where pastors talked about their experiences and difficulties and offered each other support). Another day I met with a pastor and talked about the process of establishing a homeless respite bed program run by the Lutheran Church of the Messiah, met with the non-profit El Puente, and went to a church council meeting. I also got to sit in on meetings about planning future camp activities, walk around the neighborhood St. Paul’s is located in and check in with community members, go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a number of pastors and seminary students, work on an art project for an upcoming three kings celebration/community event, and attend Sunday service, a Three Kings party and parables.

One of the most engaging parts of this experience was discussing the respite bed program being developed (mentioned above). This respite bed program was intended to house homeless community members overnight in the church, but certain community members were against the program, and the church building had to be renovated before the city would let it run.  A lot of what I got out of that experience is that bureaucracy and community disagreement will come up regardless of how good or necessary a program is. But for one, it’s good to realize that if I’m going to do community work of any kind, the city will always have jurisdiction over the physical spaces I’m trying to cultivate into community spaces or convert in times of crisis (this bed program was a response to crises of homeless individuals’ lives being put in danger because of the cold in New York), and there is no forcing a sense of urgency in other people even if their position on an issue is inflicting direct harm onto others. However, the conflicts that were being dealt with didn’t stop efforts to organize and make changes needed to get the program running eventually.

Reed Winter Externship Reflections 14: Number twenty-five, Saturday Academy, Jeremy Cosel

Over my winter break, I went to visit the Saturday Academy administrative office located on the University of Portland's campus, and it was quite fun! I met some outstanding individuals who work not just for a living, but in order to provide quality academic programs for kids all across Portland and the greater Oregon area. That's the benefit of being a non-profit: you do work that is relevant to your interests, but also participating in a group that makes quite a meaningful impact on the community. During my weeklong visit, I helped staff revise internship descriptions provided by several dozen major companies across Portland, a part of Saturday Academy's Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering (ASE) program. Thinking about how to best incorporate a diversity of high school students regardless of their gender or socioeconomic status is something I have never considered, and was a thoughtful challenge for me. With an interest in Technology and Education, I learned about all the hard work that goes into organizing the hundreds of educational opportunities Saturday Academy provides, and was proud to assist with tasks in the background in order to provide a great experience for the families signed up with Saturday Academy this year.

Reed Winter Externship Reflections 14: Number Twenty Two, Saturday Academy, Sam Underwood

I participated in a weeklong externship with Saturday Academy, an educational non-profit established in 1983 and based in Portland. Saturday Academy’s mission is to provide supplemental learning opportunities to kids from second grade through high school. Saturday Academy organizes over five hundred classes a year, all taught by experts from the community. Saturday Academy states that their emphasis is on science, technology, engineering and math—but a quick peek at their website shows a vast array of classes in all fields, from writing to engineering to acting. This was information I knew as I headed to my externship on the first day. What I didn’t know was that the entire organization is run by just a handful of people. Just thirteen, to be exact. Over my week at Saturday Academy I observed an efficient, enthusiastic, and creative team working hard to providing learning opportunities to bright young students.

My first task as an extern involved Saturday Academy’s Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering (ASE) program. The ASE program matches up promising high school students with industry mentors. The students spend the summer in labs or in the field, working with their mentors. In January, the industry mentors had just submitted blurbs describing the work their high school-aged interns will be doing this coming summer. In addition to proof-reading these blurbs, I vetted their wording to make sure subtle gender bias wasn’t implicit in the language chosen by the writers. As it turns out, gender bias in job descriptions is a persisting issue and data indicate this wording-bias contributes to women being underrepresented in STEM fields. Saturday Academy is deeply dedicated to providing opportunity to all children, including those historically underrepresented in STEM.

Jeri Janowsky, Saturday Academy’s director, told me that a goal of Saturday Academy is to frame education as something that doesn’t have to end when the school day ends, but rather, to frame education as a dynamic, continuing experience throughout life. I strongly embrace this perspective, and Saturday Academy is embodying the idea that education can take place even after the last school bell rings. My time at Saturday Academy was encouraging and motivational—seeing an organization with such an important message flourishing gives me (otherwise absent) high hopes for the future of education in the U.S. 

Reed Winter Externship Reflections 14: Number Eighteen, Our House of Portland, Florence Randari

My name is Florence Randari, an international freshman student from Kenya.  I am a prospective Math Economics major planning to join Business School after Reed and start a career in the financial services field. Through the help of my career adviser, Brooke Hunter, I managed to get a winter externship with a non-profit organization called Our House of Portland, to learn more about running and managing of non-profits.

Our House of Portland is a non-profit organization that provides healthcare, housing and other vital services to low income people living with HIV/AIDS. My host was Allen Brady who is the Director of Business services in the organization. Allen took me through a detailed information session on how he manages the finances of the organization, writes a budget and prepares an Annual Financial Statement for the organization among other duties. Being a non-profit, I was interested in knowing how they get the large amounts of money to offer free services to the 14 clients in the Neighbourhood Housing and care program as well as provide food banks, clothing and household items to over 700 people living with HIV/AIDS.

Our House

A Summer with Architecture for Humanity: Sarah's Final Post

At the chapter meeting this month, my summer position with Architecture for Humanity Portland officially came to an end. As the meeting’s featured speaker, I presented my accomplishments as Chapter Development Coordinator over the past 10 weeks. Looking back, it’s unsettling how quickly the summer flew by, and I find myself wondering how I managed to fit so many significant experiences within such a short period of time.

Since my last blog post, I’ve helped AFH Portland grow considerably as an organization. Working closely with Becca, the Director of Membership and Communications, I created a comprehensive Chapter Manual to guide the future operations of our chapter. Hopefully, the Manual will serve as a resource to facilitate the success and sustainability of chapter activities long after the current directors are gone.

Using a draft manual written by AFH New York as my model, I created my own 52 page (and growing) document that contains an overview of chapter organization and roles, a project toolkit, resources for information management and chapter finances, a guide to grants and grant-writing, and a strategic plan for future development. Essentially, the Chapter Manual integrates the various components of my work this summer within one cohesive document. Surprisingly, no other chapter to date has created a complete operational manual, so my work could potentially serve as a resource for AFH chapters nationwide (which is really exciting!).