Category Archives: Courses

The Wrong Side of Heaven

By Trai Gozzi

While there are many thankless jobs an American can undertake, one of the most thankless jobs is serving our country in the world’s finest military. We as Americans often take many things for granted, such as having the freedom to pursue our dreams because our rights and freedom have always been protected by a select few who serve our country.

For the past 15 years, the United States has been at war and we as Americans have asked the men and women to fight to keep our country safe. In recent years, America has forgotten that there has been sustained engagement in warzones such as Afghanistan and we have also forgotten the silent struggles our veterans face, as they leave the military and face the struggle of readjusting to civilian life. This music video raises awareness to the American public that veterans are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress and homelessness.

What I hope this music video does for those who watch it is to realize that men and women are still fighting in wars across the world. We as Americans have the responsibility to take care of the warfighters and their families who sacrifice years of their life for selfless service to our country to ensure our safety and make sure when veterans need help, we help them.

Color Me Purple

By: Anasia Napper

I started writing this once, but I had too many thoughts and too many words, and I did not want to be up here speaking for too long, so I’m going to tell you what I find funny.

Black women have been victims for centuries.

They have been assaulted, raped, murdered, kidnapped, verbally abused, hated, and mocked by people we now have to call enemies.

Some of these problems aren’t problems exclusive to black women,

but no one seems to wanna talk about issues if they don’t affect them.

I read The Color Purple a year ago, and if you haven’t read it, I’ll give you a little synopsis.

Celie is a 14-year-old girl who writes letter to God about her father who rapes and abuses her, but adores her sis.

Then, she writes about her older husband who does the same shit.

I still haven’t told you what’s funny.

This story took place in the 1920s, and here it is almost 100 years later,

And black girls and women are still going through this.

Did you know more than half of black women have been sexually assaulted?

Did you know that black women make up 8% of the overall population,

but 22% of domestic violence homicides in the nation?

Some people will say that “They can always leave.”

The funny thing is, black women make less money than black men and white men and women, leaving them financially dependent on their abusers.

What’s that saying? Something like “Low-income women can’t be choosers?”

“Femicide” is the killing of females by males solely due to their gender.

Husbands and boyfriends are almost always the offenders.

The funny thing is, 93% of these homicides are intra-racial,

Meaning the killers are black men.

As a girl who loves black men, admitting that black men don’t always love us is painful.

Black men get away with too much because black women have to choose between their racial groups and gender groups.

Most of the time, their racial group is chosen.

And that is devotion.

The funny thing is, I can’t entirely blame black men.

They are also victims of oppression.

What may be important in understanding this

is to understand PTSS

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

Black folks have been a little messed up since they took us from home.

During slavery, Willie Lynch said black men were like wild horses—they had to be broken.

So black men went through a brutal process of emasculation.

Today, some of these black men do things because of this mentality,

But let’s get back to reality,

We gotta figure out what we are going to do now

We gotta figure out when we gone do it and how

We can start by addressing our mental health and well-being.

The funny thing is, the saying about “a strong, black woman” is doing more harm than good

Black women don’t seek counseling, but if we got rid of this saying, maybe they would.

Black men don’t want to go either because they are told to man up.

Then, we act surprised when their emotions build up and they erupt.

Violence against women is an issue, but black women are victims whose stories aren’t even written.

They’re hidden.

If anyone asks what I spoke about today, you don’t have to tell them the first thing I said or even the latter.

Just tell them what needs to be said and proven on the daily, #BlackWomenMatter

INTS 331- The Nonprofit Sector

By Natalie Park

For my service learning I worked with The Humane Society of Fairfax County. This nonprofit organization works to promote humane education, prevent all forms of cruelty to animals, and assist the community with all matters pertaining to the welfare of animals. One of the main reasons why I chose to work with this organization is because I am an animal lover and I admire what the Humane Society does for animals that need care. I feel that the existence of this organization is important in our community. HSFC takes in and finds homes for unwanted pets that need care. They also have an Anti-Meals Pet Food Pantry program that offers free dog and cat food/supplies to Fairfax County residents in need. HSFC’s Feral Cat Program helps control the numbers of homeless cats through the TrapNeuterRelease project.

aaaaaaaaThe Humane Society works with local schools, communities, and other organizations to provide humane education and promote the welfare of all animals. This is an important aspect of the nonprofit sector because the local community is able to be aware of what is going on around us. Raising awareness is crucial so that we can get the community to be a part of something bigger.

Volunteers have an important role in helping all the animals that are part of the Humane Society’s care. They depend on the volunteers to enhance the lives of cats, dogs, horses, and small mammals that are waiting for their permanent homes. These animals needs daily care and need social interaction, due to the fact that they are confined to their rooms all day until the day of adoption. The volunteers provide support by spending time socializing with the animals that lack care. HSFC has a paper-free tracking program for tracking service hours so that volunteers are able to go in and out freely. HSFC requires volunteers to complete an online application and to attend an hour long information orientation that trains the helpers prior to beginning the service work.

HSFC cannot work for their mission without the help from the community. The donors and volunteers keep the organization going. Humane Society accepts donations from pet care supplies, gifts, and also monetary donations.

My personal experience at HSFC was beyond what I had expected because I personally did not have any experience with nonprofit. Playing with the cats and kittens were the highlight of my day, seeing these animals excited to see me and play with me brightened my day. Each day, I was excited to go back. It made me realize how much love and care they want. I never realized how many animals are in need of a home in Fairfax County. I would definitely recommend for people to adopt seeking for a pet. Working here made me seek other adoption shelters in the area, this experience sparked a new interest in my life.

My name is Natalie Park and I am currently a Senior at George Mason University. I love animals and believe every animal deserves love and care. I really enjoyed working with Humane Society and want to continue doing so following this course.aaaaaa

INTS 331- The Nonprofit Sector

By Aaab.pnglison O’Connell

I was able to use an organization I already had connections with for my volunteering requirement this semester. I was very excited to continue working on a project I really believe in and that has impacted my life in such a positive way. I volunteered with Rural Dog Rescue, a rescue center for dogs from rural areas that are transported to DC to be adopted. Rural Dog’s motto is “Root for the Underdog!”, and they try to live up to it by devoting the majority of their resources to saving dogs who would otherwise be euthanized: black dogs, hounds, pit bulls (or dogs that resemble them), elderly dogs and sick dogs. They select dogs from high-kill shelters in southern states (including Southern Virginia) and bring them to foster homes in DC until they can find suitable adopters. My previous volunteering experience was as a foster. My work this semester was very different: I did all my volunteering virtually, assisting with various social media initiatives.

It was very interesting to compare and contrast Rural Dog with the structures that exist in larger non-profit organizations. Rural Dog is entirely volunteer run and focused on a small-scale mission, so many of the initiatives that larger non-profits deal with did not apply to them. Our class this semester also gave me a lot of insight into why non-profits are started and how we assess their success and merit. I can definitely see ways for Rural Dog to grow and expand, should they choose to, but I am proud of the work they’re doing right now and think it absolutely has a positive output.

One of the best things about my organization is how many ways there are to volunteer. I am disabled and have struggled with my desire to volunteer and contribute versus my ability and energy level. I was very excited to find there were a number of ways I could help that weren’t on a set schedule. I highly recommend virtual volunteering if your organization offers it: you can fit your contributions to your life and still make a difference in how your organization approaches their mission. In my case, I feel my work directly helps the organization stay visible and recruit potential adopters. Fostering was also a really positive experience for me, and I highly recommend it to any animal-lovers who can’t afford to own a pet themselves. The Rescue provides supplies, food and vet care. Your job is to give of your time and energy- no mean feat- and help a vulnerable dog adjust to their new life. Many people balk at the idea of caring for a dog and then giving it up. I definitely did (and my first foster dog was a foster-failure…meaning I kept her). However, I quickly adjusted to the cyclical nature of fostering: the adjustment period of adding a new animal to your home, the bonding that occurs, the grief of letting them go, and the satisfaction of seeing them thrive in their forever-home. The grief happened every time, but each new dog taught me a very important lesson: they were all special and all deserved to be loved and safe. My momentary pain was totally worth it in the scheme of things. Without fosters, the rescue couldn’t do their work, and all of those wonderful lives would be lost. Rural Dog also needs volunteers for weekend adoption events. Those volunteers attend the events and handle the dogs so they can meet prospective adopters. It’s a very important job and key to helping dogs meet the right people for them. Many of their volunteers for this position are from local universities.

If you’re an animal lover, I highly recommend getting involved with this rescue (or one of the many other excellent ones in the NOVA area)! The rescue is entirely volunteer run, so every contribution, from virtual volunteering to dog wrangling, is an essential part of the process to getting these dogs adopted.

Alison O’Connell is a junior at Mason and helicopter dog-parent. She loves baking and pop-culture.

INTS 331-The Nonprofit Sector

By Natalie Wolf

My name is Natalie Wolf and I am a junior here at George Mason University, graduating in May of 2018. I am a Sociology major with a double minor in Nonprofit Studies and Women and Gender Studies. I hope to work with nonprofits in the DC area bettering my community around me with a focus on social justice. In addition I am studying American Sign Language, and hope to continue my love for the language after college.

For my nonprofit sector class, I choose Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) as my service site. I went to the GMU Service Fair on September 9th and meet two wonderful NVFS representatives, who I now work under. NVFS is a private nonprofit organization that has been running since 1924. NVFS works to create sustainable financial and social independence for families and individuals in Northern Virginia. This organization is the perfect service site for Mason students as NVFS programs help a wide variety of needs. Some programs include, Anti-Hunger, Homelessness, Housing, Child Placement, Health and Mental Health Services, Legal Services, Multicultural Center, Early Childhood Services, and even Workforce Development Services. I worked with the development team, specifically with programs that help families in the holiday season.

The first main project I worked on was Operation Turkey, a program that provides Thanksgiving meals to more than 800 families in Prince William County. I am so grateful that NVFS let me take such a large hand in helping with this drive. On my first day I was the person who contacted all Prince William County schools in their participation for food donations, and every week I would follow up on the processaa. I was able to see all of the development team and my own work come together for such a successful event that fed so many families this Thanksgiving. I also worked with our program Empty Bowls, a national event that educates on local hunger and helps those less fortunate. One of the final projects I worked on with NVFS was Gifting for Families which ensures more than 2,100 children in Northern Virginia receive gifts for the holiday season.

I was fortunate to have an internship with a nonprofit this Fall semester that had such large programs to take on. NFVS is a wonderful place to reach out to for a service site as they work so well with your schedule and making sure what you are working on is something that will benefit your future. As an organization that has been running for almost 90 years, it’s an honor to work with such a successful business that has continually helped improve our own community. The service site is perfect for a nonprofit minor, as it connects to the course lessons. As we discussed things such as managing staff, grants, or marketing, I was able to connect it to my own service site. I cannot imagine a better service site that I would work with, NVFS treated me like an employee and taught me wonderful experience.

Leadership through YoungLife

By Andrew Whipple

The mission statement for YoungLife is “Introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith.” I have been a part of YoungLife since the winter of 2013, when I was first invited to YoungLife “club” by two of my closest friends. To be honest, the only reason I went to club in the first place was because the football season had just ended so I was at home, bored, and really didn’t want to do homework. As soon as I walked in the door, took off my shoes, and headed down the basement stairs, there was loud music and people who were excited to be there. I had never been involved in an organization like YoungLife, so it was kind of strange to me to be in an environment like that. As the night went on we played games and sang songs. Then the most important part of club came up: the “talk.” The talk is the part of the night where the leader is introduced to the club and starts talking about Jesus. He explains that Jesus’ actions thousands of years ago can still relate to us and impact us in different ways. The first club talk I heard was from a passage in the book of Matthew starting in chapter 14. The story starts off with Jesus going up on a hill after He has finished teaching a large group of His followers. While Jesus had set off for the hill His disciples set sail across the sea. While the disciples are in the middle of the sea, the waves begin to get rough and they begin to get scared. Then, they see what they believe to be a ghost. That “ghost” however, is Jesus walking on the water out to them because they are afraid. Then one of the disciples, Peter, said if it is truly you (Jesus) then tell me to come to you and Jesus says, “Come,” and Peter can walk on water, but he then gets scared once he sees the waves and cries out for help and Jesus is right there to save him. The reason I talk about this passage is because the first time I heard it lead to the first step I made to change my life. Just as Peter had taken a risk by getting out of the boat, I was going to take a risk and see what Christianity and YoungLife was all about regardless of what my friends or family would think of me. YoungLife has greatly impacted my life and that is the reason that I chose it to be the site that I volunteer at. YoungLife has given me many genuinely incredible experiences and I want to help in any way to ensure that someone else is able to experience something incredible just as I did.

As I have transitioned from participant to leader, I am now seeing that not everything about YoungLife is perfect, and neither are the people who lead it. Lately, I have become frustrated with some of my teammates, but with the leadership that I have in YoungLife I am able to go to those who are older and wiser and able to get an opinion on what course of action should be taken. I have learned when and how to take up a leadership role because of circumstances that have arisen with my team. For instance, my team was stagnant and not really progressing in meeting kids, going out and taking action, and stepping up and making decisions. So I have decided to take charge in making decisions, without trying to be overbearing. I try to accomplish tasks in a timely fashion rather than waiting on it and fumbling around ideas and nobody making a solid decision. I feel that I have truly embraced a leadership role with the experience I have gained through volunteering with YoungLife.


Nonprofit Fellows Guest Speaker: Alex Moore of DC Central Kitchen

It is always a treat to have Alex Moore of DC Central Kitchen speak to our students.  This week, we talked about the importance of data: gathering it, using it for program decisions and sharing it to communicate your value and challenges to stakeholders.  By data, Alex emphasizes that he means both numbers and personal anecdotes.  Both are critical to creating a full picture of your impact.

To fully appreciate how well Alex does this, you’ll need to check out his recent book, The Food Fighters: DC Central Kitchen’s First Twenty-Five Years on the Front Lines of Hunger and Poverty.   DC Central Kitchen has a commitment to transparency.  Their website and annual reports are strong examples of what this work should look like, artfully combining stories, photos, and data.

One of many compelling examples Alex shared, which he called “getting REAL about program evaluation,” is the varied reaction he received to writing this article.  DC Central Kitchen’s data made it clear that their First Helping program was not creating change. While it provided a lot of services to people who needed them, those services weren’t resulting in changed lives.  So the program was ended (carefully done of course, with clients referred to other nonprofit organizations and employees reassigned).  While there was negative reaction to shutting down a program that provided services, this was an example of why having solid data is critical to communicating what your organization is and isn’t about: DC Central Kitchen is not about hand outs, it is about changing lives.  If a program isn’t creating change, they can’t continue to dedicate resources to it.  Courageous decisions are easier to make when there is solid data to back them.

There are a wealth of resources readily available to guide a person through the process of measuring impact and ensuring that data-collection is baked-in to program implementation.  What Alex was able to address, is the many ways that assessment can become complicated in actual practice.  There are tensions between those who use the numbers: program coordinators, fund raisers, communications directors, foundations.  There are tensions among those who must invest staff time and funding in order to acquire measures. When resources are tight, it is normal to prefer to spend them MAKING an impact rather than measuring impact.  But having this data is critical to doing our work better.  As Alex put so well, “Let’s stop sprinting for a second and think about what track we are on.”