By Kate Beja
Throughout the month of July, I interned with Interfaith Community Partners. After studying abroad in Florence, Italy for the month of June, I was looking for a short-term internship that would give me insight on what the day-to-day operations of a nonprofit organization looks like. Being a rising junior at the University of Kansas double majoring in Marketing and Business Administration, I have always been drawn to nonprofits. When at home, I volunteer at the Hinsdale Humane Society. On the other hand, while at college, I utilize my spare time volunteering for the Lawrence Humane Society. My month-long internship has left me with valuable experiences and relationships that emphasize how much effort is needed to keep a nonprofit afloat.
Within the first few days of my internship, Executive Director Janet Garreau brought me to the La Grange Business Association monthly meeting in addition to a meeting with the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce. These events are crucial to nonprofits as they allow the organization to spread the word of their services as well as make personal connections. These connections are vital during fundraising events and for the development of future programs. Interfaith Community Partners holds an annual fall benefit where they solicit donations from outside companies, organizations, and individuals. After the Business Association meeting, Janet personally went to local companies that supported ICP’s benefit in the past asking for consideration in donating this year as well.
A major project I was working on throughout my time at ICP was the game table event. ICP worked with Myslicki Real Estate to sponsor a Fun in La Grange Game Table as part of the summer art project. On July 22, Interfaith Community Partners had a root beer float and checkers event in front of Myslicki Real Estate. This public event brought together board members and volunteers alike. This was a great way to show appreciation to everyone that supports ICP as well as spread community awareness through social media posts. The other intern, Melrose, and I served root beer floats and chatted with each attendee about their connection to ICP. These smaller events are great ways to partner with other organizations as well as reinforce our image in the public eye.
My favorite part of this summer internship was creating testimonial boards. This included contacting clients and volunteers to conduct interviews about their experiences with ICP. Additionally, I was able to physically meet with clients in person to conduct a more personal interview. Hearing the appreciation that these individuals have for Interfaith was inspiring. The clients often see ICP as a second family that are there for them whenever they may need a ride. The interviews I carried out with volunteers were also very impactful. Whether they have been with ICP for several years or just a few months, all of the volunteers show the same gratitude toward the services they assist in providing.
Overall, this month-long internship was beyond informative. From forming meaningful relationships with the ICP staff to understanding the ins and outs of a nonprofit, I can officially say my first internship was enriching. Working with such an accomplished and respected organization was an experience like no other. I received the knowledge I desired at the start of my internship and then some. Interfaith Community Partners created an environment that prioritized my experience within a nonprofit and allowed me to appreciate their hard work for the surrounding community’s older generation.