Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Last Day :(

Today was my last day at Joint Council. I'm going to take next semester off from interning, but plan on coming back for events and fundraisers Joint Council has and maybe interning here again some day.

It was a really nice day here. Four other interns were here, and Tom and Rebecca took us all out to lunch at a delicious Asian restaurant. Today I worked on gathering news articles on adoption in Ethiopia and working on the membership database. I also added up all the hours I spent working on different projects and tasks here. I mentioned to Rebecca that I have a Spanish final tomorrow, so she gave me a summary report on a foster care study to translate into Spanish! It was a great way for me to study a little bit and still help them out. Tom and Rebecca are always trying to help the interns get involved with things that are relevant or interesting to us.

I learned a lot working at Joint Council. Lets see...
1. How to manage a database (Etapestry)
2. Proficiency in Excel
3. How to edit a website (listservs)
4. How to merge mail
5. What it is like to attend a congressional hearing (!)
6. Communications skills with businesses


Moreover, I learned so much about international adoption. It is a very complicated process that involves many different issues. I never realized the extent of corruption that is present and the many issues within the field. I also learned that the people who dedicate their lives to working in this field are extremely compassionate and dedicated. I am very happy I had the experience of working here and getting to know Tom, Rebecca, and the other interns.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Small tasks for a big cause

This week, I worked a few different things. On Wednesday, I sent letter about membership dues to various organizations who are members of Joint Council. I also helped gather supplies and prepare for another fundraising event that we had at 10 Thousand Villages on Thurday night. It was a pretty successful fundraiser. I also wrote and sent thank you notes for donations that we received.
Today, I added members to our database of people who participated in the event on Thursday. I called a few more stores about donating prizes for our photo contest. I sent out a few more letters about membership dues, and then worked on organizing the membership database. This week went by quickly! Last week will be my last week here... kinda sad :(

Friday, November 20, 2009

working wednesday, fun friday

On Wednesday this week, I continued to call some of the stores we are hoping will donate prizes for our photo contest. I also called two Target stores that agreed to donate $25 gift cards to make arrangements to pick them up. Next, I searched for news articles on adoption in Ethiopia. I saved the articles in word documents and have an ongoing Excel Spreadsheet documenting all the articles that have been posted since September. Then, I continued to work on the member directory "clean-up" in Etapestry.

Today (Friday), Joint Council had another fundraising event. Every Friday in November, the teahouse/restaurant Teaism donates 10% of its sales to Joint Council. So, today, the staff of Joint Council went to the Teaism in Penn Quarter for lunch. Instead of going to the office for just two hours, I did some work at home and met everyone there. Lunch was delicious and a lot of fun. Afterwords, Tom, Rebecca, and I went to see Front Line, a movie about a homeless boy who is adopted by a family and becomes an NFL player. The movie was based off of a true story. The adoptive parents were the recipients of the Angels in Adoption award in 2009. The movie was excellent, and definitely relevant to Joint Council's theme that every child deserves a loving family. It was a really fun day and I really enjoyed spending time with my co-workers.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Work and Play

This Wednesday at Joint Council, I worked on a variety of things. I called stores that we had sent letters to about donating prizes for our photo contest to see if they had received them and faxed certain stores more information. Then, I helped another intern file information and agreement forms for Joint Council's annual conference for 2010. I also helped set up for the fundraising event that we had at the Spanish restaurant, La Tasca. Up to 20% of the revenue for the night went to Joint Council. We had an information table, a raffle for a free massage, and a few staff members were interviewed by Comcast. The waiters and waitresses also told all of their tables about the organization. I got a table with two other interns and one of their boyfriends and we ate delicious tapas! It was a pretty good day and fun to be with the Joint Council staff outside of work.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Busy Day!

Yesterday, I worked on letters we are sending to Target, Subway, and Best Buy for prize participation in the photo contest we are doing. The contest, Yesterday's Hope, Today's Family will raise money for Joint Council's mission to help orphans. I also worked on making events on facebook for upcoming Joint Council fundraisers. At Tapas for a Cause next Wednesday, 20% of food revenue from the restaurant Las Tasca will be donated to Joint Council. On every Friday in November, Teaism will donate 10% of its revenue to Joint Council. Lastly, on December 3, all proceeds from items sold between 7-9 pm at Ten Thousand Villages will go to Joint Council. Click on the links to learn more about the events and please come if you're interested and can help support Joint Council! Fundraisers like these are important- it costs a lot of money to process memberships, work internationally, and hold the meetings and confereneces necessary for Joint Council to address the many issues they are working with.

We also had a staff meeting today, talking about these upcoming events, the tasks we each are doing, and what will be going on in the future.

Alexa, another intern, taught me how to edit Joint Council's website. It was really interesting how the process works. I am learning many techinical skills here that will definitely help me in the future.

Monday, October 19, 2009

taking ACTion!

Last Friday I got to do something different then my usual interning routine. I went to a congressional hearing held in the Russell Senate Building held by the Families for Orphans Coalition. They talked about the Families for Orphans Act and the Foreign Adoption Children Equality (FACE) Act. The Families for Orphans Act addresses the dated, ineffective, and inadequate procedures and programs in the U.S. regarding orphaned children. Under this act, the different agencies that work on behalf of orphans would collaborate, the U.S. would become a better leader and resource for adoption to other countries, and establish a U.S. coordinator to represent the U.S. in adoption issues. The FACE act promotes equal rights for children adopted internationally by eliminating the need for an immigrant visa, grant the child citizenship upon the completion of the adoption, and eliminate the need for a medical exam. It was really exciting to learn about the policy making decisions and what is being done legislatively to address some of the issues I have been hearing about. The members of the coalition were so knowledgeable and articulate, and very friendly when another intern and I introduced ourselves after the meeting. I was really glad I had the opportunity to attend this hearing. More later!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

News on international adoption!

Yesterday, I worked with some interesting news articles on International Adoption. The topics ranged from arrests for illegal adoptions, to a story about a family adopting their 6th child, to adoption parctices in countries such as Korea and Somalia.
It is as if there is a complete world of international adoption, with so many issues, subtopics, and people and groups involved. The great number of people who are involved or interested in International adoption is shown by the membership directory I am still working to organize. We are deleting members who are inactive or have more that one account, and STILL have over 30000 members.
Another thing we did today was a nice treat- lunch up the street at Hard Times Cafe with the other interns! I'm really enjoying getting to know them all more. They are all out of college and keep telling me how jealous they are that I am still an undergraduate. It is definitely a great experience.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Helping the people who are helping the kids!

Today was a very busy day at JCICS. We are doing a lot to get ready for the trip to Ethiopia. I helped put together binders of information that Tom and Rebecca will need there. There are more documents required and legal aspects of their jobs than I expected. When I think about the fact that their work deals with the emotional, physical, and psychological wellbeing of children, it makes sense that there are many requirements and processes involved. I always help write thank you notes for donations to the "Be the Answer" campaign we are doing. Tom told me to start thinking of something in particular that I want to get involved with at Joint Council. I am still trying to decide what I would want to do. Something that involves the issues and people we are working with.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Prep work and Organization Skills

Yesterday, Joint Council was a pretty busy place. Tom and Rebecca are preparing to go to Ethiopia. They had a lot of different documents about Joint Council that they needed printed out and copied before they go next week. So, I got to figure out how much everything costs, upload the documents, and place the order with certain details for the documents. This sounds simple, but it actually took me a long time. As I get more familiar with certain programs and understand the best way to do things, hopefully I'll be able to get things like this done more quickly. I have picked up the etapesty database we use fairly easily. I'm sure my dad would also be proud that I'm using Microsoft Excel everyday, a program he labels "really cool" but I never found the use for before this internship. The day was topped off nicely with cupcakes for everyone, compliments of Rebecca.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

International adoptions

I've interned four days so far at Joint Council, an organization that advocates and educated others about ethical, standardized international adoption. An issue we discussed Wednesday was the practice of putting children up for adoption who already have at least one parent. Although the idea that the child will have a better life and more opportunities if they are taken in by a more affluent family is often used to justify this practice, Joint council upholds the principle that a child's best life is with their biological family. Furthermore, the families who adopt these children are often lied to or not told that these children have at least one parent. Medical information is also lied about, often stating that certain children are healthy when they are not. The sad conclusion I drew from this is that the adoption agencies that are doing this are more focused on profits and productivity than the best interests of the children and of the families.
The video we watched focused on adoptions in Ethiopia. It was so sad to see the birth parents feel as though they had to give up their children. Some mothers talked about the broken promises they received about keeping contact with their children and receiving financial help. The adoptive parents were also heartwrenched by the situation. They often find out after the adoption has been finalized that their child's birth parents are still alive.
The lack of complete transparency and anterior motives of adoption agencies are just two complications of international adoption. I am beginning to learn just how complicated this process really is, and why it is so important that there are organization like Joint Council to promote legal, ethical, and child welfare-focused adoption practices.
After the video, the other interns and I were called into Tom, the president of Joint Council, and Rebecca, the government relations and communications manager, about what we saw. Tom was very angry about these practices and explained why it was so important that people know that this is going on. At the end of our discussion he says, "Its because of people like this that this organization exists."
Its really interesting to hear about and discuss these important issues. Still, a lot of my time is spent organizing the 35000 names of the membership directory. I look for people who have more than one account, or who could share an account with their spouse who has the same email address. This isn't exactly exhilarating, but I'm glad to be helping them become more organized. As long as I have some music on, it isn't too bad of a task.
My favorite part of working here is the people. Rebecca, Tom, and all the other interns made me feel welcome immediately. They are flexible and very pleasant to work with. I'm excited to learn more about their work.
Until next week,