When a foundation utilizes a metaphor about cookie jars and sharing cookies to illustrate its viewpoint on philanthropy, collaboration, and connection within a community, you know you are in for an opportunity to learn like no other. The Patterson Foundation (TPF) possesses an atmosphere that immediately pulls you in with enthusiasm and guidance like nothing I have experienced. During my first few weeks as a Fellow, I attended a Thrive and Dine event with the Digital Access for All initiative's Digital Navigators, participated at a Pop-up Neighbor Through Laundry event, heard a community conversation in Arcadia, and met with countless individuals in the Suncoast that believe in TPFs unique approach to philanthropy. Reflecting on these new experiences and the journey that landed me here has shown me that TPF is the place for me.

I began my Master of Arts in Philanthropic Studies degree at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in the fall of 2021, and almost immediately, I became aware of TPF and its partnership with the school. While I was formally introduced to TPF at my first-year orientation through a presentation by launched TPF Fellow Hannah Saeger Karnei regarding the Fellows Program, I had already begun to connect through the Nonprofit Internship Program. I applied for the program because I was intrigued by the opportunity to gain paid experience at an organization in Sarasota while working remotely as a student in Indianapolis. This semester-long experience allowed me a glimpse into how TPF approaches work in the community and provided such a beneficial experience that a year later, I applied for another internship.

At this point in my degree, I reflected on what I wanted to do going forward. I realized that what I needed was the opportunity to engage with as many diverse projects as possible to gain experience and figure out what type of work and organization best suited me. With this in mind, I applied for TPF's Fellows Program and the Study Away elective course offered through the Advancing Philanthropic Leadership initiative at Indiana University. My coursework and preparation for my week in Sarasota provided insight into the many different TPF initiatives and showed me a glimpse of what my future could hold.

By the time Study Away occurred, I had already accepted the Fellows position, but my experiences during that week truly cemented my decision and told me that I had made the correct choice. Now, as a Fellow living in Sarasota and having weeks of experiences, I am still certain that this is the place for me. The multiplicity of opportunities to engage, communicate, connect, create, and learn that have already been introduced have shown me how I will be strengthened and challenged throughout this experience. While I am still getting a hang of all of the TPFisms, I know this will be a year of growth, and I am ready to embrace all that it holds.

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.