Looking back is a funny thing.

I reflect on what seems like past lives – when I was a young child, or in undergrad, or when I spent time abroad, and what I learned during those times.

During those times and many others, I absorbed valuable lessons about humanity and giving back. And while I have internalized those lessons, I didn't fully realize the impact I could have when I strengthen my "muscles" by engaging in work while also effectively collaborating with people who care.

I've grown so much during the first seven months of my fellowship at The Patterson Foundation. I knew I would evolve, both professionally and personally, but I didn't anticipate how much.

I reread my first two blog posts—one where I discussed why I took this opportunity and one when I reflected on The Five C's: caring, connecting, contributing, collaborating, creating.

In the 5 C's blog post, I asked if philanthropy could be better if we cared for and worked with others in equitable ways, created impact by connecting and engaging with organizations across sectors, and considered the role we play when contributing to society.

The short answer? Yes.

The long answer? I've worked on many initiatives at TPF and have seen how The Five C's play out:
  • TPF cares for Season of Sharing agencies, that do amazing work, and gifted them more than $450,000 in unrestricted honorariums to use in ways they best see fit.

  • TPF collaborates with nonprofits and No Margin, No Mission consultants to increase nonprofits' thrivability and earned revenue.

  • TPF creates equitable impact by connecting with community leaders, regional health departments, and the media to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine distribution targets equitable access, transportation, vaccine hesitancy, digital access, and more.

  • TPF contributes to increasing grade-level reading scores by acting as a regional accelerator—working with multiple partners and sharing many programs and workshops with individuals and families in the 4-county region— with county-specific work led by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, United Way Suncoast, and United Way of Charlotte County.
That’s not all. Connecting and engaging are also about listening to people working in the initiatives and others participating in them. I’m challenged daily to think critically and carefully, and am consistently tasked with thinking about what could improve a certain project or program.

By doing the work, tackling challenges, accepting feedback, learning from my mistakes, and realizing that my voice and my thoughts add value, I've thrived. The ability to thrive has come from what I call quiet confidence—the knowledge, deep down, that I can tackle whatever challenges may arise. I can work on solo projects, in collaboration with team members, or across sectors. I can facilitate meetings or just listen and be an observer. I can know a great deal about a specific subject going into a project but still learn more. I can teach myself and ask questions when I need help. I'm confident in my abilities, understand my foibles, and continue to discover opportunities to evolve in even more ways.

And it wasn't as if I came into TPF without having worked with people in a wide variety of ways in multiple contexts. I've interned and worked in traditional nonprofits, in higher education, in school systems, across the U.S. and in three other countries on four different continents. I've known that I can do good work and produce results.

However, there's something different about the TPF experience. Some of it is tangible and reflects what I have already said. But some of it is intangible and just reflects a general growth in understanding about myself and the value that I bring to the work and to the world.

I'm so grateful for the experiences I've had thus far and am excited to discover what's next.

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