Action Commitment Update in Brief: Lessons of Community Organizing

Action Commitment Updates In Brief provide a summary of a volunteer activity that was undertaken as a result of Finding the Center Conference 2011.

University of Idaho student Megan Kehrein commited to a full day of service with Habitat for Humanity in her parents’ community in Yolo County, CA. She helped with two houses that have been under construction for almost a year and got to meet one of the families who will benefit from the project. Megan has volunteered for Habitat affiliates before, and she described how her multiple volunteer experiences have reinforced the importance of a positive attitude in community organizers. Megan explained that some of the organizers she’s encountered are understandably stressed by the pressures of their work and have resorted to sharing gossip and using critical language that can make temporary volunteers feel guilty and frustrated. Megan stated, “I really learned a lot more about interpersonal effectiveness and community organizing because of the complex experience I had [volunteering] than if I had just heard Paul and Kitara speak.”

Megan saw how important it is to act as a steward for projects she might represent in the future. She remembered Kitara teaching that “we cannot just have a cause that we think is beneficial: we must also show others why it is important through our own example.” Megan also noted Paul’s advice: “We must not only acknowledge our own social location, but that of others. We can really make a difference in our interactions with others by paying attention to our relationships, communication, and conflict style.” Based on her volunteer experiences, Megan is considering a career in counseling, social work, or community organizing. She will continue to volunteer for the Habitat project in her parents’ neighborhood when she goes home for visits.

Megan earned credit toward her degree at the University of Idaho by participating in Finding the Center Conference through a workshop offered by the UI Department of Sociology’s Certificate in Diversity & Stratification.

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About nwchr

The Northwest Coalition for Human Rights (NWCHR) exists to facilitate connections and communication among organizations and individuals who are engaged in human rights and social justice work in the Northwest region of the United States, with special focus on the Inland Northwest. The coalition, inspired by Bill Wassmuth's former Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment, will give strength to those working at the local level by allowing them to share resources, information, and ideas, as well as making them part of a larger support system. The University of Idaho Office of Human Rights, Access, and Inclusion (HRAI) in Moscow serves as the administrative home for the NWCHR, and the Coalition strives to build strong membership from throughout Idaho and eastern Washington, as well as from other parts of the Northwest region. All are welcome to join NWCHR and give their input.
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