Published: Oct 10, 2010 02:00 AM
Modified: Oct 09, 2010 11:08 PM
Fuqua School of Business student Viola Minicozzi helped to develop a five-year fundraising plan for Durham's El Centro Hispano during her summer 2010 internship, which was funded by Duke University's Office of Durham and Regional Affairs. Minicozzi's reflection on her time at El Centro Hispano is below.
As a rising second-year graduate student, spring is met with a bit of anxiety about finding the right summer business internship. When I applied for Duke's Office of Durham and Regional Affairs' (DARA) internship as a development and marketing intern to El Centro Hispano, I wasn't sure how I could make a meaningful impact. I was hired to develop a five-year fundraising plan, as well as to re-write the organization's financial manual. As a financial services professional with almost seven years in the industry, my work experience with nonprofits like El Centro was limited, but my passion about its mission and the passion I saw in others within El Centro was not only motivating; it was truly inspiring.
I quickly learned about the dynamic relationship that DARA and El Centro have and how they accomplish amazing goals together. DARA continues to sponsor a number of El Centro programs and initiatives, namely the Enlaces program. Enlaces (or "links" in Spanish) program supports Latino children from fourth to seventh grade in preventing risky behaviors and developing positive connections with teachers and parents. DARA also provides ECH with monetary support for the administrative assistant and provides Doing Good In the Neighborhood grant support for the Driving While Impaired program.
Having grown up in a Puerto Rican household with many Hispanic relatives and friends, I feel a special connection to the Hispanic community and to the unique struggles they experience.I was determined then to come up with fundraising ideas that were lucrative, creative, sustainable, and representative of what El Centro holds as most important: community. It also came as no surprise that from my first day at ECH I was met with the characteristic warmth and familial feeling that I love and cherish from the Hispanic community. I happily became accustomed to starting my work days with hugs and one-side cheek kisses.
Working closely with CEO Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, dedicated Financial Coordinator Irene Avila and executive administrative assistant Jackie Hernandez, I quickly realized that their openness and enthusiasm would support my ideas of creating for-profit dance and cooking classes as a means to generate much-needed unrestricted funding for El Centro. The organization has excelled for many years in offering both free and affordable education classes not only to the Hispanic community, but also to the wider community of Durham. I wanted to leverage its unique culture of openness and individual improvement through education by providing venues that unite the Hispanic community in both Durham and Carrboro to the entire communities through the powerful exchange of culture.
I collaborated with program directors and many of the specialists within the organization to accomplish this goal. I am proud to report that El Centro is currently in development to offer these classes.I also revamped the membership program to more fully integrate and attract both Hispanic and non-Hispanics to the organization.
Though my internship is now over, my involvement with both DARA and El Centro continues on a volunteer basis. I return not just because I'm a fellow Hispanic who wants to give back, but because my experience at ECH helped me realize that harmonious community has little to do with a shared ethnicity.
Community reinforces what truly bonds us all: our shared humanity.
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