By Stephanie Jerger
People often ask me, “how did you get started in non-profit work?” or “why did you want to work for a non-profit organization?” Truth is (drum roll please… ) like most, I don’t have a good answer. Life often takes you in unexpected directions.
What I do know is this: I have no plans to leave. I have learned that the reward you walk away with at the end of the day is greater than the feeling of discovering a $20 bill in the pocket of an old pair of jeans… And to top it off, the jeans still fit. I cherish going home every day knowing that everything I did at work is a step towards improving the life of a family in need. And the great news is, you don’t have to be employed by a nonprofit to do that work: we always need volunteers!
My name is Stephanie Jerger, and I am the Marketing Coordinator for Any Baby Can. Any Baby Can is an SA2020 Opportunity Partner under Family Well-Being. Formerly the Community Relations Coordinator, the biggest change in my new position isn’t going from a three-word title to a two-word title (whether that’s more or less fancy I can’t decide), but that I no longer get to see the joy on the face of volunteers after a late evening at the office providing child supervision. The passion for children and their families that I see in the volunteers, donors and supporters who walk through our doors is beyond inspiring. When I think about all the volunteer opportunities SA2020 offers through their various Opportunity Partners, I’m amazed by all of the love the city of San Antonio has to give. Members of our community are willing to shovel dirt, read a book to a child, serve a meal to the homeless or help with child care to make a difference.
All this love brings me to the SA2020 Causes that are closest to my own heart: Family Well-Being (no, I don’t have to say that), Education and Economic Competitiveness. Even though I primarily work on Family Well-Being, I believe that not one of SA2020’s Cause areas can reach its vision for 2020 without the support and success of the others. I view it as a continuous web—each Cause area is structurally dependent on the others to grow, to make progress. To succeed in Education, every generation needs to see school as important and positive, not as a waste of effort. To succeed in Economic Competitiveness, kids need to see the value behind a steady job in order to set high goals for themselves. That all begins with the family, the parents or caregiver, which falls under Family Well-Being. Every generation looks up to the one before them for inspiration and guidance, and I think we are right on track with SA2020 as the vision for the future of San Antonio.
When I was first introduced to SA2020 and Any Baby Can was asked to become an Opportunity Partner under Family Well-Being, they said things like, “move the needle,” and “linking volunteer actions to indicators,” and I’m sure my face looked like a confused puppy who’d just heard an unfamiliar noise. The idea of measuring and connecting our organization’s outcomes to larger data collection throughout the city kinda blew our minds; this kind of data-driven, goal-oriented accountability is not something you often see. And with all the passionate people working on SA2020 goals, I couldn’t think of anything better than to participate in a movement to improve San Antonio and support the families that Any Baby Can serves.
So whatever brings you into work in the nonprofit world–as a Marketing Coordinator or a volunteer–there are always rewards. Those rewards can be as simple as going home knowing you made a difference to a family in need, which is a feeling unlike any other. But what SA2020 shows us is that those rewards can be much bigger… Going home knowing that the difference you made directly contributed to work to improve the lives of families throughout San Antonio, now that’s progress.