This post was authored by our summer intern, Fritz Pingel. Fritz, a Bronxville resident, is a recent graduate of The Masters School and will be attending Lafayette College in the fall. We were very lucky to have such a hard-working, competent young person in our office this summer.
On Saturdays during the school year, my church hosts a playgroup where a bunch of kids from Westhab’s Dayspring Community Center load up on buses, drive to my church, and spend a few hours playing or doing arts and crafts, followed by pizza for lunch. Growing up, I attended a few of these playgroups. This was my first exposure to Westhab and all of the great work it does.
This past school year, despite my parents pressing me to figure out something to do over the summer, I really didn’t have any ideas. Last summer, I worked as a lifeguard at a camp. But, even after I would apply sunscreen three or four times a day, I still ended up looking like a lobster. A few days after I realized that I had no idea how I was going to keep myself busy this summer, my mom, who teaches yoga at Dayspring, met Maureen Natkin, Westhab’s director of development. Maureen mentioned that she was interested in having an intern over the summer. After a few weeks, a trip to Westhab’s headquarters, and an interview with Maureen, I had finally figured out my summer plans. That might be misleading, because I didn’t really know what I would be working on, but I knew where I would be working and who I would be working for. Looking back now, I am incredibly lucky to have procrastinated so much and not to have been proactive, because I would not have spent my summer learning about Westhab and everything it does for the communities we live in.
On my first day, I came into the office unsure of a lot of things. But, typical for a high schooler, I was most concerned about who I would sit with at lunch. Doing my work was easy, but being the awkward kid with a bunch of adults who all knew each other—I was not sure if I could handle that. I may have just graduated from high school, but in some situations I still feel like I am in seventh grade. So I arrived at Westhab’s office and met with Maureen, who introduced me to Kerry Minto, who I worked next to and sometimes with. My fears of a lonely lunch were relieved when Kerry and I ate lunch together.
I really enjoyed my time at Westhab and working there. I don’t have a ton of knowledge about how most offices work, but, to me, Westhab was special. On my first day, six or seven people went out of their way to introduce themselves, which was really kind and made me feel welcome. What was also tangible was how passionate everyone was about the work that they are doing. In June while I was there, Westhab held an offsite all-staff meeting. It began with a general meeting in the morning, followed by breakout sessions, after which everyone came back together for a closing meeting. I was blown away by how it seemed that everyone felt and knew that they were making a difference. That type of office dynamic is one that really resonated with me and was just another example of how well Westhab changes lives.
I worked on tons of different things over the past several weeks, but my favorite project was working with the fundraising database. Learning how to work with the software and also working on a project to analyse the growth of the database and come up with ideas to minimize future costs was very interesting to me and something that I really enjoyed doing.
I am extremely grateful to Westhab as a whole, and to Maureen and Kerry, and to everyone else I worked with for providing me with the opportunity to learn about how a really good nonprofit works, and with a great summer job. I have learned so much about Westhab, about nonprofits, and about office dynamics, and I will carry this experience wherever I go.