RUPCO-RCAL Summer Intern Sorts Data for Deeper Knowledge

John Krom, Sacred Heart UniversityRUPCO welcomes Sacred Heart University junior John Krom as a summer intern addressing issues of poverty in the local area. Krom will work closely with experienced staff in Program Services to help identifying families eligible for the Family Self-sufficiency Program, explore resident population statistics, and determine other demographic data. A recipient of the American Legion Scholarship Award, Krom is also a part of Sacred Heart University’s Junior Achievement group, which focuses on teaching young children the aspects of business and what careers are available to their generation. Krom’s internship is a result of a partnership between RUPCO, RCAL and New York State  Education Department’s Adult Career and Continuing Education Services (ACCES).

Bonnie Dumas, ACCES Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, coordinated the summer work experience. “We hope this opportunity at RUPCO will give John work experience and provide him soft skills in a career field he is interested in.” She sees this as an opportunity for John to gain the workforce experience he needs to transition from college schedules to business structure.

RUPCO oversees paid and unpaid internships each year as part of its commitment to the community. “We believe in providing valuable work experience in the nonprofit sector,” notes Tara Collins, Director of Communications of Resource Development. “In just the last three years, RUPCO has hosted a dozen interns from SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Ulster, Kingston High School, Sacred Heart University and Walden School District. Students gain skills and a resume addition, but the real value comes with their increased knowledge about their communities and how nonprofits support their neighborhoods. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nonprofit sector accounted for 11.4 million jobs nationwide in 2013, 10.3% of all private sector employment. That employment number is rising each year. Interning is a valuable experience for future young professionals and helps them understand the mechanics of nonprofit business in general, and RUPCO’s community engagement specifically.”

Hilary Nichols of RCAL is glad John has the opportunity to share his skillset at RUPCO while also being open to learning new skills that will cross connect in other spheres of the workforce. “John will brings a sense of eagerness and a way for people to re-look at their own job so they have a renewed sense of importance. I hope it will bring a sense of satisfaction within the RUPCO agency to have him there. I hope John will gain a sense of what the culture and climate is within an office or business environment so he learns how everyone needs to come together as a team to get things done. He can take what he learns and also apply it to college.”

John Krom and familyKrom’s previous customer service experience will come in handy this summer. A former line cook at Hurley Mountain Inn and waiter for Olivebridge’s County Inn, Krom also assisted with planning and organizing college activities. These jobs have prepared him with organizational skills and attention to tend to customer needs. Along with data entry and demographic research, Krom’s investigative skills will help RUPCO better understand its client base and how to serve them better in the future. Krom hopes that through collaborative work, he can help RUPCO clients and program participants advance to “better living, so people can move on, to lead more independent lives, and to help them save money.”

For Krom, Home Matters because it “shelters and protects you. It’s your sanctuary, and it makes you feel safe.” He emphasizes the importance of having a stable family life within home. “Family is what motivates you to your best. It helps you grow into the best human you could be, and provides a safe environment for you to live in. Family teaches you the foundation of life and pushes you to never give up. Without my family, I don’t know where I would be or where my motivation would come from.”

No Place Like Home

Snapshot of Tom Hansen's homeI have called Ulster County home my entire life and I have never thought of it as otherwise. No matter where I went in the world, no one location was drawing enough to keep me away from the place I called home. No one location was ever enticing enough to make me want to leave Ulster County behind. The world is undoubtedly filled with beauty, but Upstate New York has a special place in my heart that will always make it my home.

I grew up in at a secluded stone house nestled in Stone Ridge. I have many memories of this house from all seasons of the year. I would spend my springs watching the heavy rain and thunderstorms from my porch. My mother and I always used to call thunderstorms “giant bowling tournaments in the sky.” Watching storms with her is one of my best memories growing up. I would spend my summers and autumns exploring the woods behind my house and scouring my stream for frogs and crayfish; my dog would always follow me everywhere I explored without fail. No matter how deep into the woods I went, he would always be right behind keeping an eye on me. I would also walk to my grandmothers or jump into the river using a rope swing tied to a tree. I would spend my winters walking along the frozen stream or building snow forts in the giant snow banks made from my dad’s snow plow. There was always beauty to be found at my house.

As I grew up and left childhood behind, things began to change; the harsh reality of life began to press down on me. My favorite tree was cut down while we were away on vacation. I was furious with my parents because I never got to climb it one last time. The dog I had grown up with, my partner in crime, passed away. Hurricane floods took away the tree holding up the rope swing. I did not get into the college I had dreamed of going to in high school. I drifted apart from my childhood best friend and my mother passed away. As much as these events changed the way I remembered things, they were never able to take away the beauty of this area that I call home. I still hike to the top of Bonticue Crag every summer to see the entire valley stretched out beneath me. I still swim in every river I can and ski every mountain possible. This area will always be my home, no matter what hardships I endure, because every day I make new memories. Ulster County will always be a place I can return happily to.

 

Tom Hansen is RUPCO’s Assistant Event Coordinator. He is currently a student at Ulster Community College majoring in Business Administration.

The Home in Community

Shot of Alison Simmons in her communityHome is more than just a house, or an apartment, or a bedroom, it needs a community to be whole. My family was always very involved in our community, which means I was very involved in my community. My parents coached almost all of our town sports teams, we attended the local church, and my brothers and I were in Scouts. The whole town knew my family, so we always had people looking out for us. Whenever I was out with my mom, everyone said hello and came up to talk, even all the kids at my school knew her; my school was pretty small but I think that says something about my community.

When I was thirteen, I could walk into town after school with my friends; I always felt safe because wherever I went, people knew me and I knew them. I did not always like it when I was younger because if I did anything I was not supposed to, my parents always knew by the time I got home. I felt it was unfair because my friends never got caught and I nearly always did; I see now that it was a great thing. It kept me out of trouble, it opened opportunities for me, and I met so many people.

Most of my free time was spent in town just hanging with friends. There were multiple times when my phone died or it rained and I needed to be picked up, but I had no way of contacting them. I always found someone I knew who could help me out. People get shaped by more than their housing situation and that is why I believe community is so important to the home.

Today I live in an apartment complex and I miss knowing all of my neighbors. The only person in the complex I talk to is one woman who lives two buildings down. It could just be because I am a college student in a complex of mostly new families and older couples, but it is a lonely feeling not being a part of the community around me. I never realized how important it was to me until I was no longer part of it.

A lot of people try to be independent and believe that they can rely solely on themselves or their families when times get tough. If we stopped to think about how many people in our lives actually affect us, it would become obvious that it is more than just those few. No one is alone in this world; as long as you look, people are out there to help. Being part of a community is about being “home.”

Home Away From Home

Lazo_MTS1My mother took me to El Salvador for the first time before I was old enough to talk. Every summer she would pack us all up – my two siblings and I – and we would journey to my favorite place in the world. El Salvador is heat and more heat, it is living with sweat and dirt, it is bugs on bugs on bugs. It is hammocks and rubber rocking chairs, pupusas and pollo campero, it is where my family lives; it is home. How it is that a country that I wasn’t born in, that I wasn’t raised in, could be my country? For me, it just is.

The word “home” doesn’t always have to be taken so literally. My home lies in the memoires of happier times when I, my two older siblings, and six cousins would journey to our parents’ home country for the summer. Home is about being together. We made friends, played games, scraped our knees and ankles and arms. We ate our favorite food – tamales, carne asada, tortillas, choco sandia, arroz, jocotes, the list goes on – and walked around barefoot on the dirt road in front of my abuela’s house. We showered with cold water and got bit ALL over by pesky mosquitos and mutant ants. We went to the beach and played in the black sand where we caught tiny crabs by the rocks. We withstood torrential rains, mini earthquakes, and even a sandstorm where my brother lost a shoe and a neighbor lost a roof. Best of all, we exploded all. Kinds. Of. Firecrackers! All of our free spending money went to buying various types of “cohetes.”

ILazo_Boat1 am proud to have a connection to my people and I am joyous that I have my memories to fall back on. My home matters to me because in its shelter, I became the person I am today. Though there are less of us who visit at a time now, and less places for us to visit due to the rising gang violence that is taking place, El Salvador holds a really special place in my heart. It is my sanctuary. It is my home. Away from home.

Emily Lazo is RUPCO’s Editorial Assistant to Communications. She is a student at SUNY New Paltz double-majoring in English and Communication and Media with a concentration in Intercultural/Interpersonal.