Behind the Scenes

Looking back on my second week of work, it serves to say that it was not as diverse in different activities as the first. Circles was not happening on Wednesday. There was no need for me at the food pantry on Tuesday. Gleaning had yet to have their first glean, and thus all that was required of me was bagging potatoes for a couple of hours, and with Friday being my birthday, I was not at the Farmer’s Market.

That left the Work Ready program as the center of my activities. I started a few different projects that my boss had in store for me: I began to edit videos in order to create something in order to entice volunteers; I started to work on organizing and closing files that she wanted to get done before the end of the summer; and I began to craft a workshop that I would give in the class. The files took up the majority of my time, yet I still found myself helping out with the GED program, sitting in on the budgeting and cooking classes that happened throughout the week, and joining in some of the tutoring programs, especially one given by a volunteer who also happens to be an Anthropology Professor at Shippensburg University. I found that she was a truly great teacher, one who could take an introductory chapter about Greek, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations and spread it into a forty-five minute conversation, one which not only interested me, but also seemed to interest the clients.

However, despite getting to spend time in all of these different facets of the Work Ready program, my favorite piece of that week was when I accompanied my boss to a bi-monthly meeting that occurs between her, other people who run similar job and welfare oriented programs in the area, and their boss. At this meeting, everybody had their own handout, and each handout described the different requirements that each client had to maintain in order to continue receiving their benefits, as well as whether they met those requirements or not. While at first it just seemed like a check-in, where each person just read off their clients and their progress, I soon found that each different program had to abide by their own different rules, set by the country, the state, and themselves. While one would think that there would be some level of congruency between these rules, I found out that it is not the case. Certain programs were unable to help others, simply due to an hour or so difference in hours of compliance, while I also saw that many of our clients had been to various other programs before, and thus everybody in the room seemed to know a bit about the backstory that each client had. Deals were made, people were either continued, terminated from the programs, or passed to different programs, all in hope that the different program may be of more help. To sit back and watch all of the behind-the-scenes effort that goes into these programs, and how they work with one another showed me that each program is not its own separate entity that deals with other programs only when necessary, but instead they are a collective.

Brandon McTigue ’15
Gettysburg, PA