Julie Heineking: Presentations of Impact 2020

Julie Heineking: Presentations of Impact 2020

My name is Julie Heineking. I am a Public Ally thru AmeriCorps. I am placed at the Human Services Campus where I am a Community Engagement Ambassador.

My journey to how I was placed here was interesting but simple at the same time. About a year and half ago, I was feeling stuck. I had a job working at a retail store for 12 years. I enjoyed the job, the people I worked with, and the customers. However, this job was very stagnant as there was rarely room to move up or change job positions. I figured that if I wanted to change my life it was now or never as the saying goes. I started applying for jobs on indeed.com. I was getting calls for interviews but I realized they were for the same type of position – retail. Yes change is good but not what I wanted. I knew I could not do the same thing and expect my life to change or feel fulfilled. I saw a posting for Public Allies on Indeed.com. I thought that sounds like a great opportunity. I applied. I looked at it as the answer is no until you try. Finally after a time it came down to 2 offers. One was PetSmart call center and the other Public Allies. I knew PetSmart was the better paying opportunity but Public Allies was the better work opportunity. As I was going through the interview process with Public Allies and their partners I wasn’t picked in the first round. Public Allies let me know that there would be a second round of interviews if I wanted to keep going. I said yes. In between PetSmart not being able to verify my social and trying to do the second round of interviews, someone had pulled out of the Public Ally Program and I was offered a position. I accepted the offer from Public Allies.. I felt relieved, excited, scared because I knew this would be well worth the work and effort the description had said in the job description.

I have 4 stories/lessons that have made the biggest impact on me so far. As I was thinking about them and began writing about these memories I realized they seem small but their impact on me was immeasurable.

My first story is that I live a distance away from placement. I can drive in to work but I choose to take the rapid bus to and from work. I always have the most interesting stares/comments when I get off at 11th avenue and Jefferson. People make comments like “why are you getting off at “that” stop?” I reply back that “I get off at this stop because it is the closest stop to where I work.” The riders then tell me it’s not safe to get off there or that the people in the tents are lazy or addicts or whatever excuse they want to tell me. I tell them back yes a few people may be lazy, a few may be addicts but that doesn’t speak for all of them. Each person has their reason for being there and it’s not fair to place assumptions on those individuals when you haven’t gotten to know them. I explain that if you are rude to anyone chances are they are rude back but if you are nice to someone chances are they will be nice back. It all depends on how you want to be treated. I explain that just because you are in a better situation than people experiencing homelessness doesn’t mean that people experiencing homelessness are less than human. People experiencing homelessness have feelings, friends, and family, people that care about them and they care about others as well. I find that before this work experience I didn’t really speak up for anyone or even myself. I have learned in order to change the world it starts with one baby step at a time. It’s having that conversation with a person to explain a situation, for them to ponder it, and hopefully for that individual to come around and agree. I hope that when they do come around that they can have that conversation with someone else. It’s about changing one life, one perspective at a time to make changes for good.

My second story happened at one of our Community Space Days. I happened to go to lunch with Maggie who was in the prior cohort. Maggie said to me that she tries to go to lunch with a different ally every CSD. I asked why. Maggie told me it was to get to know someone new and to have meaningful conversations with new people. That really stuck with me. I have tried to follow that lead. I did work on that to a degree. I noticed that I would go with a new ally for 2 weeks instead of a new person every week. It was just where my comfy level is/was. For now, with having virtual community space days, I feel like I am missing out on a wonderful opportunity to get to know a few Allies on more personal/professional way. I enjoyed it because what a great way to connect, network, and enjoy lunch. Maggie’s lesson has taught me that I can apply a lunch discussion to many scenarios.

My third story is an activity that Jake had us do in our Team Service Projects groups at our Community Space Day at St Mary’s Food bank. Jake had us do a gift seat activity. The gift seat activity is a list of questions that will give us answers to either what we are doing well or constructive criticism. Within my group, I did try to make questions to a person that I felt would be best able to answer it within that category. For example, there was a second year ally who knew our 10 plus 1 leadership actions well, so I picked a question from that category and asked her. I have now taken those questions to work and have asked different employees that I work with to answer those questions. For myself, I know I don’t like hearing constructive criticism. I know this program is about growth both personally and professionally, so I am trying to take advantage of the experience. I know I don’t need to take what anyone has to say personally but it is something they see about me from their point of view. It is up to me how I choose to use the information given to me.

My last story is the fact that I feel fortunate to have been placed at the Human Services Campus with 2 other Public Allies. We have worked on a few projects together (shadowing multiple agencies, surveys, etc). I learned to ask what they thought of what we did and what we saw. I feel thankful that they gave me their responses and helped me look at the activities in a different light as well. I feel that I got a more rounded experience by being able to talk with co-workers and former allies who are at the Human Services Campus.

At this point in my life, I feel like I have come a long way in the 8 months since starting this program. I have figured out what my weaknesses are and what my strengths are. I feel more comfortable networking. I am learning how to become a better public speaker by joining a toastmasters club. I am looking forward to going back to school to obtain my bachelor’s degree.