National Internship Day!

It’s National Internship Day! Meet Anna Butz–a bilingual, a parent, an Iowan, an educator, and once again, a student!  Her robust love of learning and discovery led to her obtaining her Master’s in Education, but she’s not stopping there. Anna shared her talents as a Women’s Services Intern at Catherine McAuley Center in conjunction with her pursuit of a degree in Human services. Read on to learn more about Anna’s experiences and accomplishments!

Where are you from, and what is your background? 

My name is Anna, I’m 30 years old, and a single mom. I went to high school in Mt. Vernon, and went on to gain my Master’s in Education in 2018 from DePauw University. As part of my education I spent 6 months in Colombia, and have worked in higher education at Cornell College since graduating. 

In January I began taking coursework pursuing a Human services degree. 

What was your first experience with volunteering your time to an organization or a cause you cared about?

I grew up in an agricultural  background, did 4H, and when I was in highschool I volunteered at the Democratic caucus. When I was in college I volunteered as an English Tutor at the Center, did an internship with Justice for Our Neighbors. 

What drew you to become an intern at CMC? 

Field experiences are a required part of my Human Services coursework over a summer, and this was a way to make that happen. My family is from Cedar Rapids and had connections to the Center, so we reached out to Paula and Katie via email wanting to do field placement, and I was directed to Women’s Services.

 I just loved it! I really enjoy working with women and adults. I’ve taught kids, teens, adults, so I’ve had a lot of experience, but I found that I love working with women and adults the most. I’m interested in getting my certified drug and alcohol counseling certificate. 

What is your favorite thing about serving and working with the community that you do? 

I just loved it, I loved the people I worked with, and I am figuring this out at 30. I really enjoy the women being honest, and I really like that. I like being real with them. I’ve experienced a little bit of, and I have an ability to relate to them at some levels. I really enjoy talking about substance abuse, and started a support group for friends of family of people facing substance abuse challenges.  

I think that I hadn’t had a lot of experience working with homelessness, and that was really great to have experience with that. I like being able to sit down and talk about things with the women. I was able to practice a trauma informed approach, even if I had only taken one semester of coursework. I was able to apply what I had learned, and I loved that my internship was so hands-on. The WS team had me talking to the women who lived there, I did room checks, stuff that probably 10 years ago would have intimidated me, so I just loved it! I spent time doing what needed to be done, and I learned a ton.

What were some of your highs and lows during your internship? 

People stepping into leadership roles and getting the chance to watch team members practice case management as fantastic social workers. I got to observe them talking with clients and building relationships, learn more about how the Center does things and the role that it has in the community. I just learned so much. 

Working in the Transitional Housing program, and getting that unique experience and social work setting. In individual case management, you are also trying to make sure people get along and it really allows you to have a deeper relationship with them. 

Those sorts of groups where we can talk about our lived experiences, and hey, we’re all different, but we’ve been through this. So finding those commonalities and lived experiences, the challenges of homelessness, all of that is helpful and making for a cohesive group. 

It’s great that the WS team has found ways that the women can connect over a focus of healing, healthy relationships, resume building, etc. 

A few times clients had to leave the program, and that was so difficult. We formed relationships and it can be hard when someone has to go. It was so good to be around during those times of transition, and learn more how to manage a work-life balance. We can’t take it all on.

All of these things were a very useful and usable experience. 

What is your hope for the long term impact of your role and work?

 I would love to work at CMC when I am able to, I really enjoyed it. I worked 10-20 hours a week, in addition to my regular job and being a single parent. Going there did not feel like going to work. I would look forward to it just because I wanted to be there. 

I would like to do more drug and alcohol counseling, and I did some of that. This internship will prepare me to do that work in the future, and learn the challenges, the strengths, the resources available.The Women’s Services team works so hard, deal with a lot, they are on-call outside of work hours, and they deserve to be recognized from their work. By being women-centered and available to the residents during the day, the Center provides something that isn’t available everywhere, and staff are constantly educating themselves to better their services. I think that work that Women’s Services is doing is so important.

Volunteer Spotlight: Bailey

Meet Bailey Wilson – a passionate volunteer who has a vision for where she’s headed and the work she wants to do along the way. Originally from Pella, Iowa, she came to CMC as a volunteer with AmeriCorps, and serves in the Women’s Services department of CMC. Her official title is Race, Gender, and Homelessness VISTA, and she hopes her research that she is conducting in the year of her service has a lasting impact at CMC. She has been volunteering consistently since finishing college, and hopes to continue her education by experience and by pursuing graduate school.

 

What was your first experience with volunteering?

Technically, it was involuntarily; I was a teenager, and a friend and I were pouring orange juice and milk for people at a pancake breakfast. Later on, after I was finished with college and during the pandemic I volunteered willingly! I volunteered with the food bank in my hometown of Pella, IA, and later with a volunteer campaign as well as with the ACLU. For me in general, it’s important to do work that aligns with my values. I was between work and college, and I needed to fill my time in a meaningful way. I found volunteering to be a good way to find fulfillment, build my resume, and stay connected.

How did you find out about the AmeriCorps program, and what drew you to this position?

I was unemployed, looking to grow my skill set and network, and volunteering to build my career path due to my interest in nonprofits. I had a friend in AmeriCorps in another state, and I was looking for a way to volunteer full-time, to be a paid volunteer. I saw it as something similar to an internship structure. I was really drawn to the social equity as well as the research aspect of the position, as I hope to pursue grad school in the future.

What are you working on currently?

In my role I’m conducting interviews with women and other gender minorities who have experienced any kind of homelessness, whether it’s living in transitional housing, doubling up, living in shelters, or completely unhoused. I’m focusing on listening to their stories; what are their needs in terms of resources? What are the gaps in the services they receive? I am focused on their voices; they know what they need and to lift up their voices and help them be heard. My work is person-centered, and driven by the community I serve.

What is your favorite thing about serving and working with the community that you do?

Being a listening ear to people, and seeing people able to speak to the gaps and shortcomings in the community. You get to see peoples’ humanity and to see them impact our work as providers. I really like hearing people express themselves so clearly and be ready to share what their needs are.

What is your hope for the long term impact of your role and work?

My hope is that providers are able to be more responsive to the needs of those they serve. I would love to see how what I’m doing within the agency impacts it, on both a small and large scale. I would love to see more agencies engaging around client feedback, for the clients to become part of the leadership, implementing change where the research shows it is necessary. I would like to see agencies able to ask for feedback anonymously about providers, what additional skill sets their providers could have that they as the client could benefit from. My hope is that [our community can] become more client-centered, and that they could share, “If I was in charge, this is how things would be.” I want to have the voices listened to and the changes to be implemented.

What surprised you about your role at CMC?

There was a lot of room within this project to redefine the scope, and a lot of freedom to define it on my own. Race, Gender, and Homelessness are very broad descriptors. I’ve been able to ask myself how we could tie in these things and narrow down the scope in a helpful way that results in capacity building.

What skills are you developing to use in your future career?

In a broader sense, communication skills. I’ve been able to better understand how to redirect, ask for what I need. I’ve been told I’m really good at boundaries. Specific to my project, I’m learning how to navigate and direct a conversation, and practice active listening. Within the interview, I’m finding out how to build rapport with a person in a short time frame, build trust, and try to make my interviewee more comfortable. I’m navigating sensitive research interview skills, and sensitive listening to focus on building that trust.

What do you hope to do after finishing your AmeriCorps term with CMC?

I would like to work with the CMC in the short term! Advocacy in service to the LGBTQ+ community, either through working with the ACLU or One Iowa is in the long term plan. I would like to leave the Midwest to pursue more education, and perhaps go into academia and research. I want the ability though to find that out and I feel like my experiences will guide me to what that looks like!