Outreach and Collaborate!


What to do when you have a no show for an event?

You just have to accept and learn from your mistakes. This past Saturday, our organization planned for a youth forum and introductory workshop to get students acquainted with our upcoming Spring Media program (Dorchester Initiative for Youth). We waited for over an hour and no one showed up. I along with the college students who helped organized the project had a strong feeling that this might happen when it was 12 noon.

We spent over a month organizing a youth forum and introduction workshop and to see our efforts go to waste was disheartening. We had youth express interest in the program, however never committed to showing up for this event.

Lessons learned? Outreach more and utilize networks best as possible. We outreached through our community networks, but we may not have generated enough hype for the program. And my one weakness is that I, myself don't have too much credibility in the community when outreaching because a lot of people do not know me as well. I have to problem solve on my own networking strategies for outreach and event planning purposes. Some things though, are out of your hands- winter break, students with no interest and busy schedules. We will be working harder on encouraging them to apply to the program in March.

A massive workload is piling on for me, as I take on more projects. I am continually connecting to other organizations who express interest in utilizing media to educate youth on topics such as domestic violence and immigration. I am hesitant to collaborate because I don't know if I have the capacity. At the same time, I know I will have to go with my gut and just run with something that sounds good even if I will only be around for 6 more months. So I will pursue these opportunities. It's funny because I've always seen other people take on more work than they can handle and ask why they would do that to themselves. Just have to go with my gut, these issues are important to me and the longterm needs of my org.

On a personal/career note, does anyone have suggestions as what to do post-service? I am thinking of maybe staying on with my organization part time, but would love to keep my options open.

Comment from Elizabeth Goussetis on March 2, 2009 - 1:01pm

Hi Janet! I hear ya on the dilemma of potential collaborations with youth organizations (especially when the timeline is longer than your time as a VISTA.) At Media Bridges we've talked about having some sort of process for partnerships with youth organizations, but it seems like each case is different in terms of what the organization needs from us and what they bring to the table. You don't want to turn anyone away, but you can only do so much. At first I tried to do everything myself in working with the organizations that I connected with, but now I've found it much more effective to funnel them to the resources and staff that can help them directly, rather than try to be the middleman. Have you had success with any particular type of project?

Comment from Janet Vo on March 9, 2009 - 1:35pm

Hi Elizabeth! I have not had much great success in collaborating with any groups. It seems like after the initial meeting the potential collaborations fizzles. I am in a Youth workers network for Asian American organizations though but we are still in the early phases of figuring out what kind of resources we would like to offer each other. I think they have the potential for being helpful, but its seems that I am on my own. However, I keep on going through this process because maybe a good relationship will build.