Opinion: From 'troublemaker' to helping other troubled youth
In June 2016, I was just a 25-year-old troublemaker who stayed at home too much. Then one day, I decided to go to Spirit Mountain Casino, on the shuttle bus, with my mother. She overheard Jerry Herrmann, the president of Rivers of Life Center, talking on the phone, and she told me that, since I needed a job, I should talk with this gentleman. I did, and the rest is history. I have been here six years, and that is by far the longest I have ever cared to stay at any job.
I heard that my job duty was to be a tour guide. So, I was under the impression that my job was to learn about local history and instruct residents of their surroundings, kind of like Mr. Herrmann did on the bus, as we host celebration events, walking and bus tours.
Then, after working here, I discovered that we focus on beautifying lands and providing at-risk youth opportunities to improve their quality of life through the primary effort of landscaping. It is nice to help steer young people in the right direction as they develop into contributing members of society and better human beings as they work through our program.
This job has helped me find and understand God better than ever. I send more prayers now than I have ever have before.
I have learned the ins and outs — both the hard way and from Mr. Herrmann — about grant writing, newspaper article publishing, and importantly assisting in our financial affairs and accounting. Mr. Herrmann comes up with a new strategy in grants for consideration nearly every other month, and I'm the one that has to make sure it's grammatically correct, punctuations are precise and the budget elements work as they should.
I thought this was all there was to grant writing, but there is more. The people and organizations that support our nonprofit youth education and training program are very pleased when they see us following the parameters of our grants as submitted. I then give them final reports with public thank-you letters, having granted us the support.
As office manager, I've learned a huge amount of skills that help me in writing, interpersonal communication and financial practices.
Craig Holfeld is the office administrator for Rivers of Life Center, a nonprofit group that works with at-risk youth throughout the Willamette Valley to lead tours and conduct environmental restoration.
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