Inspiring People -- Meet Paula Z.

With our crazy economy and decisions about education, careers, and experience, looking at the job market can be a little overwhelming. Fortunately, I know some incredible people who are passionate about their work and also take time out to enjoy the little things in life. I'd like to introduce you to a few them!
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I've had the pleasure of working with Westminster Neighborhood Ministries for the last two years as they prepare for an annual fundraising event, Walking for DreamsWNM is located on the Near Eastside in area that has one of the highest rates of poverty in the city.  Within the neighborhood, 33.6 percent of the families have income below the poverty level compared to 16.6 percent in Indianapolis and 13% in the nation. 

Westminster works with the neighborhood, community organizations, and programming partners to serve local families by the provision of children’s programs that meet nurturing, safety, educational, and developmental needs, the provision of food and clothing to meet the basic needs of neighborhood families, and the provision of supportive services.

Enter our first inspiring person:

Paula Z
Executive Assistant

Westminster Neighborhood Ministries

Responsibilities: Build and Develop Community Partnerships, Grant Writing and Proposal Development, Work with Board, Staff Members, and Volunteers with New and Ongoing Projects

How long have you worked with Westminster Neighborhood Ministries?

Almost 6 years
What brought you here in the first place?
I worked at Nordstrom for 7 years and decided I wanted to do something else. I felt called to do something else. I knew I was interested in something like this, and when my Mom heard of a job opening, I applied. I interviewed in August and started in September. At first, I was a part-time office assistant. Shortly thereafter, I was promoted to Program Director, a position that I held for 4 years. I took on my new role as Executive Assistant a little over year ago.
Have you experienced any challenges in these positions?
With any job, you'll have professional challenges, like learning the job and what is expected. With each new role came new responsibilities. Lately, it's been developing skills in Grant Writing and Community Partnerships. Throughout my time here, I've been learning about the families and community we serve. The challenge there is figuring out what they need and how to best serve the families, the kids, and the challenges they face.
With all of these challenges, why do you stick to it?
I get up in the morning and I want to come to work. Every day. I don't know if I can express an exact reason in words, but there is a never a day that I think, "I really don't want to go to work today." Each day here presents something different and something new to do. It's never boring! Plus, working with kids, there is always something funny going on!

What is something you are currently working on?
Currently, I'm working with the annual Walking for Dreams event. It's going well. We are hoping to reach goals we have set for ourselves for participation, donor engagement, and funding this year. Afterwards, we'll evaluate to consider our future with the Walk in years to come. We've put a lot of work into it -- expanding our advocacy and awareness through social media, involving new people with a variety of skills and talents, and expanding Community Partnerships in order to build relationships that will help us grow our programs and services.
What have you experienced at WMN that you will carry with you no matter where life takes you?
Certainly a variety of skills -- Nonprofit Administration skills, Nonprofit Management skills, Grant Writing skills. These are skills that can be used anywhere. In the bigger picture, though, I've learned a lot about the population we serve and it's given me a new perspective when considering environments and cultures that are different from my own. It is so easy to place judgement when you can't or won't see things from another's perspective.
 What advice would you give to someone who is interested in this line of work?
Get involved! I started out giving my time to a similar organization and it was through that experience that I discovered I would like to do something like this for a living. The earlier on you get involved, the more experience you'll have, the more you'll see, the more relationships you'll build, and the better off you'll be. If you're volunteering somewhere and a job opening comes up... Well, you never know. Whatever you do, you've got to get out and get involved n the community! Particularly in nonprofits, it is all about being involved and building relationships.

When she's not hard at work, you'll find her spending some QT with her favorite pooch, Ocean, or catching live shows at White River State Park. She's currently in the midst of an Indiana Brew Tour, visiting all of the breweries in the state with a few good friends. Her favorites so far?

"I love Bier Brewery! Triton Brewing Company has 'forking awesome beer' and Flat 12 Bierworks was a great time. My favorite of all so far, though, is Three Floyds in Munster, IN! We still have 20 or 25 breweries to go. I can't wait!"
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Have questions for Paula about her work with Westminster, how she stays so motivated, or how to reserve a spot on that awesome brew tour? Post your questions in the Comment Box below! To get involved, visit Westminster's Facebook Page for regular updates about all of the great work going at WMN!

Sarah :: Plucky in Love

Sarah, aka "Plucky", blogs on the reg, unless she's on vacation or there's a Pretty Little Liars marathon or she's mulling over the implications of the phrase "on fleek." She can't live without iced coffee, a portable phone charger, or equal pay. Say hello!

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