One of the requirements for the certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership is a 300 hour internship with a community-based organization. My internship experience with Centro La Famila, Advocacy Services (CLFA) has been one of the best throughout my college education. Centro La Familia, also known as The Family Support Center, offers various services to empower low-income families to become self-sustainable. CLFA has given me the opportunity to work with all staff and board members along with encouraged me to attend numerous workshops, trainings, and board meetings.

Half of my internship consists of helping the executive director organize monthly meetings of an Advocacy Collaborative group CBOs, organizations, and consultants such as Stone Soup, Central Valley Health Network, and The Rios Company. This advocacy collaborative is called the Family Strengthening Network. This network branches out of the California Family Resource Association and essentially meets on a monthly basis to discuss family-friendly legislation bills along with current issues regarding budget cuts, and currently the Affordable Care Act (ACA). One of the many highlights of my internship experience was setting up a meeting with Assemblyman Henry T. Perea for the Family Strengthening Network. As a service scholar, I have especially broaden my networking and communication skills and have become more knowledgeable about advocacy and policymaking. Just this past Thursday, March 22, 2012, I had the opportunity to attend the California Health Benefit Exchange Board Meeting (HBEx).

“The Exchange is an independent public entity within state government with a five-member board appointed by the Governor and the Legislature.” Their vision “is to improve the health of all Californians by assuring their access to affordable, high quality care.” In my observation of the 3 panels and the public discussion throughout the board meeting, the public discussion was definitely the most exciting and influential of all. Watching my mentors speak upon their concerns regarding the ACA inspired and empowered me to always be an advocate for my community. It is clear that our society needs more advocates because it is our communities’ voice that can help pursue new policies that can in the future break some of the barriers that create stratification.

The most rewarding part of my internship with CLFA, has been having the ability to work in collaboration with new projects of which I have witnessed struggles and triumphs that come along with the implementation of new ideas and strategies. Grass root organizations are evidently important navigators in our communities especially in these hard economic times. There is nothing more rewarding than working to make your community a better place for the children. My internship experience has helped me shape my career goals and reminds me on a daily basis of why I have chosen a career path in the community sector and how I plan to make a difference.