Two weeks ago, I was fortunate to sit in on a board meeting for the community benefit organization my team is writing a grant for. My teammate and I were invited to sit front and center for the meeting at the Fresno Rescue Mission. I have never had the opportunity to sit on a board meeting, so I was not expecting to participate in a meaningful way. I was surprised that we were asked to explain exactly what our role is during the planning process for the Fresno Rescue Mission’s forced relocation due to the High Speed Rail. Our mentor, Deborah Torres had wonderful things to say about our partnership. We introduced ourselves, our group and what we are contributing to the project. As we explained to the board of approximately fifteen individuals, our contribution is to seek funding for a strategic plan that will eventually be the foundation of the Fresno Rescue Mission’s vision for the future of the organization. Although I was nervous about joining the board’s conversation, I must say it was much easier to communicate the work we are doing because of the amount of time and research we have put in.

One of benefits of participating in the meeting was getting to see exactly how our team fit in to the overall scheme of the High-Speed Rail move, and just how important our work is to the organization. While it is it is exciting that our contribution will leave a substantial footprint for years to come, it does add pressure because I now know how invested the Rescue Mission is in the work that our group is undertaking with the organization. The board members were interested in, engaged and supportive of our efforts. All of the members of the board have a genuine and deep passion for the Fresno Rescue Mission and its future, especially in the potential to partner with Fresno State for future research and data analysis. They were curious about the possible partnership with the Humanics program once it became clear that some of the community data needed to move forward in the planning phase was missing. Some members of the board discussed the option of using Fresno State students in the Humanics and Social Sciences departments to help fill the needed gap with research and data analysis projects. It was very exciting to see how one project can boost the excitement for other projects.

The best part of the meeting was hearing the outcome of the benefit event that took place a few days before the board meeting. Not only have I been present at the Rescue Mission see their daily works, but I was also privileged to be present at the Rescue Mission’s annual banquet. The board allowed my teammate and I to see the amount of money raised that evening through individual donors and other fundraising avenues provided to the attendees. This is important because it allowed me to understand the human aspect of the work the Rescue Mission accomplishes through the success stories of their graduates, and not just the “business” side of running a large capacity community benefit organization. Attending the benefit and the board meeting provided full-circle enlightenment that the Fresno Rescue Mission is an important key to the overall health and welfare of our community. More than ever, I am fully invested in doing the best job I can during the time I am able to spend working with the Fresno Rescue Mission.