So…what am I even doing this summer?

It’s my first official week at FMF and I honestly couldn’t be more excited about what the summer holds. Yesterday, when I walked into the office for the first day I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I worked from 12-8pm, and while I’ve never been on a work shift for 8 hours before, the time flew by. First off, my boss for the summer is a remarkable woman. I walked into FMF just as she was zipping between meetings, yet she still made time to sit down, and go over my summer plans, what the internship will look like, and offered me the invite to sit in on her team meeting later that afternoon. After the team meeting, where I got to formally introduce myself to some of my coworkers for the summer, as well as hear about each of their projects and current tasks they are working on, FMF programming started.

Programming for FMF is one of the major components to their model of emergency shelter and care for homeless families. They have programming Monday-Thursday from 6:30-7:30, in which they have separate events, lessons, and activities for adults, teenagers, adolescents, toddlers, and even babies to do. My supervisor is the head honcho of this, overseeing not only the volunteers from varying religious based groups and locals who come to serve dinner, or help out with the children programming, but also helping to get speakers and programs for the parents and adults living in the shelter to participate in. Last night, she brought over a representative from Durham Tech, the local community college in the city to discuss workforce options, technical skills classes, GED completion, and college courses to the parents and teens.

After being in FMF during the day, and getting a glimpse of what the office team does, I was also able to see the programming at night. I was put in the baby room yesterday, helping to watch children 0-2 years old in one of FMF’s playrooms, while their parents and guardians attended the Durham Tech info session. I honestly couldn’t have been happier. I love working with kids, and one of the reasons I wanted to be at FMF was that I wanted to get a feel for how a nonprofit runs on the day to day, but also get to work with families hands-on, talking to guests, helping out with programming, and assisting volunteers who bring meals, or donations. Yesterday was the perfect combination of that, and I am doing the same for the rest of this week. I’m excited that my summer schedule will be giving me a mix of this, since not only did it make the time fly by at the end of the day, it also is something that is “right up my alley.”

In the future, I’ll be incorporating a research component for my daytime tasks at FMF, talking to families who have left the shelter, completed their 12 months of after-care with a FMF staff member. I’ll be seeing where these families are at now, how they are doing, and what they thought about their experiences as a whole both during, and after their stay at FMF. The goal is to use these interviews to see what new policies or programming can FMF do to strengthen their aftercare, including the possibility of extending the time of aftercare, to providing more programming, or other wishes former guests would like to see in place. I also will be a steady force in the baby room during evening programming, but also will be volunteering with the girl scout troop that meets on the weekends, as well as helping to coordinate some teenage-appropriate programming so that they don’t always have to be lumped into the adult workshops. I’m excited for what’s to come next, but so far, it’s been pretty good.  

Sloan Talbot is a rising senior from Ypsilanti, Michigan majoring in Cultural Anthropology with a Certificate in Ethics & Society. She is one of seven fellows in the Kenan Purpose Program

Sloan is a passionate advocate for greater access to resources for historically disadvantaged groups. At Duke, she is deeply involved in creating a community for first-generation college students. She is hoping to discern whether non-profit work is a possible career avenue for her this summer with Families Moving Forward, an innovative organization supporting families attempting to transition out of homelessness.

Sloan Talbot is an undergraduate student researcher, a participant of Kenan’s Summer Purpose Program, Freshman Focus, Duke Immerse, SuWA, and Citizenship Lab.

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