Taking it All In

Stephanie Birchfield is a Human Services Leadership major starting her senior year at UW Oshkosh. Originally from Neenah, Wisconsin, Stephanie moved to Stevens Point shortly after graduating high school to pursue a degree in Elementary Education. After spending two years studying at UWSP Stephanie realized that while she loved helping children learn, her true passion is helping those in need. As a result, Stephanie transferred to UW Oshkosh her junior year in search of a career in Human Services.

Stephanie has had the pleasure of interning at the UWSP Continuing Education office as well as volunteering at organizations such as the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade, and the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry. She is looking forward to helping others in a new setting as she begins her initial Human Services internship this fall. Follow along as Stephanie shares her experiences at the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley.

The past few weeks at the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley have been very busy and interesting. Just a few weeks ago, the Emergency Shelter hosted its 7th Annual Benefit Gala. This event brings in many different members of the community, and serves as the Shelter’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The evening included a silent auction, followed by an elegant dinner and a live auction. Previous clients of the Shelter were also invited to share their own experiences to the Gala’s attendees, detailing their stays at the Shelter and the successes they’ve experienced since they left.

I was lucky enough to help with some of the planning for the Benefit Gala, as well as actually attend the event. While the part I played in putting together the Gala was minuscule compared to the ten-months worth of planning the Shelter staff did, it was still a very good experience for me.  I never realized how many skills the Fund Development staff must possess in order to successfully raise money for a non-profit organization. Not only is the Fund Development Worker at the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley expected to apply for grants, network with potential donors and advertise the Shelter’s brand, but she is also expected to successfully plan an event that will draw in donors. This is not an easy task; it requires great amounts of creativity, networking, and multitasking abilities.

Being involved with the Benefit Gala was a great reminder of how diverse the work can be in the Human Services field. While many of the workers at the Emergency Shelter are working one-on-one with clients every day, the Fund Development Worker is working one-on-one with those community members who help keep the shelter running. It is important to realize that it takes a full team effort from various types of workers to run a successful non-profit organization. Helping out with the Gala was a great experience for me, and has helped me realize how many opportunities there are for Human Service Workers.

I have learned so much about each and every position at the Emergency Shelter; during my last few weeks as an intern, I am looking forward to having a few more sessions of shadowing different staff members to learn as much as I can about their jobs. At this point I have gotten a pretty good feel for what my strengths are in the Human Services field, but I am hoping to learn even more about myself over these last few weeks.

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