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Posts from ‘Sean Paul Fitzgerald’


My time with LEEP and the ARC (and HFH!)

The last month or so, for me, has been busy in a way that I’ve never known. Things were also made more difficult with some personal motivational challenges that I encountered and am still hoping to learn to manage appropriately as soon as possible. I’m happy to say, though, that with the help of the Red Cross team, I was able to finish my LEEP project by our deadline of September 30th.

How did it turn out?

Well in my last week we had gotten another round of feedback from the office regarding our project. There were some minor tweaks, but with an absence of any serious concerns we got the feeling that the project was ready for a “test-run”. Excitingly enough, our first official pitch would be that Friday with Nationwide Insurance—a company whose executives I was fortunate enough to meet in person and tour with throughout our chapter building earlier. Our matrix had been finalized, along with the sales decks and their very own spot on the “H-Drive” (the corporate drive in our network at the office). I played a pivotal role in the launch of our local chapter’s version of the Ready 365 project and am now handing it off to the newly assigned Relationship Manager and more experienced staff at the office to run.


I can say that my summer experience with LEEP and the American Red Cross was a great one—practical, demanding, and influential. By influential I aim to speak to the lasting impression the Red Cross has in both the local and global communities with every project it carries out. It is truly humbling to witness the compassion of this organization and the results it leads to in society. My experience has given me a more grounded perspective in my thoughts on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the role it will play in the future—or hopefully the permanent effect it will have on our future business world. Starting with my time abroad in Chile working with Habitat for Humanity until now, I’ve gotten a taste of how the non-profit sector operates and can appreciate the fact that they are a distinct entity in comparison to any for-profit company. Not only have I developed my own opinions and thoughts concerning the role business needs to play in society, but I’ve also gained several skills that will help me to realize my dream of fostering needed change.

On my last day, I made a couple last-minute tech fixes and had a nice talk with my residing Red Cross “boss” (which really never seems like the right word for her, in the text that follows you may see why). We talked about the summer, the project, the future, but also about me. She and the team have consistently made the effort to make sure I got what I wanted out of the internship and that mentality did not fade even on the last day. We got the chance to discuss the personal problems I was having (what I now believe to be a combination of burnout, homesickness, and reverse culture shock) and the steps I needed to take to address them. Her openness and concern was truly touching and has always made it hard for me to call her a “boss” instead of “teammate” or “friend”. I found a similar warmth in all my Red Cross colleagues and believe I will be hard-pressed to find a comparable environment anywhere else. Along with some advice, I got a card, a first aid kit (of course) and a small thank you (below) to take home. My LEEP experience and ARC internship may be one less thing I have to worry about but is still one thing I hope to remain apart of, whether it’s through Clark’s Fiat Lux Honor Society which hosts Red Cross blood drives, or on my own personal terms and perhaps future volunteer opportunities.


Thank you to all those who helped me! No man is an island.

Thank you to all those who helped me! I truly appreciate the experience and the support because no man is an island.


~Going into the School Year~

So most LEEP projects by now have ended or at least are in the process of ending. My time with the Red Cross though, will go until September 30th (tentatively). Unfortunately, I couldn’t meet my goals according to the timeline I had set so we agreed to work into the school year. I wouldn’t say I’m surprised this happened because of how late I started, but I’m a little distressed still.

That’s not to say though that I haven’t made any progress. In fact, going in only one day a week has forced me to focus completely on our project for those few hours on Wednesday and we’ve been able to hash out a much more refined benefits matrix along with a rough sales deck (presentation) for some of our board members and other trusted corporate partners to review. Awaiting some feedback, the next step is to finalize the materials and share it with our other colleagues in the office. After also reporting to NHQ and sharing out work with other ARC offices, we will then go right into pitching. The goal is to get this “on the road” as soon as possible so we can start getting feedback from our other donors. Like some team members have said to me, if you don’t put an ending date and time on a project—it’ll never end. So for right now, September 30th is my deadline.

I’ll keep you all posted as to what progress we make!


ARC Golf Tournament (one of them)


These are some of the pictures I promised.


Held at The International, we as interns and Red Cross staff were lucky enough explore one of New England’s premiere golf courses. Heralded as one of the US’ 50 Toughest Gold Courses, the ARC had to raise a hefty amount to reserve it for the day. In the end, however, the work and investment seemed to be worth the trouble.


And there was some trouble. As with any event, we came across some obstacles like the absence of promised funding/donations, late arrivals, and of course, the weather. Late in the afternoon, the beautiful sunny day turned into something unexpected—before I knew it, the roof of my golf cart wasn’t doing much good with the rain coming in at my from the sides.


The inclement weather led to a slight delay in game but fortunately we were able to push through it all. It was a long day and I know an even longer one for those who needed to stay after to clean up (thank to those specific Red Cross volunteers and International staff). It was very nice, though, to see much of my fellow intern’s work come to fruition. Not only Holly who put in a lot of time to the tournament set-up, but also Allegra who got the chance to table for her Measles Initiative. I don’t know if the end result of my project will be so physically manifested, but I do look forward to getting the same kind of relief I saw in their faces!


Before the rain hit!

What’s even better is what I found upon returning to my office that next week. Posted all around the office was our fiscal year statistics that showed how successful we were in attaining our annual goals! If you look closely, you can see that our goal was raised by NHQ several times and we were still able to surpass expectations. This is truly representative of the experience that the Central and Western MA branch has and I’m curious to see how the addition of the Ready 365 Corporate Partnership program will change things for the coming year.




Ready 365 Program and the Infamous Benefits Matrix

I’m now a few weeks into the internship and having really gotten acclimated to the workplace. There is no shortage of work since I started late as is and I’ve also  had a lot of technical difficulties (continuing technical difficulties at the moment) so I can’t say I’ve been loyal to my commitment to provide regular updates. I have made, though, a considerable dent in my workload and have a brand new laptop charger on its way to my apartment.

Right now its most important that I get you guys up to speed. Some reflections so far:

  • The workplace-a great office with an even greater team. I’m on the Development Team and have been working really closely with the Executive Director Janet Warren who is really supportive and excited herself.
  • The workload-has been appropriately challenging. Sometimes I find myself a little overwhelmed but its never anything I can’t handle. I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance so far to dabble in so many different areas including finances, development, and actual donation asks. I depend on my team but there is also plenty of room for independence and self-reliance.
  • The project-my principal project for my experience at the ARC (American Red Cross; I’ve realized that the “ARC” loves acronyms and I actually had to find a list of them to review just to understand certain texts!) is the Ready 365 Program–named so to represent the issue the Red Cross and many other non-profits have in receiving, for the most part, episodic donations when it actually takes a constant income to operate annually. The Red Cross is stressing to corporations that we need money not only to operate predictably, but also to respond to disasters in the most prepared manner…365 days a year. I’m working on an annual corporate donor program that is more apt for the market size/donor pool of our chapter. This involves taking from the national example and more specific ones from different chapters across the country. I worked with Janet (I’ve also come to use first names much more) to see what fits us best and establish three different giving levels at 10, 25, and 50 K giving levels. With this comas a matrix, we say, of benefits that we could offer donors at each level. This matrix has taken most of my time so far and tomorrow will actually be my first formal opportunity to sort of “pitch” it to the team…or at least those I haven’t already talked with.

I’ve helped the other Clark interns Holly and Allegra with some of their projects too and actually have some pics I would love to share from a recent Golf Tournament. Right now though I want to stay focused on the matrix that I’ve come to know so well and see what feedback and reaction I get from the rest of the Development Team tomorrow!

I’m doing my best to keep you all in the loop! The Red Cross is a place full of understanding people and I hope that you’re so considerate. Pictures to come!


Back to the US!

My time in Chile has come to a close (for now). I’ll be heading back home in a few days and will start work officially at the Red Cross in almost a week.

I’ve been keeping up with emails not only from my LEEP contact and advisors, but also from the other Clark interns. They have already begun their projects and I’m beginning to see how much work I have to catch up on when I get back. It hasn’t deterred me though, since I recently experienced the completion of my Habitat for Humanity internship and know how much I stand to gain with this upcoming opportunity.

It was tough saying goodbye, much tougher than I thought it would be. I felt and still feel a very strong connection with the people I worked with and am glad I found such a dedicated team. I learned more about how to effectively collaborate and share ideas, how to work across different cultural values and standards to achieve a common goal, and how frustrating it can be to commute through the city with an umbrella (we had a couple rainy days and they were probably the most frustrating thing about my time with HFH). Obviously some things I learned are more important than others, but I hope it all serves me as a Red Cross intern. I’ve managed to compile some preliminary questions for my team and choose a work schedule as well as check out some more of their social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and their blog.

I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and will keep you guys updated every step of the way!


The American Red Cross…sound familiar?

I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such a prestigious organization this summer. As a Communications and Development Intern, I’ll focus on acquiring new donors and encouraging past ones to give annually. In addition, I plan to educate corporate donors on the variety of programs they can support within the Red Cross, network with other Red Cross locations to identify and replicate best practices, and develop a comprehensive menu of opportunities and create support pieces for local corporate involvement among other things…a lot of other things actually.

With such a demanding position and a shortened summer (due to my current term abroad), I’m hoping that this blog will help to keep me on track. I’m also hoping that everyone reading this blog will gain something from my experiences too. I plan to predict, prognosticate, review, and reflect on different events and challenges and invite you all to join in. I appreciate any sort of input or information and will be sure to share my personal opinions and even opportunities that may be of interest.


To introduce myself…

I’m a double-major in Management and Spanish and am interested in pursuing International Business or Political Science/International Relations. On campus I serve as President of the Clark Ballroom Dance Team and Club, VP of Clark University Brothers and Sisters, and am eager to begin working with the Fiat Lux and G&P Honor Societies next semester. I am studying in Santiago, Chile and have about 1 1/2 months left to learn all that I can.

I return to Worcester on July 15th and will have to get started working right away. By then I actually plan to have already done some preliminary research and preparation online but can’t say there will be many substantial updates until then. Here in Santiago, I’m working with Habitat for Humanity to contact possible donors, network with international offices, improve their social media image …many of the same responsibilities I will have working as a LEEP Pioneer. This does mean I’ll be hard-pressed for time but it also means that I’ll be gaining valuable practice.

For now I urge you to please check out Central and Western Massachusetts’ Red Cross website and the general homepage! I learned from a couple of volunteer orientation videos and some personal exploration that the Red Cross has a long and rich history that would interest anyone. Plus, with the recent trouble in Oklahoma, we need the help and attention.

Visit my other blog in case you want to read more about my time abroad or HFH. Thanks for your time and look out for the next post!

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