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Posts from ‘Brenna Merrill’


How a Hole Punch Becomes a Friend

Catch-Up Post #2

My friend and I wrote this Haiku after I expressed not knowing what to blog about. Sometimes, work is just work and while interesting it may feel as though it does not need to be commented on. Similarly, sometimes you write a haiku and realize you inversed the syllable count. Oops. Drum roll….

“These holes are in the paper.

They exist,

to be bound in a binder.”

What was I doing with paper and a binder, you ask? Well, let me tell you:

As one of my projects in the Fund Development department, I got to make grant books. I made one that is focused on all of the school-year in-house programs (this includes things like Leadership Academy, Basketball League, and Swim Lessons). The second included grants for summer programs, school hosted programs (ie not taking place at the Winthrop House), and general and miscellaneous grants. I then duplicated these binders twice to make a total of three sets.

Emptying the hole punch tray after a day's hard work.

Emptying the hole punch tray after a day’s hard work.

On the most basic level, this means I became friends with the electric hole punch. I could stick in a stack of papers and zoom zoom zoom all se t for the binders! During the one day stint where the AC was not working in the office, I also came to adore the downstairs photocopier (where it was much cooler). Though, to be fair, how could you not love it; it printed fast and never seemed to jam!

Aside from the leg work of assembling these binders, I had the more exciting opportunity to create a cover sheet for each grant funded program that described – among other things – the target audience, the outcomes we are meant to be measuring, and the due dates for the reports.

grant books

The grant books after being compiled. Each section is labeled with a post-it note.

To do so, I skimmed (which often turned into reading) through grant narratives. I learned about gang activity in Worcester and the impact of bullying. I read through grants that focused on sexual health, enhancing a girl’s exposure to STEM, and promoting fitness through a family step-a-thon. I saw how the United Way facilitated different community organizations in coming together to best serve youth throughout Worcester. I discovered so much of the city that I’ve lived in for almost four years, and I have found so much inspiration for impactful community youth work.



Anybody out there? Yes, hi.

Hey friends.

Yes, I am still alive. No, my computer did not survive the summer. But good news – I was finally able to get my blog post drafts off of my netbook (may he rest in peace) and I’m here to share them with you all! So, enjoy the post mini-explosion!


Catch-up Post #1

Let me catch you up for a second.

I work three days a week at Girls Inc: two in the office on various projects and one at camp. This marks the fourth week Super Camp has been running. I have had the opportunity to work with camp counselors and girls in both the Peeps group (1st-3rd graders) and Tween (4th-6th graders). Every week there is a different theme with specific projects – such as painting with kool-aid, showing the moon phases with oreos, making icecream in a Ziploc bag, and making “baby caterpillars” as a health snack. Daily activities such as swimming and summer reading also occur.

Today, I went with the Peeps to the Ecotarium. Woo! I was super stoked for the trip, never having been there myself. There were some really cool exhibits – ones I want to go back for and actually read and look at – like the whole section on dinosaurs and the Koala Maze. My day, however, was focused more on watching and counting and re-counting the group of girls that I was with as they climbed through the rabbit hole into the Alice and Wonderland exhibit and while they took repeated turns in a “hurricane” wind tunnel. It was most certainly a long day, especially with the heat (on my walk home from the Y later, the church at the intersection of King and Main Streets said it was 103 – though I think that is an over exaggeration). After snack, the first hour back at Winthrop House was spent playing freeze dance and doing line dances.

My day with the campers taught me three really important things.

  1. While I was watching some of these girls I tried to think back about who I was at a similar age. I know what I thought of myself at the time but I have no idea how the adult me would have viewed the seven year old me. I got to thinking how difficult it must be to be an elementary school teacher – to teach and (ideally) be a critical educator. I have so much respect for the field and for all of those who work to help children, adolescence, and adults believe in themselves.
  2. I am no longer hip. I do not know the boom-snap-clap-snap-shh thing. I was told my dance moves were weird. I even do the ChaChaSlide wrong (though my post-work case studies on my friends suggest that it is more of a regional difference than age based)! I am currently worried for what the rest of my life may bring.
  3. Some people are really gifted in their ability to communicate. As one of our girls went from high energy to detached and sad; another waited for her at the end of the line to check up on her. She asked her what was wrong and allowed her peer to not share if she so chose. Upon being told that she didn’t want to talk about why she was upset, the girl who initiated the conversation said okay and stated that she would still like to sit with her on the bus ride home if that was okay and that she could agree to that later if she’d like. That, right there, is true friendship. That girl is a leader and an example. I wonder if she even knows.

College Shower

Hey again!

Did you think I forgot about you? No worries, I didn’t. I just live in an apartment without internet and sometimes I forget Clark-far isn’t really that far and I should just walk my legs on over to the AC. Anyway.

My time at Girls Inc is divided in two between working in development (think grant writing and fundraising) and communication & volunteers (think marketing and public programs). In a few short weeks I will also help with summer programs.

Graduation cap boxes! Filled with a survival kit. Each girl's college was displayed on front. There were two future Clarkies!

Graduation cap boxes! Filled with a survival kit. Each girl’s college was displayed on front. There were two future Clarkies!

Because of this split, I have spent a day and a half for the past four weeks working on last night’s College Shower. This is an event many Girls Inc organizations have for their graduating seniors, and through the generosity of the University of Phoenix Boston Campus the Worcester affiliate has been able to put on for a second year in a row. The idea behind the event is to celebrate young women who have excelled and are making the life transition to college in a similar manner that others have showers before motherhood or a wedding.

To this end, the College Shower centered on honoring the accomplishments of these girls in the presence of their friends, family, and community leaders. There were speeches, and cake, and lots of smiles. Each student was also provided with supplies for her upcoming year at a new school  (receiving items including bedding, a nook, and a $50 gift card to Staples).

Clarkie Stephanie and I masterfully crafted that balloon wall in the back. And Clarkie Maya helped to place those centerpieces and rolo caps on the tables. :)

Clarkie Stephanie and I masterfully crafted that balloon wall in the back. while Clarkie Maya helped to place those centerpieces and rolo caps on the tables.


My job for the event was to figure out the decorations and help with some logistics. I created the program, worked on centerpieces, and spent most of my days doing paper crafts. If I were not already in love with Pinterest, this assignment sure made my affections stronger.  :)  With the help of my fellow interns (shout out to 5th-yr Clarkie Michelle for her excellent ribbon making and hot glue skills) decorations were wonderfully made!

P.S. if you ever need a Clarkie, just go to Girls Inc. They all seem to be in the intern office!


a post with one too many promises

Hi All!!

I bet you’re all excited that summer is finally here – I know I am! I turned in my last assignment of the semester this afternoon, which is fitting with the beautiful weather that sprang upon Worcester today. Though, I can hardly believe that I am now finished with my junior year of college. Where did the time go? I couldn’t even tell you.

Well, maybe I could. In short, I am a Political Science (American Politics & Public Policy) major with an Urban Development and Social Change concentration. Last fall I had the super amazing opportunity to study abroad in Australia. Now I am here in Worcester, blogging for all you internet readers, and completing an internship at Girls Inc (which I am SUPER excited for). I had my Very First Day on Tuesday, but I still don’t know everything I’ll be doing yet which is why I am holding off telling you about it (hopefully next week).  I think I did find my favourite view of Worcester though, on my walk back. Maybe I’ll bring a camera next time so I can show you. And yes I think it may rival the views you can get from the library.

I am very blessed to be able to work here this summer, as a LEEP Pioneer and also as a Lois and Robert Green Summer Intern. I think that is one of the best things about Clark University. If you have initiative and if you work hard, you can create your own opportunities. Things may not go exactly how you imagined them, but in a sense doesn’t that make it better?

<3 Brenna

p.s. I promise I will never use quite so many links again. Pinky swear!

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