Speakers tell the benefits of working for nonprofit

A panel of speakers involved in nonprofit organizations held an event Monday to discuss the journeys of being involved in such profound work.

The event was held in the Halle Library auditorium and was hosted by the Nonprofit Leadership
Alliance at Eastern Michigan University. NLA has sought to recruit more people to help with the cause for volunteering, and those hoping to eventually work for a nonprofit organization.

Eastern Michigan University graduate assistant Colleen Cartwright of the NLA gave her insights on what it is like to do nonprofit work, and how one can become involved in nonprofit organizations.
Cartwright is a Master of Fine Arts student in applied drama and theatre for the young. She joined the NLA in the fall of 2013.

“Vitally, it’s important to repeat projects,” she said.

Cartwright said volunteer experience can lead to leadership roles in the future.

“I will never stop working in my community especially to meet young people that are starting this journey,” she said.

Cartwright also said that her journey within a nonprofit sector, from a management perspective, has empowered her to learn as much as she can. She seeks out many people to come together to help with social issues. She also promoted recruitment of younger people to help within their societies.

Laura Pipis is the current CEO of the American Red Cross of Monroe County. She majored in accounting, but she felt like there was something missing. She really couldn’t picture herself interacting with numbers and not interacting with people.

She enjoyed working with other agencies when it came down to assisting with disaster-planning issues. She also helped with housing issues.

“I empowered people to find affordable housing,” she said. “And I really enjoyed that.”

Pipis also talked about how it is important to educate people about nonprofit organizations and the issues they cover. She encourages people to join the nonprofit world.

“Doing significant volunteer work is a great thing,” she said, “even if you choose another career.”

She also said people can give back to their community by volunteering.

“I try to preach that as much as possible,” Pipis said.

Although she went in to accounting, Pipis couldn’t see herself crunching numbers all day.

“I found my niche because every day it’s a challenge,” she said of nonprofit work. “An exciting challenge. There’s never a dull moment. I get to meet lots of great people. It’s good to know that you’re helping people when their world has been upended and devastated.”

Olivia Mateso Mbala-Nkanga said she knew she wanted to do something for humanity while on her journey from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She left behind a lot of friends who had deceased mothers and families in shambles. She recalls when she was on the boat.

“I remember thinking to myself, I am going to go back and I am going to build a shelter to help those women become stronger,” she said. “That was just the decision I made.”

At that time, she never thought of the nonprofit sector.

“I just knew that my job was to be in service to others,” she said. “I am going to work to help other people become stronger.”

To get involved with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, call 734-487-1612, or email nonprofit@emich.edu.

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