Strangerhood to Neighborhood

Our experiences today at Everyday Cafe reaffirmed my passions and goals for nonprofits. It was amazing to see how they were able to make an industry to completely transform their communities. I was completely mind-blown how the individuals behind the Oasis Project helped to provide community and economic development to Homewood. I have heard several times that neighborhoods are important to Pittsburgh, but it really showed through today. Even though Homewood was only one square mile, they still loved it as their home and wanted to see it transform and grow. Dr. Wallace explained to us that their goal is not to maximize profit and they do not have a set “success” number to be achieved. Rather, they value their success in the improvement of their neighborhoods, the educations to their children, and the employment of their citizens.

Have a business with a social purpose definitely poses its challenges: hiring individuals who may not be as suited for the job, difficulty towards revenue and business improvement. But, all profit and expenses aside, I believe the benefits outweigh the challenges. Going to work knowing you are going to make an impact and that your work has value and meaning to others is far greater motivation (at least for me) that any dollar figure could give me.

The different branches of their project extension to were also very fascinating as well because they all tie in. Their education transportation company helps drive children to local museums in the area, which promote local organizations, which funds back into the community. Their farm and fishery kitchen gives their children a unique education in the field and it also provides food sources to go back into the cafe. All of the tie-ins between their projects all go back into improving their community in creative ways. Seeing their business platform, I would definitely go back and buy coffee from their store because I love supporting businesses who serve a purpose and aim to give back.

In addition to this trip today, we also had a guest speaker in class. Focusing on social entrepreneurship and economic development in developing countries, she worked with us on thinking of ideas on how to make changes to solve major economic problems like poverty or inequality. One of the interesting discussions she presented today was that many people in these developing countries have the similar technologies and smartphones that we have today. This was definitely a surprising statement since most of us are under the impression most of these resources are not present in these countries. Hearing about how to improve developing counties again made me happy to think about a career and a future where I can help in some way to major issues like these.

All-in-all, today was a strong career reassurance day. I love hearing about different social projects and non-profits that aim to serve different individuals. There are so many different problems, injustices, and issues facing our world and I hope to learn more during the trip on how I can help to serve with my skills.