Post from Foothold Fellow Janice L Reynoso
The other day I met with a mentor to talk about my new part-time position with Foothold Foundation as a Community Coach for Communities of Excellence. He knew I also work at YALLA San Diego, run a community garden and have other interests, so he shared some advice. He suggested, You can’t do it all. I have heard before as a director in a nonprofit organization, that we can’t do it all or be everything to everyone. For example, when talking about working for a nonprofit like YALLA San Diego, a soccer-based college preparatory program, own that is what you do, and do it well.
Certainly, following this wisdom gives room to excel and innovate deeply. It fosters creativity and progress, such as complementing sports with music and youth leadership. It makes space to determine which opportunities and resources are sustainable and those that had their moment.
I thrive on these chances to strengthen something from within and learned that makes me a social intrapreneur. Yes intra, working within existing organizations to grow vines of cross community engagement opportunities, resource sharing, and available platforms.
But working on one thing alone isn’t who I am. What sets me apart is innovating within many existing organizations. It means wearing many hats doing my thing, our thing, community gardening, refugee youth education, health advocacy, yogi, keeping it intra-sting. Then, I like to connect the vines across the community, network and seize the opportunity for growth. Not only do I look for opportunities to benefit the current programs I am involved in, but I explore if they could fit with other organizations as well.
Wanting to connect across and building from within presents a challenge. I run into many people that I have to recall what hat I was wearing when I met them. In that moment I may be representing a different organization – so it can get confusing. “Yes, I’m still at YALLA, but I’m here representing Foothold.” Or, “Oh you are from the community garden and the Resident Leadership Academy. I have heard so much about you!” I have to answer, “Yes we can definitely talk about that later, today I am here with Communities Of Excellence supporting Live Well San Diego.”
Wearing one hat and specializing in one area has its merits and I admire those who do it well. I appreciate the focus this approach has offered me in the past. But I value equally my ability to help across connected initiatives. In a time and place where there is so much need, I see my versatility, passion and creativity as positive attributes that allow me to truly serve authentically. This way I can serve individual organizations and draw connections for the bigger picture. It’s a juggling act to mention the organizations or initiatives I am working on at that particular moment. It requires balancing possible conflicts or perceived issues. But this way, I see conversations as new adventures and see where they can go. I’m learning to read expressions – to pick the right hat. But I need all of them at hand to continue making fruitful connections.