Amanda’s Letter

Amanda Alexandre (Long Beach, NY /Susquehanna University ‘17)

Amanda Alexandre, a native of Long Beach, NY, completed her undergraduate degree at Susquehanna University with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. During her time in school, she was a Global Ambassador Intern, supporting international students’ transition to a new culture and providing academic advice. She also raised donations to help build houses in Snyder County with Habitat for Humanity.  In her free time, Amanda practices yoga and meditation.  She also enjoys running, reading, crocheting, and traveling. She is a part of the East End cohort, and is serving at the Crossroads Foundation.

Recently, Amanda wrote this letter of support to invite others to join in supporting next year’s group of PULSE fellows.

“Dear Friends…

This time last year, I was overjoyed because I knew that at 22 I had an opportunity to leave a lasting impact on others through PULSE. PULSE cultivates a community of young servant leaders to positively influence some of the most vulnerable people and nonprofit organizations in Pittsburgh.

It is Spring again, and somehow, my year of service with PULSE is less than two months away from ending. With the support I have had from coworkers and the PULSE community, these past nine months have been a greater experience than for which I could have hoped for. Through PULSE, I have had the chance to live in an intentional community, to immerse myself in the city and grow as a leader, and to serve in a nonprofit organization, Crossroads Foundation, for 35 hours a week.

It is empowering to be among 32 young adults participating and believing in organizations that improve the lives of others. I am fortunate to live with four incredible other Fellows and hear about the trail they are paving at their organizations at the end of the day; their works ranges from serving at an environmental charter school, an age friendly organization, a nonprofit that serves people with disabilities, and one that helps foster a bond between mothers who have lost a child and a mother who is in need of donations of breast milk to keep their premature baby alive.

PULSE pushes us to be better individuals through weekly seminars led by local leaders and our diverse group of talented Fellows on relevant or controversial topics such as gentrification in Pittsburgh. PULSE also provides us with professional networking events and opportunities to explore local organizations like our local coffee shops, and many more.

Other ways I have been able to grow is by having a mentor in PULSE and a career coaching group. In addition to growing professionally, PULSE encourages us to join communities and organizations that relate to our passion; for this reason, I volunteer at an organization called Literacy Pittsburgh that focuses on teaching English to people of all walks of life living in Pittsburgh as refugees or professionals. Through this experience, I have gotten to know an incredible couple from China that I tutor English to twice a week.

Of course, the best part of being a PULSE Fellow is working with vulnerable youth at Crossroads Foundation. It is unaccountably rewarding to work with these young adults whose living experiences reflect my own at that age. Crossroads provides an equitable education to low-income high school students by sending them to one of our six partnering Catholic high schools in Pittsburgh. Aside from funding their high quality Catholic education, our students have a Crossroads Counselor at school to help with academic, social, and personal obstacles. Finally, we guide our scholars’ parents along their high school and college journey by hosting workshops and events to prepare them for their child’s continued education. I am privileged to take part in making a difference in these youths’ lives by coordinating and facilitating events to help guide their parents in their transitional period. Through my direct service role, I am able to go to the high schools to meet with our junior and senior scholars to prepare them for college, and to also offer support to those in their first year of college by checking in during their semester.

The most rewarding part of my job at Crossroad Foundation is seeing many of our first-generation college students beginning to hope for their future. I have seen students’ progress from being hesitant to meet with me in the beginning of my service year to thanking me for getting them to where they needed to be. Out of our 31 seniors, all of them have gotten accepted to a college or a university and will be attending some of the most well-known schools in the country such as Carnegie Mellon University, American University, Northeastern University, Howard University, and many more. As I imagine my future, I know I want my career to mimic my experience this past year. No matter the path I choose, I hope it will be filled with the same joy of making a positive change in our youths’ future, and with the contentment of knowing they will continue to pass it forward.

I am beyond grateful to have had an amazing year of service with PULSE after graduating from Susquehanna. This experience was only possible due to my PULSE predecessor raising enough money to allow the next generation of Fellows to share this opportunity with our housing, meals, and transportation covered for the year.

If you are able, would you please consider donating to PULSE so this amazing experience may be offered to another deserving individual? As a team, we are so close to our goal of raising enough money to support the incoming cohort and I am asking for your help to assist me in passing this forward.

An experience like this starts with people like you. In supporting PULSE, you support not only the Fellows, like the one I have become, but also to the school students whom I serve today, and whom I once was. I could not be here without people like you. Thank you for impacting my life in the many ways that you have.

Sincerely,

Amanda Alexandre

17-18 PULSE Participant”

The goal is within reach.  $80K of $85K, 95% has been raised by the current PULSE fellows. 

Will you consider joining us as we work together to help Amanda and the PULSE fellows reach their goal?

Every gift matters.  Every gift counts.

DONATE TODAY!

Alumni Story: Rebecca Dyck

Rebecca Dyck is a 2013-2014 PULSE alumnae., and joined PULSE for a second year in 2014-2015. In this interview she discusses her experiences in PULSE in regards to creating community, developing leadership skills, serving in Pittsburgh.

What about the PULSE program was attractive to you? Was there anything about it that surprised you?

I decided to do PULSE after I finished my undergrad degree because I was still searching for what career path I wanted to pursue. I was looking for an opportunity to gain experience in the non-profit sector and explore my interests, and PULSE was the perfect way to do this.

What was the best part of your PULSE experience?

The relationships I built with my fellow PULSErs were the best part of my PULSE experience. Through shared meals, exploring Pittsburgh together, and good conversations I developed lifelong friendships, had tonnes of fun, and learned a lot about myself. Shout-out to PULSE years 13-14 and 14-15!

 

What did the PULSE experience teach you about yourself?

My time serving with non-profits through PULSE taught me about my strong abilities to be effective in the workplace. Coming out of PULSE, I knew the value I could bring to an organization and how I could be an agent for change.

What kind of work do you do now?

I am currently a gradate student, about to finish my Masters of Public Policy degree at the University of Toronto. My capstone research project is focused on how to use policy to advance gender equity in Canada.

 

Story by PULSE.  Read more Alumni Stories.

Partner Story: Southwestern Pennsylvania Partnership for Aging (SWPPA)

Southwestern Pennsylvania Partnership for Aging (SWPPA) is a 27-year-old, volunteer-led organization with over 300 members who represent over one million older adults across 10 counties of Southwestern Pennsylvania. They act as a catalyst to promote policy, program and systems change that improves quality of life for all people, particularly for our oldest generations. They provide a neutral forum for collaboration, education, networking and advocacy.

Laura Poskin is the Director of Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh, an initiative of SWPPA. In the following interview, she speaks about the experience of partnering with PULSE.

CC: Why did your organization decide to work with PULSE?

LP: We love the kind of engaged, community-minded leadership PULSE promotes, and we really needed help getting Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh off the ground! We knew that PULSE could help us build capacity—in the form of a smart, passionate, nearly full-time staffer —around the work.

CC: What is the most rewarding part of working with PULSE?

LP: I love learning about all of the organizations and projects involved! It’s awesome to be in this network that’s all about building a brighter, healthier, more inclusive tomorrow for Pittsburgh.

CC: How has your partnership with PULSE impacted your organization?

LP: Our partnership with PULSE has allowed us to grow in ways we couldn’t have imagined just months ago. Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh, an initiative of SWPPA, is part of the World Health Organization’s international Network of Age-Friendly Communities, but it’s brand new to this area. We’re basically a start-up! PULSE has helped our small team work at maximum capacity, and connect with other organizations that care about livable communities for all ages and abilities.

CC: What do you like most about your current PULSE follow and/or other fellows you’ve worked with?

LP: Our current PULSE fellow Shayna is so fantastic. How do I even pick what I like most?! I will have to go with her sincere passion for the work. Shayna hit the ground running when she started working on Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh. Her studies and background fit so perfectly with our mission, which is something we learned (and were blown away by) in her interview. PULSE fellows are passionate people who truly care—about a multitude of issues. What’s cool is that through the matching process, fellows and organizations find their way to each other through that passion. We couldn’t have dreamed of a better fit. More specifics about Shayna that reveal other superhero qualities: She’s an excellent communicator, a driven self-starter and a fast learner who goes above and beyond until a project is complete.

CC: What would you tell other Pittsburgh nonprofits about PULSE?

LP: PULSE is an incredible asset to your organization and to Pittsburgh. PULSE attracts top talent from across the country—except it’s more than “talent.” It’s talent combined with passion, creativity and community mindfulness. I’d say they are our future leaders, but the truth is PULSE selects people who are already leaders. The program is an opportunity for us to learn from each other and create the Pittsburgh we want to see.

Check out more great Partner Stories.

This is part of a series of posts about the Nonprofit Partner experience with PULSE. If you would like to learn more about a Nonprofit Partnership, please visit our Partner Page.

 

Alumni Story: Jenna Baron

Jenna Baron is a 2014-2015 PULSE alumnae. In this interview she discusses her experiences in PULSE in regards to creating community, developing leadership skills, serving in Pittsburgh.

What about the PULSE program was attractive to you? Was there anything about it that surprised you?

I had only lived in Pittsburgh as a Pitt student, so I was excited that PULSE would give me the opportunity to experience the city in a new, professional way.

What was the best part of your PULSE experience?

The best part of the experience was living with the 3 other fellows at Beatty house. We had a lot of late nights reminiscing on our college days and freaking out together about our next steps in life. I’m still so grateful for those memories and our friendship.

How were you impacted by your PULSE experience?

The opportunity to work at the United Way was invaluable. I continued working there for 2 years after my PULSE year and I got to learn so much about non-profits, grant making, and collaborating with partners. I also made a lot of really close friends who help me on regular basis with running ARYSE.

How did PULSE prepare you for what you are doing now?

I’m the executive director of an organization called Alliance for Refugee Youth Support and Education. We organize programs that support immigrant and refugee youth living in Allegheny County. As an ED of a start-up organization, I pretty much do everything – development and fundraising, program development and management, financial management, and establishing a foundation and culture for the organization that reflects our values.

 

Story by PULSE.  Read more Alumni Stories.

Partner Story: Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank

Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank recognizes the importance of breast milk to optimize the health and well-being of all babies, especially medically vulnerable infants. When mothers’ own milk is unavailable, Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank provides donor human milk, which is collected and processed according to the guidelines set forth by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. They also aim to facilitate research and education in human lactation.

Denise O’Connor is the Founder and Executive Director of Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank. In the following interview, she speaks about the experience of partnering with PULSE.

CC: Why did your organization decide to work with PULSE?

DO: We heard wonderful things about the program from other non-profits. The milk bank is a startup organization and PULSE seemed like an excellent way to help build capacity. We love the idea of having young adults just starting their careers learning about donor milk too.

CC: What is the most rewarding part of working with PULSE?

DO: Working with Koehler! Our PULSE Fellow is a perfect match for our organization. We have benefited greatly from her skills. She brings a fresh perspective too. Throughout her time with us we have coordinated opportunities for her to shadow clinicians and have other experiences that will benefit her as she makes career decisions.

CC: How has your partnership with PULSE impacted your organization?

DO: It has allowed us to build capacity and visibility.

CC: What do you like most about your current PULSE follow and/or other fellows you’ve worked with?

DO: Koehler is an extremely intelligent and motivated employee that quickly became an important member of our team. Her most prized skill is the ability to autonomously lead new projects- a must in a startup environment like this!

CC: What would you tell other Pittsburgh nonprofits about PULSE?

DO: Apply! You will not regret it. Wonderful program.

Check out more great Partner Stories.

This is part of a series of posts about the Nonprofit Partner experience with PULSE. If you would like to learn more about a Nonprofit Partnership, please visit our Partner Page.

 

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