Nonprofits: Because You’re Worth It!

Nonprofits: Because You’re Worth It!

This may seem a little out of my realm, since I’ve mostly done reviews for various television shows, films, comic books (etc), but since I was presented with an opportunity to share my experiences with nonprofits in another class, I could carry it on over to my blog for editing and publishing. After all, the semester is winding down, and life lessons are to be had.

Over the past semester, I have worked with two nonprofit organizations. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks’ (BBBSO) goal is to pair children facing adversity with positive, adult role models to change the children’s lives for the better, forever.

When one of BBBSO’s employees moved on, Katie Davis, the CEO, immediately pulled me away from the marketing/communication aspect of the job and had me start applying for and researching grants. Before BBBSO, I had never written a grant; I had never even read a grant for that matter. Fortunately, Katie lent a guiding hand and I built off grants BBBSO applied for in the past. After this experience, I can suggest two valuable tips:

1)     Be Concise

2)     If they ask for a specific word count (i.e. less than 1,000 words), you reach that mark, no matter what.

This means making every word count. With every sentence, the person reading your grant needs to be able to understand why the organization is worth it. Basically, with grants, you’re a L’oreal girl and you better make them believe it.

I can’t call my grant writing a success yet; getting one approved doesn’t outweigh the several BBBSO hasn’t heard back from yet. But I certainly have my fingers crossed that will change.

Working with the other nonprofits was an entirely different and less satisfying experience. After meeting with representatives from two organizations, my teammate, Kaitlyn, and I decided we would complete three things: 1) a logo for an upcoming event 2) brochure revisions and 3) a reconstruction of the website.

The first nonprofit provided us with an excellent contact. As we worked on the logo, she used our time wisely, replied to our emails in a timely fashion, and told us exactly what she wanted.

The finished product:

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However, Kaitlyn and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed when we saw the finished product. Part of the logo was missing and we felt we could have been more creative with the design. Of course, we learned a lesson the hard way: you can’t choose what an organization uses – you can only make suggestions.

We then started trying to communicate with the other nonprofit. Earlier, we had requested additional photos and information for the website and brochures. We were in the homestretch with nothing to work off of. I was used to receiving a reply within a day; with this nonprofit, our contact rarely replied within a week. At this point, even though we may complete the brochures, we have come to the realization that our third goal, the website renovation, will certainly not happen.

The real difference between BBBSO and the other nonprofits lies in the fact that BBBSO utilized my time and skills effectively. Communication was such a key tool here; even simply answering an email or phone call within a couple days instead of a week could cause a giant leap in our progress. It seems so simple, but it certainly makes the difference.

 

Happily Never After? A Graphic Novel Review of Fables: Legends in Exile

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Over the past few years, I’ve read a few graphic comic books recommended by one of my good friends. Since last year, he’s been talking about this series of comics called Fables, written by Bill Willingham and published by Vertigo Comics.

In these stories, fairytales are real, not every princess found an everlasting happily ever after, and the villains of the past have reformed. After facing an enemy, various characters have been exiled to our world into a place called Fabletown, buried inside of New York City. The Adversary is never specifically named, other than a tyrant who dominated the Fable world land by land. The first volume hints at the destruction of their old world and eventually reclaiming their lands; it makes me curious to see if these Fables start a war of epic proportions.

The fictional characters who survived the tirade integrate among the humans (or “Mundys/Mundanes” as they’re called) and those who are unable to blend in live at The Farm in upstate New York. Other than finding out that The Farm is a rather detestable place, the reader doesn’t know much, and the story focuses more in on the other characters, living amongst the human race.

In the first volume, Snow White is Deputy Mayor of the city of Fabletown, and boy is she a piece of work. She and Prince Charming have split, due to his infidelity with her sister Rose Red, and Snow White possesses a sharp tongue and little appreciation for others. When Bigby (A.K.A. the former Big Bad Wolf) tells Snow White her sister is the victim of a violent crime, Miss White immediately latches onto the case.

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Bigby, who has the ability to appear human, is as rough around the edges as Snow White. He too has suffered for hundreds of years, but fortunately he’s found his niche as the Fabletown sheriff. From the get-go, the reader gets the idea that Bigby is sharper than the average wolf and possibly has the case solved from the minute he leaves Rose Red’s blood-streaked apartment. He accuses Rose’s boyfriend, Jack (yes, the one from the Beanstalk) as well as Bluebeard, who is a renowned nobleman with an affinity for slaughtering his wives and who was previously involved with Rose Red. There is something under the surface, however, and you realize that Bigby is not letting on all he knows. Throughout the story, the reader is also introduced to recognizable fairytale figures, like a divorced and ass-kicking Cinderella and the distraught couple we once knew as Beauty and the Beast.

In the meantime, through witty quips and insults, Snow White follows along every step of the way, drawing her and Bigby closer as the pair interrogate the suspects and attempt to find Rose Red’s killer. Naturally, the reader sees a hint of a love story, and by the end, you have the “Ah-ha” moment on all accounts.

I don’t want to give away the ending, just in case this strikes the fancy of someone in class, so I’ll move onto the appearance and writing.

Seeing as I’m not a huge fan of comic books, I can’t say much for the artwork, but overall, it was interesting to see how the artist portrayed each character. If they weren’t identified through conversation, the reader certainly wouldn’t recognize their faces, but then again, this is no Disney spin-off; this is a dark world where all the fables have been humanized to the extreme. The dialogue was also funny and engaging, even though it ventured on the cliché side when it came to the con-artist, Prince Charming. The sex scene near the beginning is downright silly – the girl actually cries out, “Yipee! My hero!” It had me laughing, as did Prince Charming’s pick-up lines. The parodies/new versions of Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, and others also had me cracking up. Of course, people never consider what happens after the “happily ever after” and Fables does a nice job of making the stories real – Could true love last three hundred years? According to Willingham, not so much.

ImageI was apprehensive when my friend handed me these comics, but now I’m looking forward to reading through the series.

Happily Never A…

To The Max! A Revisit to Saved by the Bell

To the Max! A Revisit to Saved by the Bell.

Netflix is a glorious thing.

As soon as Saved by the Bell popped up as “Recently Added,” I couldn’t help but sit back, relax, and enjoy the pure cheesiness. This is almost as good as Boy Meets World.

Welcome to Bayside High, home of the hip, cool freshmen in high school who love chilling at their favorite hang-out called The Max.

Now, to give you a quick overview, I decided to start with the second season of Saved by the Bell. Why?  Well, Saved by the Bell started out as Good Morning, Miss Bliss, set in Indianapolis and revolving around a teacher named Miss Bliss, rather than the familiar cast of teenagers. Zach Morris, Lisa Turtle, and Screech existed in this pre-show, but it was definitely not the same without Kelly Kapowski, Jessie, and A.C. Slater. Now onward:

The show doesn’t offer a solid intro for all the characters; in this “pilot,” you deduce who these characters are just from lines, rather than receiving any backstory.

In the opening, Zach and the rest of his cohorts are hanging out at The Max, when the owner interrupts a snazzy dance party to announce that the television show Dance Party (real original, right?) has chosen the restaurant for a dance contest. Awesome!

Well, of course, the gang has to enter, and Zach and Slater immediately vie for Kelly’s attention. After grabbing her away from Slater – because Kelly is more of an object than a girl to them – she says she would love to go with both of them but that’s just *pout* impossible. Who ever will she choose for a partner?

Slater proceeds to dance – and oh baby, it’s worth watching this episode just for his jiving – and Zach challenges him to a dance off. I’d personally like to know what happened to dance-offs. Can one happen in the Commons soon?

And now for your viewing pleasure, I’ve included the clip of Slater dancing. Because he’s worth it. (Oh and ignore the Jesus tagline at the end. Unless you’re religious and wanna get into it. That’s all on you, readers.)

In the meantime, Screech – the annoying, tag-along friend who I would like to grab by his scruffy hair and shove in a locker – chases after superficial and rich Lisa Turtle, and Jessie Spano avoids the dance contest because she feels she is too tall for all the boys in school.

Strangely, throughout the episode, she rarely calls herself, “too tall.” Instead, she says, “I’m too big for you,” when she has a signature Saved by the Bell fantasy moment later on in the episode. Guess that shows how word meanings have changed since 1990.

Later, we see some of Jessie’s dancing skills when, in music class, the gang and others speed up the music to make it more fun whenever the teacher walks out of the room. It’s a ridiculous, fluffy scene and certainly doesn’t move the plot forward. But hey, it made kids laugh. And we weren’t addressing real teen issues in the show just yet.

Jessie, surprisingly, doesn’t shake her moneymaker like a pro, which is rather surprising, since she later pole danced in life (I’m referring to Showgirls if you haven’t seen or heard of that travesty of a film.)

The audience can infer that Zach has been long-time friends with Jessie, when he barges into her bedroom to ask for dance lessons to win against Slater. She also makes a pointed allusion to the fact that he usually crawls through the window rather than using the front door. How Shawn Hunter of him.

Throughout the rest of the episode, Jessie instructs Zach how to dance, and she eventually confides in Zach that she is insecure about her height. He, like the other girls, assure her that height shouldn’t matter: She is pretty, intelligent, and sensitive.

When it comes down to the dance-off, Zach tells Kelly to do herself a favor and go with Slater, then tells them all that he would rather go with Jessie. Kelly acts disappointed that Zach wouldn’t “fight” for her and slightly offended that he chose her best friend. Uh-oh, Kelly, big-haired blondie may have something over you. But she reluctantly retreats to practice with Slater.

Although I watched this show throughout childhood, I couldn’t help but notice that Kelly came off, to be frank, dumb, and entirely happy with being the toy between Slater and Zach. Good role model, kiddos. She also has the hair-flip down pat.

Jessie and Zach share a moment, a look you could say, and you think, “Ah, perhaps this was all a set-up for Jessie and Zach – best friends – to be brought together as more.” But alas, anyone who knows the show realizes that Kelly wins out and Jessie ends up with Slater.

Kasey Karem, a rather famous radio host in that day and the original voice of Scooby-Doo, makes an appearance as the host of Dance Off and of course, the final three couples are: Slater and Kelly, Jessie and Zach, and Lisa and Screech. The latter probably sounds surprising, but Lisa ended up spraining her ankle when she kicked in the T.V. set. She became a little ticked off when she found out Revlon discontinued her nail polish (see what I mean by superficial?), and since her friends feel bad for her, the episode ends with Lisa and Screech doing “The Sprain,” their own invented dance.

It was definitely one of the odder pilots I’ve watched, with far less character development than most. It was framed like a continuation, even though the previous season only half the characters even appeared. I can’t say I’m going to watch every season on Netflix, but I was highly amused during the whole of the episode.