My name is Daisy Schonder and I am a Junior at Whitman this year. I’m studying Sociology and minoring in Race and Ethnic Studies. As a community fellow, I’m interning at Blue Mountain Action Council here in Walla Walla. My focus area, however, is the Blue Mountain Complete Count Committee. This committee’s focus is on the 2020 Census, which occurs every 10 years. The accuracy of the Census count for the local Walla Walla Community is critical in securing necessary funds for public education, health services, roads, non-profits, and much more. In the last Census, only 79% of our presumed population was counted, which means we lost millions of dollars for community funding throughout the last 10 years. The Blue Mountain Complete Count Committee is compiled of professionals in various sectors of the local community to ensure outreach throughout all populations. The Hard to Count (HTC) populations in Walla Walla include Latinx, LGBTQ+, college students, and the homeless. BMCCC is focused on making sure everyone is counted in the 2020 Census and focusing outreach on HTC populations.
This experience has been informative in learning how nonprofits engage with the community and function as a whole. Throughout the past few years, I have been interested in pursuing non-profit work after graduation, so this opportunity to work in a non-profit setting has been wonderful to learn and explore the work environment. The outreach aspect of this internship is by far my favorite and most rewarding. We’ve gone into the community within town as well as holding meetings in Touchet, Dayton, Starbuck and other surrounding towns. I am a Walla Walla native, so entering this internship in the fall, I was not expecting to learn more about the local and surrounding communities than I already had known and grown up around. I was pleasantly surprised to meet so many new people but also discover a new neighborhood just 15 minutes from my childhood home. Local community professionals have been so helpful and engaged with our efforts at BMCCC. Every organization has offered support, connections, and so many resources to ensure everyone in the county is aware of the Census and the amazing ways it can impact our community if everyone is counted.
This internship has become part of my daily routine, whether it be sending emails, posting on the Facebook page, going to meetings with community members, or tabling at a local event. I’m so thankful for the growth that has come from it as well as the opportunity to learn more about my hometown and the people in it.
Experiences like Daisy’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez