Mentor Appreciation Time!

My mentor Edith is truly the perfect boss. She is sweet and supportive of me and doesn’t criticize me for my stupid questions, of which there are many! I realize that these past few weeks I have been the epitome of the clueless intern, but she has somehow managed to help me figure out how to get through my work without ever laughing at my idiocy.

Not only that, she wants me to take more breaks. She encourages me to take a longer lunch break and constantly checks in on me to see how I’m doing. She is always organized and helps me whenever I need it.

She is also funny.

During my first week at PPLA, I was very anxious to do a good job. I think Edith knew this and decided to make me feel more welcome. Later that week a shipment of cutouts came in. Each one depicted a racist and/or cheesy stereotype of a people who use Planned Parenthood’s services. Instead of being horrified that someone had approved this, she and some of my coworkers named the cutouts and decided that these were in fact not a waste of money because they could hide them in people’s desk chairs and offices and cubicles to scare them. This was probably my favorite day at the office as I got to watch my mentor goof off.

PPLA is an organization, but it’s also a family. I think I will miss the people most of all when I leave because this group of women, especially my mentor are truly incredible.

Generation Gap

For the last few weeks at PPLA, I have been interviewing potential volunteers. Although it is not the most exciting job in the world, I did not run into any problems until today.

Today I interviewed a woman who I’d been trying to get in contact with for over a week. Every time I called she did not answer, so I had her email my mentor to schedule a time. She couldn’t hear properly the email I gave to her in the voicemail and decided to call PPLA instead, which is completely understandable.

When we were finally put in contact she told me that I needed to work on talking slower and louder as she couldn’t understand me in my voicemail, which none of my other potential volunteers I’ve interviewed have brought up but I just went a long with it to not upset her further.

Then she went on a ten minute rant about Trump, who she calls “Agent Orange.” And believe me I am not anti-Trump rants, but I didn’t think a job interview was the time to do it especially since I was only on the first question out of 7 and usually the interview takes at most 15 minutes. Anytime I tried to let her know politely that I did have another volunteer to interview, she would say that it was rude to interrupt her. She then asks for my age and says that because I am so young I should be listening to what she has to say. Then she asks for my last name, which I fear she is going to use to call PPLA and comment on her phone call with me.

At this point she has been talking for 20 minutes and I am 5 minutes late to my next meeting. I try to tell her that I have to go and she continues to criticize my rudeness.

Now the next person I am supposed to interview starts to call me as I am 20 minutes late for our interview.

Eventually I say as nicely as possible that I have to go and I tell her she will hear from us shortly. Finally I am able to hang up and I call my next interviewee. Although I apologize profusely for my untimeliness and the my interviewee is very understanding, I still am frustrated that this rude woman had taken up this other interviewee’s time.

In the end, since I only managed to get two questions answered by the woman, I had to sorta fudge the answers to the other questions based on the rants she went on.

Fortunately my mentor was very understanding and this woman will not be working with PPLA anytime soon. Still though, today was not my favorite day.

Why Planned Parenthood Matters

I’ve always known that Planned Parenthood helps our community, but I recently witnessed something that I think proves this.

The other day as I was getting ready to leave work I saw a young teenage couple hugging outside the Planned Parenthood Health Center. Although I don’t know for sure why they were at the clinic, I have a pretty good guess as they held onto each other for strength outside the door. Watching them support each other physically and emotionally broke my heart a little as I realized how much Planned Parenthood helps us. I’ve always known how devastating it would be if Planned Parenthood was defunded, but that day I saw who it would directly affect. And that’s teens like me. I imagined what this couple’s life could be like without the loving support of the Planned Parenthood staff and then pictured it on a national scale. That’s horrific.

Planned Parenthood is just as much an educational nonprofit as it is an affordable healthcare for people around the country. Without this resource, I wonder how much STDs and AIDS would increase in our country. How much would teen pregnancy increase? How many women and men would lose their access to birth control? The affects of Planned Parenthood being defunded are incalculable.

For me, Planned Parenthood means living in a healthier, more educated world, where EVERY SINGLE CHILD is wanted.

Planned Parenthood Shirts

This week, I spent a lot of time folding and sorting t-shirts. I know! I can’t believe what an amazing mark I am leaving on this world! I’m kidding (kinda.)

Folding and organizing t-shirts is not all that interesting so I don’t have much to say on it. What I will say is that as much as I love PPLA, my work is often dull there.

When I first unpacked the t-shirts from the box, I thought this wouldn’t take that long. I mean how long does it take to fold two hundred or so t-shirts?Turns out a very long time! Especially because I had to organize them into sizes and although the sizes should have been the same, they weren’t and I had to sort them by measuring each shirt against each other. This took forever!!!!!!

Although this wasn’t the most groundbreaking work, working at PPLA is still awesome because I know this organization educates and helps people throughout our community.

Honestly I don’t hate the busywork that much though because it gives me time to read. At PPLA, I’ve read two books so far because my full attention doesn’t need to be given to the mundane work my mentor gives me.

I am still really happy to do my senior project here, despite the occasional dull work. I realize that even if it is busywork, in the end, having folded and organized t-shirts for PPLA to give out is helpful, even if it is tedious for me. I realize that in the end I am helping people because I am helping the organization that helps people.

Overall, PPLA is the perfect place for me, monotonous work and all!

Buttons!

Today at Planned Parenthood was not exactly a non-stop thrill ride like my first day. I spent the day making buttons. I was given an odd contraption and three HUGE boxes; one stuffed with paper cutouts of little cartoons excited about their birth control, the next filled with the top and bottoms half of the button, and the last full of clear sticky lamination sheets. I used the weird contraption and the tree boxes to create buttons. OH SO MANY BUTTONS! Next Sunday, Planned Parenthood will be a part of Long Beach Pride and they needed a plethora of buttons so everyone attending could get one. My mentor had me do this for about two hours which I know doesn’t sound that long, but in button making time is like a million years!!

After this mundane task, (which I have to finish tomorrow cause I didn’t even get close to halfway through so I do have to finish it tomorrow :/ ) I spent the rest of the day interviewing potential volunteers for PPLA (Planned Parenthood LA), which wasn’t as bad as the button making but still not the most exciting day.

Overall I’ve had a lot of fun at PP. Tomorrow I get to help organize condoms which should be fun. Hopefully it will be more interesting than buttons!

Capitol Day!

Yesterday was my first day working at Planned Parenthood. It started by me having to wake up at 5:30 in the freaking morning and heading to LAX. From there I flew with a bunch of planned parenthood employees and volunteers to Sacramento to visit the state capitol. By the time we got to the state capital it was 10 and I had my first meeting with an assembly member, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.

My job was to convince the senators and assembly members with a team of three others to use $50 million (which seems like a lot of money but apparently isn’t…) from the Tobacco Tax to help Planned Parenthood in case we are defunded. Unfortunately he had been dragged into a meeting but we met with his secretary who told us to be optimistic about the assembly member’s support. Although I was disappointed I didn’t get to meet assembly member Ridley-Thomas, I was pumped that we (most likely) had his support.

As I walked to the rally after the meeting (feeling slightly disgruntled) I passed a man holding a large sign that said JESUS OR HELL. I put my head down in order not to be seen but I was wearing a hot pink Planned Parenthood shirt, sunglasses, pin, fanny pack, and a pussy hat (all provided by Planned Parenthood) so I didn’t exactly blend in. The man yelled at me “women’s health is a front for murder!” I almost snorted with laughter and I continued to the rally.

Once the rally finished I went to an assembly member meeting (where I passed a really freaky portrait of Schwarzenegger and yes I will attach a picture I took of it) to watch the bills become laws. The coolest bill I saw pass that day was to get rid of the tampon tax (assembly bill 479 if you are interested.) Before this bill, sanitary products and tampons were considered luxury items not necessities (as if it’s a luxury to get your period.) Now these products will be considered necessities in the state of California starting on January 1, 2018. This was incredible to watch as this directly affected me and I got to see my state change for the better.

Soon I had to rush off to my next meeting with senator Ricardo Lara. He also ended up being busy so we met with his assistant in his office (where he has a trump piñata!!!!) I looked around at the pictures of him helping children without healthcare and thought this one is in the bag. Again the assistant said she couldn’t speak for the senator but that she could almost guarantee his support. I left his office feeling hopeful for women’s healthcare and headed to the gallery to watch the senators vote on bills. This is where I first heard senator Holly Mitchell. When the speaker at the meeting announced her bill I immediately recognized her name. I had a meeting with her in an hour. I watched mesmerized as she pushed her bill in order to reduce sentences for nonviolent drug related crimes that had been lengthened during the Bush era because of the war on drugs. She argued  how the war on drugs had failed and had led to an increase in racial profiling and systemic racism and that since the war on drugs is over, the prisoners who got more time should have their sentences reduced to a more reasonable sentence. When she finished speaking, the speaker called for any discussion or argument. Of course an old white republican man stood up and argued that the war on drugs wasn’t racist and senator Holly Mitchell took him down. She was a savage and the bill ended up passing almost unanimously. It was so awesome.

After this showdown, I was terrified and thrilled to meet this powerful woman. I waited in her office and the Hillary posters calmed me down. Then her assistant told me that she wasn’t here yet so he would begin the meeting with me. I felt a wave of disappointment. I really wanted to meet this woman! But I shook it off and made my pitch. About ten minutes in to the meeting Holly Mitchell struts in looking like a badass. She apologized for being late and asked to hear Planned Parenthood’s proposal. Of course she was in support and my team and I talked to her for another 15-20 minutes. We even took a selfie (that is also attached.)

Overall I think I had a pretty fantastic and exhausting first day. I can’t wait for more!