Day 12

Wow, ever since Julianne Hough cancelled on our Thirst Gala opportunity everyone in my office has been scrambling to fill her place!  Although there is a lot to be done, I admire how my co-workers handle all of their stress in a positive manner.  My Thirst Project co-workers are incredibly driven yet very relaxed.  I hope I can adapt the same mentality into my own life.  Once again, I am married to my wonderful (sarcasm) Excel sheet – my best experiences at the Thirst Project have definitely come from the conversations with my co-workers.

Today at lunch, I walked to a local farmer’s market to meet up with Tyler!  It was really nice to eat lunch and talk to someone who also has to handle the long drives to and from work.  I swear this commute has almost killed me almost a dozen times.  The drive is dangerous, yet also another learning opportunity.  Driving through all sorts of neighborhoods, from Inglewood to Baldwin Hills, has helped me see more of my own city.  Although I have lived in Los Angeles my whole life, I haven’t taken the time to drive through the many different communities which surround me.

Overall, it has been a relaxing and bittersweet week!

The Beginning of my LAST Week

Hey everybody!  Today was a busy day at the office – a new intern named Houston (19, from Oregon) arrived and Gracie, Olivia, Luke, Evan, Gina, and Seth were all in the office at once!  Everyone is very excited that Seth, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Thirst Project, is back in our West Los Angeles office (from Swaziland) to help out with our Gala.  Since Houston had some free time, he helped me work on the tedious spreadsheets that have compromised much of my time at this office.  As of today, I have now compiled over 1150 rows of information on middle school and high school students across America.  It is crazy how much work I have done on one excel sheet!

My sense of family/community has greatly developed over the course of my three weeks at the Thirst Project.  I love working alongside these young adults.  Today at Chipotle, four of my co-workers (Evan, Luke, Olivia, Houston) and I sat down and talked about the transition to adulthood.  As everyone in the group ranged in age from 18 to 25 years old, each person was going through some type of “transition” phase – ex: renting an apartment, finding a new roommate, or pursuing a higher degree of education.  It is nice to hear a myriad of honest thoughts, struggles, and accomplishments.  Although I am nervous about my future, I am human and I know I am capable.

I have definitely grown immensely over the course of a few weeks.  I am more aware of the networks that connect people, the actions required to run a successful organization, the lifestyles and backgrounds of different people, and the motivators that drive people to interact, donate, and volunteer at the Thirst Project.  I am learning the art of business in a genuine and caring atmosphere.  It has been an empowering and thrilling experience.  I don’t want to leave these social, fun, and bright people!


Thirst Project: End of Week 2

The 7th Annual Thirst Gala is quickly approaching and the excitement/stress in our office is definitely rising!  Everyone in my office is scrambling to order items, confirm attendees, and recruit volunteers for our event at the Beverly Hilton in the International Ballroom.  Quick fact: we are hosting on the same stage as the Golden Globes!

Previously, Jennifer Garner has hosted, as well as Pauley Perrette, and others.  The Thirst Project always receives great support from the entertainment community!  Last year alone, the Thirst Project had over 307 MILLION Press/Media Impressions with coverage from Access Hollywood, to People, to US Weekly and more.  Furthermore, cast members of Teen Wolf, Glee, Twilight, Grey’s Anatomy, and 100 more celebrity supporters and the Presidents of Fox, Relativity Media, and producers have attended in the past.  This year, the Thirst Project is honoring director Catherine Hardwicke as well as actor Ansel Elgort for their generous support!  I am so excited to be a part of this exciting event that raises awareness and funds for the global water crisis.

Since everybody is focused on the Gala, I have been trying to complete all of the nitty-gritty tasks so that Evan, Luke, Olivia, and Gina can focus on the bigger tasks at hand.  In the past few days, I have been recording and organizing student/teacher contacts that our Road Warriors (people who speak on behalf of Thirst Project) have collected.  Although inputting data on an Excel Sheet is a tedious task, I am happy to take a load of work off of my co-workers.  I really respect the Thirst Project’s core employees and it has been very exciting to witness their process of planning this big event.

Week 2, Day 6-8 at Thirst Project

For the past few days, I have had a mediocre and relaxing day at the Thirst Project office!  Although my tasks were simple (filling out Excel Sheets and organizing files), I learned a lot from listening to and observing my other co-workers.  I have noticed that in order to run a successful non-profit, you must be incredibly persistent and organized.  Olivia (Digital Marketing Coordinator) and Gina (Public Relations Coordinator) have taught me so much about the importance of relentless communication.

In preparation for our 7th Annual Thirst Project Gala, I have spent ta lot of time learning about contacting businesses and social media outreach.  Gina always reminds me, “Don’t send one inquiry to one email, send a dozen inquiries to EVERY email account you can find.”  I love how both Olivia and Gina pursue followers and contacts with no fear or shame of spamming.  While most people are too timid to over-communicate in our world, these two girls are DEFINITELY not.  I have learned that although communication may be daunting, it is essential for growing an organization.  Furthermore, I have learned that communicating frequently with others over email, phone, skype or social media can expand your comfort zone and improve your ability to effectively communicate.  I am proud of the techniques and skills that I have acquired so far – asking questions, talking to, and listening to my co-workers has already improved my social and speaking skills in the business world.

I have had some great highlights in these past three days as well!  As I have grown closer to the girls in my office, co-worker lunch dates have super fun and entertaining.  Any topic of conversation – college, boys, majors, jobs – is open for discussion.   Usually I go to lunch with Olivia and ask her dozens of questions about her decision to pursue a job marketing/social media.  My conversations with my co-workers have been the most helpful.  On Wednesday, Evan (my official mentor) finally returned from traveling and a new college-grad named Luke decided to join our team.  Evan, Luke, Olivia, and I went over to a Farmer’s Market for lunch and sat and talked for a good hour.  Since Evan is from Kentucky, Olivia is from Chicago, and Luke is from Ohio, the conversation was never dull! Even though I’m just a high school girl from Los Angeles, I feel like I am making a good contribution to something “bigger than myself”.

I feel like I have a purpose at the Thirst Project…I definitely want to intern this summer!

Thirst Project: Days 3-5!

Day three at the Thirst Project was definitely an adventurous one.  I started off my morning my organizing office supplies for Seth, the founder of the Thirst Project.  Since he is currently in Swaziland, my co-workers and I are scrambling to complete his to-do list.  Fortunately, I received a lucky break when Evan, my mentor (who just flew in on a red-eye flight), asked if I would be willing to drive to Encino to deliver a jerrycan to Paige, a sweet middle-school girl who wanted to fundraise for Thirst Project.  “SURE”, I said enthusiastically, but little did I know that the drive would be CHAOS.  I have always viewed myself a very capable and independent traveller, but navigating these new neighborhoods alone was definitely a challenge – my credit card was repeatedly declined, my car had one gallon of gas, and Waze had some crazy routes for me to take.  Despite these challenges, I managed to drive this little yellow jerrycan to its new home, using a Visa Gift Card with a four dollar allowance to gain an extra gallon of gas.

Driving alone is definitely a growing experience, as you are able to experience a wide variety of lifestyles – I drove through many lower-class and upper-class neighborhoods in my 35 mile stretch.  At the end of the day, the trip was very rewarding because little Paige gave me a big smile and a big thank you.  I definitely felt like an adult!

Days four and five were filled with tedious and logistical work.  I spent both days inputting information into an Excel sheet and responding to companies who contacted regarding donations for our gala.  Pretty boring, but spending time at the office is still always fun!  I ate more bagels, grabbed lunch with my co-workers, and danced to Kanye when work got too dull.  Day three was definitely my highlight.

My First 2 Days at Thirst Project!

Hi everyone, I’ll start off by saying that I am so happy that I got the opportunity to work with Evan Wesley from the Thirst Project!  As most of you remember, he was the super energetic and nice guy who visited Vistamar as a spokesman for this non-profit organization.  If you are somehow out of the loop, the Thirst Project is the world’s leading youth water activism organization!  Their amazing team (who I have the privilege of working alongside everyday) has travelled across the United States to speak to over 320 schools to educate students about the global water crisis.  In the process, they have raised over 8 MILLION DOLLARS, 100% of which has been used to give more than 300,000 people in 13 countries safe, clean water.  What a great job.

Okay, so my first two days at the Thirst Project were very hectic yet very rewarding. After spending 40 minutes in traffic, I finally arrived at the front of the office in West Los Angeles.  After dialing the Thirst Project (#400) on the intercom, I was buzzed in and I proceeded to walk four flights of stairs up to their office (I need to work out WAY more, I was so out of breath)!  As I entered the office, my nervous thoughts immediately eased as I saw a team of girls waiting to welcome me.  They had written in big bold letters, “Welcome Kim!”, on one of their chalkboard walls and I was introduced to their small team.  Although the Thirst Project is a large organization in terms of donations and outreach, the team itself is quite small.  In my first two days, there were a max of five people in the office at once – proving that although this non-profit is small in size, it is mighty in influence.  Furthermore, everyone in this non-profit is very young (a.k.a. fresh out of college) so it was very easy for me to integrate myself into conversations.  The office itself has an incredible view of the Hollywood sign and it is decorated beautifully.  I felt right at home.

Since my mentor Evan was out of the country on a business trip, I started to work on marketing, advertising, and public relations with a kind woman named Gina.  For my first two days, I was instructed to reach out to 50 brands for donations to the Thirst Project’s VIP/Celebrity Gift Bags.  Since our team had 150 VIP Bags to fill, I was working hard to secure legitimate items (Beats by Dre, sunglasses, watches, etc.) for the 7th Annual Thirst Gala on Monday June 13th.  Although I was nervous since I had never personally emailed big brand companies, it was absolutely amazing to relieve replies to the professionally crafted emails.  Over 10 of my contacted companies (Mendocino Farms, SoulCycle, Shoedazzle, etc) confirmed that they will be donating!  I grew so much as a person in these two days because I researched over 150+ companies to contact.  I got to experience and learn about the giant network of businesses that I so often interact with as a consumer, but never interact with professionally.  These emails and communications filled up the first two days of my time as they were very time consuming and taxing!

Definitely my favorite moments in these first two days were grabbing lunch with my new co-workers, getting featured on the Thirst Project’s Instagram, and getting to know the amazing small staff that has built this non-profit from the bottom up.  I’m so excited to tell about some new funny stores and experiences in my upcoming posts.  Stay tuned!

Kim Chwalek