Jennyfer Osuna, the Fatherhood Services Resource Coordinator with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, shares advice that she has picked up while on the job as a SERVE Philadelphia VISTA.

  1. Start your day with positive thoughts. Wake up and be thankful for where you’re at. Be optimistic that you are here to have a good day. Whether you drive, ride the train, or bike to work—try to make the best of your morning commute. Starting your day with a clear mindset will do wonders to your work ethic.
  2. Get creative with your (packed) lunches. Living on a stipend means you can’t eat out for lunch every day. However, you can still have a mid-day meal that is nutritious and fun. Try to incorporate a lot of veggies, fruits, and high protein foods, as well as a dessert for a little treat. Get yourself a chic lunch box, bag, or water bottle. Make a lunch that will make you excited. And remember to treat yourself every once in a while!
  3. Root for each other and watch each other grow. The members in your cohort will become some of your greatest friends and closest supporters. The strangers that you first met at the Pre-Service Orientation will teach you how great it is to work alongside a group of warmhearted individuals.
  4. Make your work space, YOU. This is where you will spend most of your time at work. Make your desk or cubicle area a representation of yourself. Although you will only be at that work space for a year, you can still create a homely space. Make it a space that benefits your mind even on your busiest days.
  5. Take advantage of discounts. Coupons and discount codes will be your new best friends. Pick up the coupon book when you walk into the grocery store. Follow blogs like Uwishunu to find out about all the free, public events happening in the city. Book a BoltBus ticket in advance and take a day trip to NYC. Discount it until you make it!
  6. Be patient with your progress. You are growing from this. This VISTA position will allow you to branch out and meet an array of individuals and opportunities. Take every opportunity this job may throw at you and learn from it. 
  7. Learn to make yourself a priority. Working in this field—alleviating poverty—can be overwhelming and hard, while also amazing and rewarding. So, remember to make yourself a priority. Learn healthy ways to cope. Learn what makes you feel good. Be you, do you, for you.
  8. Kindness is underrated. Keep an open mind towards things and people you do not understand. As the Fatherhood Services Coordinator, I coordinate services for low-income fathers and their families. At the beginning of my service year, I was afraid of being rejected by this community of fathers since I am a woman. Yet these fathers are the most inspiring and kind-hearted individuals I have come to meet. 
  9. Advocate for your beliefs. Marginalized communities have been overlooked for too long because of the societal barriers they face. These systemic barriers have created a stagnant inequality for marginalized communities, and after being inflicted for generations, are affecting the accessibility of opportunities. Advocate for these members of our society that are underrepresented. Stand up for what you believe. Be loving and kind, but don’t let people walk all over you.
  10. Just enjoy where you are now. Sometimes we get so caught up in everything happening around us that we forget to enjoy our time. Enjoy each day as it comes by you. When you feel dark, remember how the world used to feel on your best days—expansive and bright.