Here’s the latest installment in our series on the “Day in the Life” of nonprofit communicators, where we ask you to describe your day in your own words.
Share your day with us! Don’t be shy – tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.
Janis Walton lives in Gonavies, Haiti and is the Director of Special Projects and Liaison to the English Speaking Community for Eben-Ezer Mission Inc. a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Indigenously established and led, Eben-Ezer was started in 1969 and is one of the top five NGO’s in Haiti. Their emphasis is on sustainable development and job creation. Janis’ background includes a variety of nonprofit leadership roles. Prior to this, she worked for The Sun Valley Summer Symphony in Sun Valley, Idaho for 12 years.
And this is her typical day:
Note: I schedule my own time for the most part. I also live in Haiti which changes things up a bit! Crisis management is a constant. So here was my day today at least. Every day is different. And that is one reason I love my job.
Before 8:00, I have gotten dressed, fed my dogs, and done a few household things. After I’ve made a cup of coffee, I sit down and check my email. My boss, the president of our nonprofit, typically works on his emails at 4:00 a.m. So if there is a crisis or something urgent that has come up (which happens a lot) I can see if there is something that needs my attention.
Today seemed like it would be a typical slow morning, but it wasn’t.
At 8:30 a.m. I received a text. A major celebrity was interested in endorsing our organization and wants to help us get the word out about what we are doing for emergency aid in south Haiti, due to Hurricane Matthew. During this text, I asked about another national organization and wondered if they might be interested in helping us. My contact said he would check with his contact who works within that organization. We texted back and forth.
9:00 a.m. They are interested! And the beauty of this contact is that they are interested in sustainable relief aid. This is where our heart is too. Our celebrity is more passionate about emergency aid. We are doing both and have a two-phase plan. The organization wanted more information. And they want it yesterday. They also want to take this “national”. It’s time to think bigger!
9:30 -10:00 a.m. I quickly wrote a letter outlining who we are and what we do, our history and the needs, immediate and long term. I sent it to my contact. He edited it and sent it on to the celebrity and the organization. At this point, it wasn’t a done deal. But they were both interested.
10:00 a.m. I HAD to get to the bank. Individuals were waiting for money and up until now, what I thought I would do first, came second. I arranged for a guy to travel with me, so I wouldn’t be wandering around Haiti alone. The bank can also be dangerous. So I never travel there alone.
10:15 a.m. My boss showed up at my door just as I was getting ready to leave. Another crisis and an update on a previous one. All good news. When he walked in the door, I was talking to my contact. We sat and discussed our ideas and options, I told him I would get back to him and left for the bank. He was excited about the potential opportunity.
11:30 a.m. Back home and still texting back and forth with my contact. Getting hungry. I arranged to drive back into town and buy a burger…craving something American! My daughter went with me. Ah! Air conditioning too.
We sat down for lunch and I kept my phone close by. I enjoyed connecting with another American who came in for lunch. Many people stared at the “blans” (white girls).
1:00 p.m. Good news! Both the celebrity and the organization are on board. And they want to work together. Texting again regarding specifics. Planning how to get their private plane to our airstrip, logistics. My poor contact has to be getting tired, lots of going back and forth.
Headed back home. Drove onto the compound and stopped to tell my boss the good news. Lots of high fives and “Whoo Hoo’s!”
2:00 p.m. It’s HOT! Time to hang out my laundry (yeah, we do it by hand) play with my doggies and take a short nap. It’s too hot to work.
3:00 p.m. Back to work…Need to flesh all this out on paper. It’s time to prepare a written proposal that will look sharp and present us well. They are on board, but we need to get our financials down and our plans organized. We will be meeting with an engineer tomorrow to discuss building plans. We are rebuilding entire communities from scratch.
The plan is to build 30 houses, a clinic, two schools, a small credit union and a church in rural difficult to reach places. We will also be providing solar power and job training for sustainable community life. We are starting with ten communities and the Haitian government has agreed to give us 11 acres per community.
We will also be providing agricultural development and a Food 4 Work program. The people will do the work and will be paid with food for their families. This gives them dignity and an investment in the work. It’s exciting stuff, but a bit complicated to write out!
5:00 p.m. Dinner, rest, back to work at 7:00. I need this done in the morning for an early meeting.
It’s 8:37 p.m. I was supposed to teach a class but it was cancelled. So, I am back at it. Yeah, you could maybe call me a work-a-holic!
Thanks for sharing your day, Janis!
Want to be featured in this series? Tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.