Samantha Danner has been an intern with COA since January 2015. Read what the experience has taught her in her own words:
“Although I call Milwaukee home, I’m not originally from here. I moved here when I was 19, a sophomore in college, and trying to handle the adjustment to a bigger city. While I don’t remember the first time I heard of COA, what I do recall is the number of times I heard about them in my first two years here. I had been taking a few courses at UWM, ranging in leadership studies to non-profit grant writing, and every few weeks someone would mention COA as a good representative organization for Milwaukee. This was my introduction to COA, and little did I know what was coming ahead.
Five years later, while preparing for my final semester of college, I learned that I needed to be placed for an internship. My university professors and counselors had tried to convince me to intern on campus, with the university. I knew my passion wasn’t with the college experience, rather in the community working with youth. I wanted to find an organization where I would have the opportunity to have a well-rounded internship that would provide real life experience that I could use in my career, as well as grow from personally.
Since being with COA, I’ve received the experience I had hoped for, and more. I was never stuck in one place doing one task. Each day’s assignments were new and allowed me to interact with different staff throughout the organization. I was granted the opportunity to sit in on a development meeting, assist the camp registrar office, prepare for an important event, interview team members, and work with youth during community events. During all of these opportunities, I was given the freedom to work creatively and independently, while still making connections with the members throughout COA. I felt trusted, supported, encouraged and appreciated. If that isn’t the ideal internship opportunity for community and youth development, I don’t know what is.
I look forward to continuing my time as a volunteer with COA. COA has a part of my heart and really encompasses my favorite quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Make a career of humanity”. COA goes above and beyond, committing themselves to working for equality, success and happiness for all those they serve. Not only witnessing their work, but being allowed the opportunity to join their team as a volunteer, and to work alongside other individuals who have made the commitment to humanity is powerful, and I hope many others have the chance to experience it. It is important to find time to give back to the community and to your neighbors. No one succeeds alone and it is important that we work together to impact the lives of as many others in a positive way as we are able to.
I have many favorite memories of working with COA, starting with my first time making cold calls to community businesses for support, because I felt a deep sense of growth in that moment. Another favorite memory I have was volunteering at Riverwest and spending time with one of the youth. He was waiting for programming to begin and hanging out while I worked on a task. We were able to accomplish my original goal of completing the task, then also got to practice higher-level math that he was learning in his classroom. He was proud of himself and being able to be there with him in that moment of joy and pride is something I will reflect on as I continue to grow as a professional.”
– Samantha Danner, COA Volunteer since January 2015