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How my brother inspired me to work with nonprofits

in Nonprofit by Lauryn Rosinski Leave a comment

By Lauryn Rosinski – Marketing and PR account coordinator 

When I read the job description for the marketing and PR account coordinator position at Dot Org Solutions, I knew it was the perfect fit for me. This was not because the office was located in the city of Akron, which is full of great food, culture and music – although that was a plus. It also was not because the business was owned and operated by smart, creative women – although that did not hurt, either.

What drew me to Dot Org Solutions was its mission to helping nonprofits grow and thrive through marketing and fundraising consulting.

Not only do I have a deep admiration, in general, for those who work in the nonprofit sector and commit their lives to making their communities, country and world a better place, I am personally motivated to promote, volunteer at and serve nonprofits that focus on missions I care about.

And that motivation comes from my younger brother.

There are three things you need to know about my brother: 1) He loves ketchup and any type of food you can dip in ketchup, 2) His favorite hobby is lounging in his pajamas and watching Disney movies and 3) Despite the fact that he was raised in the same environment and with the same parents as I was, his life journey has been completely different than mine.

When my brother was two years old, my parents noticed that he was exhibiting some atypical behaviors. He would rarely make eye contact. He did not like to be hugged or cuddled as much as other toddlers. He also frequently flapped his hands and rocked back and forth. After taking him to several behavioral therapists throughout the country, my brother was eventually diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

According to Autism Speaks, autism refers to a “range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.” This basically means that no two people with autism are the same. Oftentimes in the media, people with autism are shown as people with savant syndrome, such as Raymond from Rain Man or Shaun Murphy from The Good Doctor. These portrayals, however, do not represent my brother.

My brother is considered to have low-functioning autism, which means he falls on the more severe side of the autism spectrum. He primarily communicates through the repetition of key words; however, he cannot hold up a conversation. He does, however, repeat certain motor functions, including swaying and persistent jumping. He also grunts and hollers in order to convey extreme emotions, from happiness to frustration. These behaviors, as you can imagine, not only impact my brother, but those around him.

My parents could not have done a better job raising a child with autism. They have guided him through every high and low, waited by his side through every doctor’s appointment, helped him overcome challenges and loved him unconditionally. They ensured he had a happy childhood and continue to contribute to his happiness and well-being as a 21 year old.

However, as anyone with a child on the autism spectrum knows, my parents still needed help from others. And, thanks to so many kind-hearted people, my parents and brother were able to receive that help.

Healthcare aids start out as complete strangers and turn into family members by putting my brother’s needs many times before their own. Teachers dedicated their resources, time and patience to making sure that he would receive an education and participate in his own special graduation ceremony. Even strangers would inspire through random acts of kindness by showing patience during my brother’s tantrums, exchanging thoughtful words to my mother or simply not staring when he flapped his hands or screeched in excitement at the grocery store.

Later in life, I began to learn about the nonprofits dedicated to assisting children and adults on the autism spectrum, from the local Autism Society of Greater Akron to the national Autism Speaks. I then realized that many individuals were like me and affected by autism in some way – and there were nonprofit employees, donors and volunteers willing to provide guidance and support services to those in similar situations as my brother and parents.

Following this moment, I discovered that not all of nonprofits are dedicated to people with autism or their family members. Still, they fascinated and motivated me. I saw that, whether a nonprofit’s focus was to empower women or to create a better educational community for children, they were still making a difference in someone’s lives – and that, to me, was incredible.

During my four years at Kent State University, I tried to serve as an advocate for the nonprofit community. I shared petitions on Facebook, donated when I could and volunteered a few times. Still, I realized at the time that this was not enough. I wanted to do more for the hardworking individuals out there, all of whom were trying to help other people’s brothers.

Then, several months after graduation, I learned about the job opening at Dot Org Solutions.

As the marketing and PR account coordinator for this small agency, I take on different tasks. However, the end goal of my job is to share the stories of and promote our clients, all of which have missions dedicated to serving others. Dot Org Solutions makes an impact by helping these clients – and I love what we do.

Although I am only 23 years old and still have a lot to learn about this crazy thing called life, I feel that I have found my true calling – and it’s all thanks to the experiences I would not have had if it was not for my brother.

I am forever grateful to him.

See You on the Frontlines: A nonprofit consultant’s resolution for a new year

in Nonprofit, Volunteerism by Lauryn Rosinski Leave a comment

By Jeanine Black – Director of Marketing and PR Services

One of the main reasons I love where I work and what I do is that we help nonprofits; in fact, we specialize in it and have made it our company’s primary mission to provide thoughtful, honest advice combined with excellent quality work to help nonprofit organizations be successful. I truly cannot think of a more fulfilling calling than to assist organizations who are trying to change the world in a very real, altruistic way. And, even more impressive, they do it on shoe-string budgets, with minimal staff, limited resources and never enough time. I am awed by their passion, commitment and the love they have for those they are trying to help.

However, as marketing and fundraising consultants, much of what we do is behind the scenes. Meaning, we work closely with nonprofit leadership teams, helping them determine how best to raise awareness of what they do and how to raise the money to do it. We consult with them, often privy to the inner workings of the organization, whether we’re writing a fundraising or marketing plan, developing content for their website, working with the media on their behalf or developing compelling materials that help them tell their stories. It’s wonderful work and there is no doubt we are assisting them in their missions.

And until recently, I thought it was enough.

Shortly before the holidays, my 16-year-old daughter, Emma, and I volunteered to make blankets for the homeless with a group called Because I Said I Would, Akron. (We live in Akron, Ohio, so I try to focus our volunteer efforts in and around our own community.) The blankets were, in turn, to be donated to the Akron Snow Angels, who deliver much-needed supplies to the city’s homeless population during the cold winter months. It was a nice night. She and I made two, heavy-duty blankets with material that we donated ourselves (this was not a requirement). I was proud of our efforts and felt good about taking time to help make what looked like about 100 blankets to be distributed throughout the city.

But then I started to think about who would get those blankets – where they would end up – and wondered if we couldn’t do more. The next day, I signed Emma and me up for an Akron Snow Angels mission. We would take our volunteering one step further by handing out blankets and other supplies and, most importantly, meeting those we were helping.

Although we’ve volunteered for other organizations before, this was an experience neither of us will ever forget. It was Sunday, Jan. 7 and it was about 6 degrees outside. The weather was brutal. We visited Second Chance Village and Summit Park, located by Haven of Rest Ministries in Akron. Second Chance is a homeless village in Akron and Summit Park is frequented by many of Akron’s homeless. We met men and women, young and old. Our duty was to hand out pants – sweats, jeans, overalls…anything to add another layer. Everyone was pleasant, polite and grateful for all we were doing for them. And it broke my heart. At one point I was in tears. Whether it was the man who was beaten up on the bus or the woman with her teeny, tiny bedraggled dog or the teenage girl, same age as Emma, who got to me, I don’t know. I think that young lady got to Emma, too. “She’s so young, mom,” she said to me, as the girl walked away. But there was also laughter and hugs and hot coffee and lots and lots of thanks given.

Since that day, I’ve been thinking about what more I can do to help – there’s always capacity for doing more, right? And I realized maybe it should start at work. Like the blanket-making, our work is meaningful and helpful and valuable, but, again, it’s behind the scenes.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes what a nonprofit needs most is an outside perspective to help them determine where they are and what direction they should head. And we provide them that. But daily, our clients are fighting housing discrimination; serving homeless families; ensuring our kids get a quality education; advocating and educating on behalf of those they serve in an effort to create a better world…the list goes on. And we need to understand that side of their operation as well.

As a nonprofit marketing consultant, I think it’s imperative that we experience the frontlines  – to roll up our sleeves. For them, they are living and breathing their work, day in and day out. If we can join them in the trenches, whether it’s a client or another area organization, we enhance our knowledge and our expertise of nonprofits, while doing the world a bit of good. We can say to them, “Okay, we get it. We really get it.”

So I resolve to do better this year – to make strides to get to know the people our clients are serving. We can serve them that much more effectively and help them in their missions to build better communities.