Check out this month’s featured FJV, Cole Merkel (Portland, OR ’10-12). Cole now works for the organization he was placed at during his second year as a JV. Read on to hear Cole’s own words on the continued impact his work has on him and others.
When my supervisor Israel approached me during my second JV year to ask if I would stay on at Street Roots as Vendor Coordinator, I couldn’t believe my luck. I was already working my dream job and I couldn’t imagine leaving and ending the relationships I had spent the year building with more than one hundred men and women experiencing poverty.
Fast forward twelve months and those connections have only deepened. The work I do every day blurs the boundaries of work supervisor, case worker, social media manager and program administrator. My volunteers like to joke that I’m the vendor dad as many of our newspaper vendors will only come to me when they seek guidance or solutions to issues they might be having. I do my best to take it all in with non-judgmental honesty and a whole lot of caffeine.
I hope to be with Street Roots for a long time, but no matter what trajectory my career takes, I am determined to always work outside the box for social and economic justice; to recalibrate the corrupt system we’ve inherited for a more equal future. And I plan to do it with skills I acquired when I was a JV.