This blog was written by Meredith Hess ’18, 2018-2019 Davidson Impact Fellow for the Habitat for Humanity International.
If I have learned one thing about Habitat for Humanity since starting my fellowship here in July, it is that there is always more to learn. Sometimes, that can feel daunting. Habitat for Humanity operates in over sixty countries, all fifty United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Our programmatic approach varies based on country and community context (as all development should), and we recognize that there is no one-size fits all solution to providing safe affordable housing. It is impossible for one person, let alone someone like myself who has only been with the organization for five months, to know and understand all that happens within the organization. Our network extends farther than I am sure I will ever fully know.
Because our network is far-reaching, and my team works across various domains, there are days where my work feels spasmodic, and my tasks vary a great deal. For example, a few weeks ago my work load for the day included working on documentation for a grant application for an allotment of over $12 million USD, and working on formatting a PowerPoint presentation graphic for our updated WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) strategy. Both tasks needed to get done, and both were within my domain by virtue of my position on the Global Programs Design and Implementation team. I couldn’t help but laugh thinking about how different these tasks were. It can be easy to lose sight of your purpose in an organization or your role on a team when your tasks feel disjointed and disconnected from other components of the organization. What I have learned, from watching my colleagues and talking with my mentors, is that it is powerful and necessary to take ownership of a task, no matter the scale.
Being entrusted with any task, whether it seems big or small in the grand scheme of things, provides an opportunity to demonstrate your flexibility, competency, and management capabilities. I have felt incredibly privileged here at Habitat for Humanity International, being given the chance to represent the organization at various conferences and meetings, both local and out-of-state. I am sure that in part I have been given the opportunities I have because I have embraced and executed smaller tasks with the same sense of responsibility as I have larger tasks. This is an incredibly important lesson to for anyone to learn in their first-year post-grad: embrace the task, no matter the scale. No work is beneath you when you are working towards a common goal with others, for others.