The winds of change are blowing
UPDATE: Two questions have already been asked. One, is Ultimate Goal a registered 501(c)(3) organization (meaning all donations are tax deductible)? Two, is UGM accepting donations for my position until the grant money starts flowing in? The answer to both questions is a resounding yes. You can donate to UGM by going here and then in the note section just say that the donation is meant for me.
That’s right folks, the winds they are a’blowin. What does that mean? Well, next Friday is my last day at Vanderbilt. I know, crazy right? I thought so too, that’s why it took me two months to decide that this was the right move. But I am really excited about what is coming next. And what is that you ask?
I am going to be the Director of Outreach for Ultimate Goal Ministries.
Yes, I know, it is completely different than being a software engineer, but I have been wanting to move in this direction for a long time and just haven’t had the opportunity to do it. For many years I knew that computer programming was just a tool in my belt, it was not who I am, it does not define me. It never has and it never will. I love learning. Programming let’s me do that. During my first semester of grad school, I was doing research on subjects like the affects of war on children and human trafficking. I knew going into grad school that I wanted to work overseas, I just didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do or where. In doing this research I came across something called activity based trauma therapy, usually using arts or sports. It really resonated with me and I remember thinking that I would love to do that in places in the world where people normally do not go. However, I wasn’t sure how to go about actually doing this.
Fast forward a few years. I graduated and while the dream was still there, nothing job wise was opening up overseas. I ended up moving to Nashville, contract programming, and helping a non-profit that worked with child soldiers in Southeast Asia. The helping was only technological and so I was still looking for something that would get me more involved with people. Eventually I met the guy who runs Ultimate Goal. It was a perfect match for me. Soccer and kids. I have been coaching in their rec league for the last year and a half and I have been on their board of directors since November.
Anyway, John (yes, the guy’s name that runs UGM is John) and I have been talking for a while about the vision of what we would really like to see from Ultimate Goal. Long story short, I proposed the position that I am now taking and later realized, wait, I think I want to do that job. And so I am.
What am I going to be doing? I will be engaging with the families of the kids in our rec league and the families in the community to do a needs assessment to determine how UGM can better assist them. We have a building now and we would love to be able to provide workshops, training, and seminars on subjects that will help them. We also want to have a computer and tutoring center in the building and I will be supervising that. Third, and this is the coolest part, I will be looking at researching and using sports based trauma counseling in our league. Why? Because we have many refugees in our league and these kids have been through a lot and there is a definite need to help them deal with and process their emotions and feelings in a more constructive way than they currently do.
Many people have asked about whether UGM will be paying me. At this point the answer is no. It is a volunteer position at least at this point in time. I will be contract programming on the side to pay the bills, but the idea would be if this position really works out we will be able to find grants and funding for it. Hopefully. Some people have questioned why I would step out into something like this right now, but sometimes you have to risk much when it is something you really want to do and it puts me on the path that I have wanted to be on for a long time.
I am very excited about all this. And scared. But more excited than scared I think.
Anyway, after next Friday I will be taking the rest of June off to sleep, read, and recharge and then I will start this new job the beginning of July.