Senior Brandy Riziki sits at her desk and checks the request binder, in which teachers put requests for posters and other art projects to be made by the volunteers. Projects so far have included anything from wearable paper capes - to go with the superhero theme this year - to giant 3D flowers.
THE SUMMER SCOOP: Senior goes from volunteer to Volunteer Coordinator at Breakthrough, loves ‘being in charge’
This is the third installment of a series on internships, jobs and classes that students are doing this summer.
Senior Brandy Riziki is the Volunteer Coordinator for Breakthrough Sacramento’s summer program, which goes from June 25 to Aug. 3. Breakthrough provides year-round, tuition-free college preparation for academically motivated students from under-resourced schools.
Q: What do you do?
A: I am in charge of the volunteers who come in over the summer. What we generally do is make posters, art projects or props that the teachers need for their classes. We also serve food to the students – breakfast, snack, lunch and (then another) snack.
I have a bigger responsibility than the volunteers because I am basically the one representing them. If the volunteers need anything, I’m the one that goes to (executive director) Faith (Galati) or (program director) Ruby (Cortez).
An organization, United Way, gives us food, and every week we have to mail them the daily meal counts for the students. I’m the one who is in charge of doing that paperwork and making sure that it’s good, clear and not complicated.
Q: What have you previously done with Breakthrough?
A: Last year I was a volunteer for three to four weeks. It was fun. I really liked walking around and helping teachers. We were in the art room for most of the time making posters and bookmarks for the students. (We) also did things outside, like serving food.
(This year) I was like, “Ooh, I wanna do that again!” But I already have my community service hours, so I thought that I could go for the paid option.
Q: What did you do to get this position?
A: I emailed (Galati), and I asked if there was any paid position for Breakthrough and if I could do it. She showed me the options, and I said I wanted to be the Volunteer Coordinator because I had experience in being a volunteer.
A little bit before finals I had to go to an interview – it was at a Starbucks, so pretty casual – and (Galati) and (Cortez) just asked me a bunch of questions, and if I had any questions, I asked them.
I waited a couple of weeks, and then Faith told me I got the position. I was really happy. I didn’t want to be bored (this summer).
Q: What did you do in preparation for the position?
A: We started having meetings before the program started. I had food service training, (learned) how the program was going to go (and got) the calendar and daily schedules.
We also had orientation before the program started. It was mostly for the teachers, but it was also so that I could get familiar with the way Breakthrough is organized. (I walked) around and learned which classrooms are which and where everything would be. That way, if any of the volunteers needed anything, I would be able to answer those questions.
I also had to organize the art room my way so that we didn’t disrupt anything that belongs to (art teacher Andy) Cunningham.
Q: Do you still get to do things you did last summer as a regular volunteer?
A: Yeah. It’s like doing what the volunteers do but on top of that having other responsibilities. I don’t do as many art projects or props as I did last year because there are other requirements for my responsibilities, so I just leave it to the volunteers.
My policy is “I’ll stress for you guys.” The volunteers will do art projects and the other stuff, but I will deal with anything that requires responsibility, like scheduling or the calendar.
I don’t want them to stress over the summer.
Q: What is your typical day like?
A: I get (there) between 7:30 and 7:50 a.m. I put my stuff in the art room, head to the MP room and set up for breakfast, which is at 8:05. When (the volunteers and I) are done serving (breakfast), we go into the art room and start doing requests that the teachers bring in.
At 10:20 we have snack, so some volunteers go back to the MP room and get it ready. Then we get back to the art room and keep working on stuff the teachers require. We usually start setting up for lunch at 12:10, and then we serve it and have our lunch in the art room. After that we keep working and keep having fun, and at 3:10 we serve snack.
The students and most of my volunteers leave at 4 p.m. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. is when the volunteers are (there), but for me it’s 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. because at 4 p.m. there is a meeting with the faculty and staff.
Q: How was your first day?
A: It was fun. I walked around and helped with everything. The only downside was that (when) I got home, my feet hurt because I walked so much. I had to get more comfortable shoes.
Q: What is your favorite part?
A: Not to sound bossy, but being in charge. I love being a leader because it’s cool to know that I can make a schedule (or) a list of things to do and that I have people who can help me get those things done.
It’s also fun work. We have a lot of creative volunteers. I really like that I can give them requests, and then they just make it 20 times better than what the teacher expected.
I love the fact that I’m busy all day. My goal (for the summer) was to have fun, and Breakthrough is fun.
Q: Are you planning to continue next summer?
A: I’ve been thinking about either being a social media intern or a teacher, but I’m not sure. I want to try different things.
Being a teacher seems like a lot, though. You have to do a lesson plan and other work, and I want to have a nice summer because it’s going to be my senior year.
Q: Has this position influenced your future career goals? A: In a way. Not fully, in that I want to be a teacher or a program manager or something. But I really like it because it’s showed how much I love being a leader and having responsibility.