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It Takes Our Village

By: Melanie Muha

Preface: I started this blog in 2017 and it had the title, It Takes a Village. I did not end up finishing it. I was still figuring out how in the world seven people pulled off this huge program in so many schools. After the world was recently thrown for a loop, I revisited this blog because I quickly realized what a dedicated group of individuals we have working to connect these students to businesses and motivate them each day. I finished it this week but I decided to change the title and this blog will tell you why.  

Sometimes there are days at The Challenge Program, Inc. (TCP) where 8 hours does not feel like enough time and you wonder where the day went. It is imperative that in an organization where a small group of people connects 127 schools with businesses across three states, that we work together.

There is a team of people at TCP who all have a lot on their plate almost all of the time. Our fiscal year at TCP beings in July. Summer is planning for the fall assemblies and then fall is kicking off the program at every school. Winter becomes event-planning season, coordinating workforce connections, and spring is event and senior awards season. Then it starts all over again. It is funny when someone asks when your slow time is and all you can say is, “that one week between Christmas and New Year.”

Behind the scenes there are people preparing schedules, keeping calendars in check, getting awards ready for students, collecting photos, keeping funds in check, updating followers, and of course running the organization. Days go by where we only say hello and goodnight to each other but even in those busy times, you get to feel a part of something magical and monumental. I have experienced working for large organizations where you are given an Employee ID number and that is sometimes all you are. Here at TCP, you have a responsibility and an important role.

Recently everyone’s role at TCP became that much more important and no one backed down from the challenge. Right now while most of the world seems to be on pause, our mission at TCP continues. To make that happen, our team is in constant contact with educators, businesses, and students to figure out how we can make sure connections still happen and students are still rewarded for their hard work. Part of the team coordinates virtual tours, mock interviews, virtual career events, and presentations between our businesses and schools. Another part of the team is coordinating getting award recipients’ names from schools to give out $127,000 next month. The goal is to connect businesses and schools no matter the current circumstances. Times like these are when everyone needs connections the most.

As an outsider, you would never know just how much it takes to make sure the connections that need to happen actually happen. I came into this organization with very few ideas of how it all worked and came together. Now that I have become an insider, it became obvious that I was working with a family of people and that it does not just take a village. It takes our village.

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