What does it mean to be an “advocate?”

Working in the nonprofit section can be a great way to make an impact on the world. However, it is easy to become so focused on helping others that you yourself get a little lost. As I worked to help others, I often forgot to help myself.  I was so focused on doing good and succeeding at my job; I did not look at what I was sacrificing for it. Low salaries, little to no benefits and a ticking clock on employment. After leaving my first job, I found something that was much more stable. Established organization, good benefits and okay pay. But I still forgot about myself. I didn’t try to negotiate my offer, I was just so happy to get a job that I didn’t question it. But in retrospective, I should have.

When the new overtime ruling came out, I couldn’t forget myself anymore. On December 1, the ruling will change the salary threshold for those who would qualify for overtime pay. As someone who is under that threshold and sometimes works 50/60 hour work weeks, I was intrigued as to how this would affect me. I thought maybe comp time would be used more, or I would be switched to an hourly rate instead of salary. When my Executive Director finally chatted with us about the how we were handling the change, I was presented with some confusing information. Granted, the ruling language can get confusing, but I didn’t fully understand the new process. With the urging and help of some amazing friends (especially the ones who serve on this Board with me), I looked into the new ruling. I did some digging and most importantly, I asked the questions. I probably annoyed my HR person, but I wanted to fully and completely understand how something like this would affect me. I didn’t want to just quietly accept that the change was happening. After several hours of Internet research and many conversations with my co-workers, I finally understand the transition.

With the political climate we are currently in, it is more important than ever to ask questions and fight for yourself and those around you. Don’t just sit back and let things happen around you. It can be difficult. I am fortunate to be surrounded by and work with some amazing women who push me to be better and work harder. My advice: go out and find people who will do the same and than be that person for someone else. Working in nonprofits is a great way to be an advocate for those in need, just don’t forget about you. 

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  • commented 2016-12-20 12:50:49 -0500
    Way to go, Sam! It’s incredibly difficult to remember to put ourselves first when we live for our work (which is almost always the case in nonprofits) and you did it. I’m thrilled that YNPNmaine’s Board helped push you towards self advocacy and can tell you first hand that I’ve felt the same boost in confidence since becoming a Board member. It’s great to be surrounded by such motivated people!

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