Staying in Touch

The of the best things about being a CharityFocus volunteer is that, by working on projects with small non-profits, we get to rub elbows, however briefly, with interesting, inspiring people who are using their creativity to better their communities. Michael Watkins is that kind of guy.

Three or four years ago, I worked on a website project for an NPO run by Michael called CHOICES, which was dealing with vocational training and advocacy issues for the homeless in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was a challenging project, though not because the website requirements were especially demanding. The difficulty was that Michael was extremely tough to get a hold of. CHOICES ran a number of extremely ambitious programs, including educational programs, collection and distribution of workplace-appropriate attire, counseling, and publication of a monthly newspaper called News�Ķ From Our Shoes. Michael was hands-on with everything, and his time for coordinating with our volunteer team was extremely limited. If you wanted to talk by telephone, you had to call at a pre-appointed time. E-mail exchanges were catch-as-catch-can. Michael was always awfully busy.

And then there was this factor: It can be tough to communicate with your NPO client 3000 miles away when he���s every bit as homeless as the people he serves. Our pre-aranged telephone calls were made to a payphone. Michael’s e-mail access was at the public library, when he could get there.

Eventually we completed our work for CHOICES, and the website they are using today still contains vestiges of our work. I moved on to other projects. Michael crossed my mind now and then, but I never heard from him�Ķ

�Ķ until the other day, when I received this e-mail message:

I send this message to let you know that I, Michael Watkins, am returning to school in January because I have been accepted into the Journalism and Mass Communications School at St. Augustines’ College.

I am so excited about all this, I do not know what to do, but I needs to ask for some help with some school suppllies, notebooks, pens, etc. But I could also use a laptop PC, if anyone has one available.

This is a great opportunity for me to better myself and do it in conjunction with my paper, News…from our Shoes. Please help where you can, if you can. I thank you in advance for your support and help.

You can e-mail Michael your well-wishes or your pledges of support. He���ll get back to you, eventually. He always does.

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