I came into the nonprofit world truly unknowing of what an amazing space I was heading into. When first setting off to college, I was excited to be the future "Miss Vonderau" to a group of kindergartners. This quickly changed my second year, when I realized that while I wanted to help set children on the path of success, it was not necessarily from the front of a classroom. Teaching was not the best opportunity to experience exactly what I was hoping for while working alongside families. At this realization, sitting at my dining room table late at night, I began scrolling through any other possible major that Cleveland State offered, feeling pretty unsure of myself - and I stumbled upon nonprofit administration. I had no idea what this consisted of and spent the majority of that night researching everything that I could find on the subject. By the time I went to bed, I officially sent in my request to change majors, and was finally confident that I was on the right path.
Jump two years later, after many classes, long hours, amazing internships, and more lectures than I can count, I was officially graduating with my bachelor’s degree in Nonprofit Administration. Even during a pandemic, this opened so many doors for me, and I was ready to dive in. When I say that I stumbled across Adoption Network Cleveland while searching for nonprofits in the Cleveland community, I mean that it truly knocked me off my feet. I had never heard of Adoption Network until that moment, and I did what I do best, began researching. I knew this was the place that I belonged for the next step of my journey.
The work done at this organization is unique in its field. Adoption Network manages to individualize the help they give while cultivating a support group culture for all that are seeking help. The support they provide is not limited to a single demographic but is really inclusive of anyone impacted by adoption or foster care across the board. The part that truly made me feel so invested is that they not only help those in the process hands-on, but they also work to advocate for these individuals in a way that many nonprofits avoid. Seeing that Adoption Network puts themselves in the front lines of advocacy to provide those impacted by adoption and foster care with a voice in policies that affect them is truly what pushed me to join the cause.
Not personally being touched closely by adoption, I didn’t understand the many different ways that it impacts someone's current circumstances and future, both good and bad. After reading many personal stories, and getting to know the nonprofit more, the experiences that people have had touched me deeply. I recognize what amazing work has been done to support this community, yet how much work is still needed. After learning everything that I could and loving every bit of it, I quickly began searching for any open position I could find, and as luck would have it, found one that was a good fit. This led me to where I am today, the newest Communications & Outreach VISTA for Adoption Network Cleveland. I hope this position continues to educate me, and that I can provide my experience to uphold the mission and values that are held so close to Adoption Network Cleveland.
Kayla Vonderau will spend the next year with Adoption Network Cleveland as our Communications & Outreach VISTA as part of the AmeriCorps VISTA program. Kayla's work will include building organizational capacity for program and volunteer outreach through virtual, in-person, and communication strategies. We are excited to have Kayla as a part of our team!