My interview with Missy Shields of buildOn, which “is an international nonprofit organization that runs youth service after-school programs in United States high schools, and builds schools in developing countries. The organization’s programs engage young Americans from mostly urban areas in community service, and promote literacy among children and adults in developing countries.
buildOn views its service learning and school construction programs as a form of social activism that intends to, in their words, “break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations”. buildOn is based in Stamford, Connecticut. They have a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.” (taken from here)
Naomi: How did you come to work for (or start) buildOn?
Missy: I found buildOn, after searching on idealist for an organization that works with high school students and leads them on international service trips. I had the wonderful opportunity of leading six of our international school building trips and working with four of our programs in the Bronx. I fell in love with empowering our students through service and I have been here ever since!
Naomi: How can librarians help buildOn?
Missy: We are always looking for adult volunteers to support our programming by coming out to service projects, or our program meetings. We also are always looking for opportunities for our students to volunteer in their community, so if you have any volunteer opportunities in the cities we work, we would love to hear about them.
Naomi: Can you speak a little about your experiences with libraries? Any favorite libraries or experiences with them?
Missy: I love libraries! I spend many Saturdays at The Brooklyn Public Library, since it is close to my house, but I love the peace and quiet. I also love that a library is one of the few places where we can still have quality entertainment for free!
Naomi: Favorite book(s)?
Missy: Shantaram, Atlas Shrugged, The Lizard Cage
Naomi: Favorite adaptation (book to film or even film to book)?
Missy: I really loved The Hunger Games Trilogy (unexpectedly!) and I think the movie did a great job capturing the essence of the story, the characters and the creative images. That is quite a feat!
Naomi: Are there any blogs or websites we should be following?
Missy: Of course buildOn’s blog: buildOnfromthefield.org But also, the http://www.thedigitalnaturalist.com/ is a great blog about non-profit story telling and the Story Corps blog, http://storycorps.org/blog/, all about archiving American stories for future generations.
After graduating from The Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelors in Science, Technology and Culture in 2003, Missy went on to manage and run a global work exchange program for college students with AIESEC United States. During Missy’s six-year tenure with AIESEC, she had the opportunity to mentor, train, and evaluate over 500 students aged 17-22. In 2008, Missy was hired by buildOn as a Program and Trek Coordinator in the Bronx, NY to run four after school youth development programs and lead two Trek for Knowledge trips abroad per year. Missy was promoted to the position of NY Regional Supervisor in 2010 where her extensive experience in program design and implementation, program management and fiscal responsibility improved our programming and deepened our impact in NYC. In 2012, Missy became Vice President of US Programs, assuming leadership of buildOn’s domestic agenda while overseeing all programmatic development and implementation.