Public Allies Class 8 Highlight: Hope & Parker

Hope & Parker, PA AlumsIt has been said that the non-profit community is a small one in Indianapolis, and that you never know who you might run into while at lunch or in a meeting. This is especially true for Hope Steel and Parker Rath, a pair of former Public Allies from Class 8 that now work together at Meals on Wheels in the same building the two of them had their weekly trainings in.

Both had different starting points. Hope had just graduated from Franklin College with a degree  in Sociology. “I knew that I wanted to have a career in nonprofits,” Hope said, “and I thought that Public Allies would be a great starting off point for me.” Parker, on the other hand, had dropped out of Ivy Tech because she wasn’t for sure what she wanted to do with her life. “I was working a dead-end job as a barista, dealing with gender dysphoria, and feeling like I was stagnant and needed something to challenge me.” She had been approached multiple times by Olga Mogollon, Public Allies’ Program Associate, to join Public Allies. “Finally, the time seemed right,” Parker said, “and I decided to leap into something with which I had no experience but set my mind to learn.”

Through their times in Public Allies, both had learned key professional skills that have carried them to their positions today. Hope went on to do another term of AmeriCorps service with Habitat for Humanity of Indiana (called HabiCorps), serving at Greater Indy Habitat. “I served on the job site practically every day interacting with staff, homeowners, and volunteers,” Hope said about her experience. From there, she found a position at Meals on Wheels, where Parker had already had a position. Parker had initially returned to be a barista, but quickly left for a position at Meals on Wheels “knowing I could do more.” She worked on the Ryan White Meals for Life programs, giving her an opportunity to work with food insecurity and serve the LGBTQI+ community in Indianapolis. Parker came out as transgender in October of 2017, and while it was months after the end of her term, “my PA cohort was the first professional environment where I felt safe to explore myself and who I really am, and after so many realizations I could not deny that in some way I’d always been Parker.”

Both Hope and Parker have said that their time with Public Allies have given them more confidence. Hope says that she has become “more confident talking in bigger groups and being an advocate for myself and my career.” Parker adds to this sentiment, saying, “I was more soft-spoken, less confident in my abilities, and lacking a sense of purpose and direction. […] I have continued to grow into a strong and capable person who lives proudly and genuinely feels like a valid member of her community.”