Ezra Copes-Finke

During my summer at Teen JUST-US, I’ve been working at Doc Wayne Youth Services.  Their mission fuses sports and therapy to break down stigmas surrounding mental health and treat children and teens who are managing a mental health need as a result of trauma. Twenty percent of all children live with a mental health challenge, and 80% of those children don’t receive the help they need. Mental health is a very important topic to me, and I have loved sports my whole life, so Doc Wayne was a perfect match for me.

I had one project that spanned the whole summer, which was to create a fundraising event for Doc Wayne. The event was in partnership with Positive Tracks, another non-profit that has the slogan “Sweat for Good,” alluding to their many athletic events that fundraise for good causes. The event I was making of course had to include some athletic activity, and I decided to make the event a 3 on 3 basketball tournament. I love playing basketball, especially with my friends. Because I was in charge of the event and it was going to be in my town, a 3 on 3 basketball tournament seemed like a great way to bring my friends together and have a good time, as well as support a great cause.

From the beginning, my supervisor made it clear that I was in control of this event. It felt really cool and different to have someone put that much trust in me, and I think that feeling alone propelled me to make sure the event was as amazing as possible. With the trust came a lot of responsibility though. The first thing I did was apply to 4 banks for sponsorships for the event, and at first I didn’t hear back from them for a couple of weeks. This was when I discovered how stressful waiting was, because the event was going to be in only 5 short weeks, and I was constantly worrying that I wouldn’t have enough time to finish planning and creating the event in that time period, especially with long waits like that. The banks did eventually respond however, but only one bank said yes, which at first was very disappointing. I was quickly informed by my supervisor and others that 1 out of 4 was an extremely high rate, an accomplishment that was a good boost to my confidence for the event. The next thing I did was meet with a representative from Positive Tracks, which I did by myself. I felt like I was a representative for a company and it kind of made me feel like an adult. Next came creating a website for the fundraiser where people could donate and find out more information, which was really cool because I could make something that people could actually use and I could see people using through the donations, which was extremely rewarding. Last came emailing small businesses for donations and reaching out to my friends and others in the community to donate or come to the event, a task that was a lot more tiring than I expected.

I’ve come out of this experience feeling so much more prepared for a job where I have to write emails or call people or just communicate with people in any way. Also, forming an event entirely by myself was an extremely maturing and rewarding experience, and I am so glad that I was given such a big project, even though it was stressful or tiring at times.

Ezra Copes-Finke
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