A Day in the Life: Kaela MacPhail

As the Assistant to the Grantmaking & Community Leadership department, every day is different, and I can never predict what might come next. My role is more or less to assist with whatever department members might need, primarily in the areas of processing grants and creating reports. I begin each day by sifting through the tasks I’ve been given and determining what should take priority, then working through the list throughout the day. I enjoy many aspects of my job, but what really makes this an interesting position is what I learn about my community in the process.
I’ve lived in Charleston for about three years now, so I feel like I’m really settling in as a member of the community. I’m awed and inspired every day that I work here by the incredible generosity and giving spirit of my Lowcountry neighbors, from the donors who work so hard to provide desperately needed resources to area nonprofits, to the nonprofit employees and volunteers themselves, who are so driven to meet the goals of their mission each and every day. I’m humbled to be able to play even a small part in their success.
As grant recommendations come in from our donors, part of my job is to do “due diligence” on the nonprofits. This entails ensuring the nonprofit is valid and charitable, and in line with all applicable laws. In the process, I research the mission of the organization and how they go about achieving it. I can easily get lost learning about the good work of these organizations and spend entirely too much time on their websites – there are some truly incredible organizations out there.
One organization that immediately comes to mind from recent grantmaking is the Turning Leaf Project. This organization works to reduce recidivism in men who are released from prison, through education and job training. They focus on giving the men tools to modify their thinking and behaviors, as well as preparing them for real world jobs, in order to decrease the likelihood that they will engage in further criminal behaviors. The mission to give these men a path forward offers hope to many, and changes lives each and every day.
As applications for our competitive grantmaking programs are submitted, I do a similar process, but for those organizations I’m able to take it one step further and learn about specific projects going on at those organizations. I love reading through proposals outlining interesting and life-changing programs; the dedication and creativity of these nonprofits never fail to inspire me. For example, Historic Charleston Foundation recently received support from our Open Grants program for their Community Land Trust project.  The goal of this particular program is to create long term affordable housing in the Charleston area. As I read through the proposal, I was heartened to see that HCF is working hard to ensure low-income residents have access to affordable and high quality housing, even as the city continues to grow and change.
As my to-do list grows longer each day, I’m sustained by the knowledge that I’m able to help, even if in small ways, the important work being done each day by these wonderful community members.

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