So we’re doing the JIFFI internship a little differently this summer, and by differently, I mean there are two of us. My name is Vivian Crumlish and I’ll be a sophomore in the fall at Notre Dame. I just joined JIFFI last February as a Community Relations Associate, but wanted to get more involved and saw the internship as an excellent opportunity to do so. Due to some complications, we’re not partnering with Bridges Out of Poverty this summer, but I’m still learning a lot running JIFFI.
Every week this summer has been different so far, so I don’t have a normal schedule, but I work between 8 and 15 hours a week for JIFFI, splitting the work with the other intern. The first two weeks, I met with a lot of new clients, filling out loan applications with them and then contacting them with our decision. Since those first weeks, the new applicant meetings have petered out, but not completely and I still have one to two meetings a week.
I’m also helping to manage our repayment schedule, which means I contact clients to remind them of their repayment due dates and then meet with them to collect their repayment. In the past few months, we have had two clients that have defaulted on their loans. We started out by calling them every day, then emailed them and texted them. Two weeks into the summer, I managed to speak to both of them on the phone and have successfully created a new payment schedule for one of them, while the other continues to evade further calls and messages from me.
While tracking down these two clients is frustrating, I have found the most difficult part of my job so far is letting clients know that we can’t give them a loan for whatever circumstances. One instance in particular was extremely hard because the client was out of minutes on his/her cell phone and the only means of communication by which I could send our denial was via text. I wanted to show compassion despite the discouraging message I was bearing. The client understood our decision, but still asked for any other recommendations of where he/she could turn to help and I recommended Bridges Out of Poverty.
But I really only knew of that community partner, so after that situation, I looked into our previous community partnerships more and have started working on new ones, such as REAL Services, Catholic Charities, Little Flower Catholic Church, and the Salvation Army, and have already scheduled a meeting with REAL Services for late June. In addition to this community outreach, I was invited to do a JIFFI presentation for a class of Summer Scholars at ND. I’m very excited to share our mission with a group of someday Domers and possible new JIFFI associates.
I have really enjoyed my time with JIFFI so far and want to keep working hard to help as many clients as we can, whether directly through a loan from us, or through a recommendation to one of our community partners.