Sometimes, “membership” sounds a little scary. To me, it sounds like money, time commitments, and cliquey social groups — all things that, as a senior in college, I can’t afford. But then I started working at Upstate International (UI), and my perspective on membership changed.
As an intern, I’ve gotten to see a side of Upstate International that many others do not. I get to see the inner-workings of the nonprofit: the programming, event planning, endless filing and organizing, the meetings, long phone calls, the emailing and surveying, the designing, printing, and cutting — and, of course, the managing of membership payments.
You mean nonprofits aren’t free?! No, we might not be free, but we do put every dollar received towards the benefit of members and the people of our Upstate community. When you support UI by becoming a member, you’re paying for more than just a service. So what exactly are you paying for, you may ask?
Friendship. And I don’t mean that in the stereotypical “Greek Life” -esque way, I mean that in the way in which friendships naturally come about from shared interests and activities. UI is the ultimate mutual friend, the one who brings people together to form connections through a shared desire to preserve and promote their culture, spread global acceptance, and celebrate diversity.
Involvement. Believe me, I know how hard it can be to get involved in things outside of work/school. But involvement in things outside of the home, office, and classroom is a vital component of a healthy, happy life. At UI, involvement comes in many different forms. It can be joining a club, like the International Women’s Club or the International Book Club. It can be participating in our fun events, like our upcoming Salsa at Sunset. It can be taking a language class, or even teaching one. It can be bringing a traditional dish to a potluck. Whatever your interests, there is someone to share them with.
Support. We all come from different backgrounds and experiences. For some people, living in Greenville means living far from friends, family, and home. For others, Greenville has always been home, but they are looking for something more purposeful in their lives. Support can look like many things: helping a newcomer navigate Greenville, sending flowers to a member after an injury, tutoring a member’s son in Spanish, or even just asking how someone’s week has been. UI fosters that sense of community that makes support inevitable.
A better community. At UI’s base is the desire to make the world a better place, starting here in the Upstate. By supporting UI, you’re supporting our mission of globalism, cultural acceptance, and diversity. In the end we all benefit from a more open and loving community — not just our members, but our neighbors and our children, too.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, but sometimes it’s important to nourish those aspects of life that make it a bit more meaningful — friendship, involvement, support, and community. Even though I haven’t been here long, I can already see how Upstate International has done that for so many people. Tracie, Christine, Caren, and all of our members do so much to make this quaint little house on South Memminger Street a true home away from home for the Upstate community. Here, a membership isn’t just a check or a name on a list, it’s joining a family.
If you’re a member and have any personal experiences to share, please comment! If you’re not a member but are interested in becoming one, feel free to fill out our online form or stop by our office for coffee and a chat. We’d love to hear your story and how UI can fit for you.