Delaney Murray will graduate from Northeastern University in December with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political Science. Below, Murray describes the behind the scenes of the co-op she started in January as a communications, fundraising and development co-op with Roxbury Main Streets, a nonprofit in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston.
I have held several communications and philanthropic roles — from a public information co-op with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, to volunteering for the Neighborhood Food Project chapter in my hometown. My experiences have landed me at the intersection of those two fields as a communications co-op with Roxbury Main Streets, but my appreciation for nonprofit and communications work developed far before my professional career began.
In my job at 16 years old, I was put in charge of preventing theft at a clothing consignment store. I was wildly ill-equipped for such a task. The store was based in an underserved neighborhood in Southern Oregon, facing 10 thefts a night on average. My team felt unsafe, and I had no idea what to do.
So, I decided to ask. “Why are you doing this?” I asked someone who stole from us frequently.
To my surprise, the man apologized to me. He told me he became homeless after getting in a car accident that resulted in him becoming unemployed. He said he was scared he would not survive the winter and had no idea what to do. That sounded familiar. I asked, “What can I do to help you?”
That day, I learned that the best way to help people is to ask them what they need. I have dedicated my professional career to talking to people, telling their stories to the leaders and organizations that are there to help and ensuring services reach every person in need. That passion and experience brought me to Roxbury Main Streets.
Roxbury Main Streets is a nonprofit based in Nubian Square that works hands-on with residents, local businesses and government agencies to revitalize and diversify Roxbury’s economy. Similar to the community I worked in as a teenager, Roxbury is an underserved neighborhood, and it bears the brunt of poverty in Boston. Roxbury Main Streets takes action by supporting small and minority-owned businesses, cultivating job growth and engaging the Roxbury community.
In my role, I frequently design, write and edit media, with some of my specialties including press releases, newsletters and flyers. I have been preparing for Roxbury Main Streets’ most popular annual fundraiser, The ‘Bury Funny Stand-Up Comedy Show. Fundraisers have many moving parts, but I have been focused on finding sponsors for the show and promoting the event and its spectacular lineup of Boston-based comedians.
One of the highlights of my co-op thus far was interviewing comedian Corey Manning, the host of the May 13 comedy show. Manning has been featured on NBC’s “Family Feud” and Jamie Foxx’s “Laffapalooza: New Faces in Comedy,” and he doubles as a mentor for substance abuse prevention. He loves Roxbury’s diverse cultures and soul food.
“I don’t think you will see a comedic lineup this diverse and critically acclaimed performing in Boston, it’s going to be a special night,” Manning told me. “I love the Roxbury community’s energy.” Tickets for the show are available at buryfunny.eventbrite.com.
One of the organization’s efforts I admire the most are our weekly business walkthroughs with government and community partners. Every Thursday, Roxbury Main Streets brings together representatives from Boston Police, public health, inspectional services, public works and transit police to walk through Nubian Square and speak directly with community members and business owners about their needs, new trends and events.
The group is able to provide support in real-time. Nubian Square business owners know each of the representatives by name, and most importantly, they know people are there to help.
The next time the Oregon man came into our store, he sparked up a conversation with me, rather than try to steal, and I gave him a bag of donated clothes. I am so fortunate to have evolved from that experience to where I am today — serving the Roxbury community and helping make lasting change with Roxbury Main Streets.