Today’s blog comes from one of I Love A Clean San Diego’s most tenured staff members, Morgan Justice Black, who is saying goodbye after working at ILACSD for almost a decade. Below, she reflects on her time with the organization.
In June 2006, George W. Bush was the president, the World Cup was being played in Germany, the Disney film Cars was released, and I responded to a Craiglist posting for an unpaid internship with I Love A Clean San Diego. I’m not sure how much competition I had, but I landed the internship and my story with I Love A Clean San Diego began.
After a few months, I got lucky and my supervisor moved on. Again, somehow I landed her job and became the organization’s Volunteer & Events Coordinator at the ripe old age of 22. The best part of this gig…I was getting paid! I took the reins just in time for our biggest event of the year, the 22nd Annual Coastal Cleanup Day where I had to rub elbows with the likes of Supervisor Pam Slater Price and my childhood crush, local meteorologist Loren Nancarrow.
After a year on the job, I convinced my boss Pauline that we needed more help, so we hired someone even younger than me! Fresh out of college, Natalie arrived and became my right hand woman and still to this day Natalie and Pauline are key ingredients in the secret sauce that is ILACSD. I became the Outreach Director and tried the best I could to be involved in pretty much everything with ILACSD. I helped to orchestrate annual Halloween costume parties and earned the title of craziest office cat lady, as I fed the ever-growing pack of feral kittens. As the unofficial “jill of all trades” at ILACSD in those days, I got a lot of great experience doing a little of everything!
I learned how to maximize storage in our external storage unit, do dishes in the bathroom sink, and haggle for an office truck. I also learned the value of collaboration, and through new partnerships we began working closely with other nonprofits and companies to expand our programs.
2010 was a big year for me, and for ILACSD. We restructured and I became the Director of Development & Marketing. We also moved, saying goodbye to the office kitties, and hello to our current digs in Liberty Station. Over the years, I’ve written hundreds of grants, coordinated thousands of volunteers, been on tv too many times to count, had 5 different titles and attended 10 Coastal Cleanup Days – which just happen to always fall on my birthday weekend.
In fact, in 2013, I celebrated by 30th birthday at Coastal Cleanup Day with the ILACSD team, my family, a few elected officials and hundreds of volunteers. They actually sang happy birthday to me after Supervisor Cox announced over the microphone that it was my 30th birthday!
In addition to my “day job”, ILACSD has allowed me the flexibility to pursue my passion for volunteering in the community. With their support, I spent a number of years volunteering with the Junior League of San Diego and five years ago became a member of Women Give San Diego. I’ve been able to transfer skills from volunteering into the workplace and vis versa. And I’ve been able to fulfill my desire for constant civic engagement.
This week, after more than nine years and countless chapters, the story is coming to an end, as I say goodbye to the place that I’ve spend more time in than anywhere else in my adult life. I’ve developed many friendships, countless skills, but most importantly, I’ve grown into an adult under ILACSD’s watch. I’m sad to say goodbye, but I’m happy that ILACSD has instilled in me the confidence to go after a new opportunity in which I will continue to make San Diego a better place.
Thanks to all of you who have been a part of my journey over the last decade. It’s been quite a ride!