My 5 Email Response Pet Peeves

Published May 3, 2010 by heatherksmith

From bigpresh on Flickr

I should start out by saying I by no means consider myself an internet or social media etiquette guru. But I am an expert on things that irritate me. I bet you can relate to some of my gripes, like these:

My 5 E-mail Response Pet Peeves

1. The ‘Half Answer’

Hello Professor John Doe,
Did you receive the paper I e-mailed you? Also, would it be possible to get another copy of the syllabus?

Yes, I received your paper. 


So does that mean I can’t get another syllabus? Fresh out? Did you miss that part? Is there a 1 answer limit to your messages? You do realize I’m going to e-mail you again, right?

2.  The ‘Work Around the Question’

Hello Mr. X,
I know that biology 101 is required to graduate. Would it be possible to substitute chemistry? If so, how do I go about doing this?

It is possible to substitute certain classes to make graduation requirements.

Mr. X

Soooooo, I take that as a yes? That’s what you meant, right?

3. The’ Blatant Avoidance’

Hello Mr. Smith from Tech Support,
I e-mailed you a few weeks ago about my computer problem. The steps you told me to follow didn’t work. I’ve tried to get into contact with for the past 3 weeks by phone and e-mail. What’s going on? What should I do?

Hello customer.

Your inquiry has been sent to a new representative. They will be with you soon.

Customer Support

What happened to Mr. Smith? Did he quit or something?  I’m beginning to think you guys don’t know the answer. Are you avoiding me? If you don’t know the answer, please just tell me that. I’ll never e-mail you again, I promise. Because I’ll be e-mailing someone that can fix the problem!

4. The ‘One-Worder’

Hello Mr. Smith,
Do you have all of the information you need from me? If not, I’d be more than happy to provide you with more.


Well, at least you answered the question. Did you have a major scheduling conflict that prevented your from typing a full sentence? Just didn’t feel like talking much today? You may as well have not answered at all, which leads me to…

5. The’ Oh-So-Common No Reply’

Hello Sir,
I’m inquiring as to whether or not you received my application and resume. Is the position still open?


Um, did you get my message? Or is this a way to tell me I’ve been rejected? Could you at least take the minute to type out and send “We did receive your information, but the position has been filled. Good luck on your job search.”

Thanks for listening to my ranting. It feels good to have gotten that off my chest.


I Won’t Be Blind to 39.8 Million

Published March 29, 2010 by heatherksmith

My tendency to drift off into thought was in high effect this weekend while I pulled weeds at Steele Indian School Park in honor of Cesar Chavez Day with HandsOn Greater Phoenix. With each pull I reminisced about home, thought about grad school in Denver, wondered how it was possible I was sweating and getting sunburnt in March, and craved some boneless wings from Applebee’s. The usual.

My mind eventually wandered to poverty. Part of the VISTA experience is living below the poverty line. For the past 7 months, I’ve been living off of a modest stipend and grocery shopping with food stamps. I suppose you could call me poor, and every so often things get a little frustrating (Remember my post about my car’s transmission going out? Well, that still isn’t fixed). But being single, no children, and in my 20-somethings, I’ve been able to make it work just fine.

What I mainly pondered over as I uprooted desert weeds was the fact that so many people look negatively at and stereotype the impoverished. Honestly, it’s something that now breaks my heart.

I’m sure you’ve heard it. “Why don’t they just get a job?” “They’re  living off the government.” “They’re just too lazy to work.” “Waste of my tax dollars.” It goes far beyond words…

When you were a little kid, did your parents want you playing at the ‘poor kid’s’ house? Was that kid and his/her family considered ‘dirty?’ What about that family you knew with an alcoholic parent? That was their problem, right? How about when you see someone begging on the street? Do you just look past them, pretend they’re not there?

Some of the most recent data I found regarding poverty came from a press release from the US Census Bureau in September of 2009 . According to their research, about 13.2% of americans lived below the poverty level in 2008. That means nearly 39.8 million people were living in poverty!

Could that possibly be each of their own faults? Do you really think they’re all  purposely trying to ‘just live off the government?’ Maybe there are some people out there who try to slide by and live off of benefits or have managed to put themselves in financial despair. But I don’t believe there are over 39 million.

Think about that ‘poor kid’ who you weren’t suppose to play with. Was it their fault they were born into poverty? No, it wasn’t.  It wouldn’t be their fault if it was because their mother or father had an alcohol or gambling addiction either. 

The people on the streets are really there, even if you try not to see them. Do you believe they choose to sleep on the streets and beg? Do you trully think that they are ‘just too lazy’ to provide a home for their children? I don’t.

I also don’t believe it’s that easy for someone to ‘just get a job.’  If you had someone in tattered clothing you expected of living on the streets walk into your restaurant/store asking for a job, would your hire them? I don’t doubt that there are people out there that would, but be completely honest with yourself. Would you?

I’m no expert on poverty, and I’ve only been living below the poverty line for a few months. Like I said, I’m making it work just fine (food, a warm house, and a little bit of money on the side). My family went through some rought times when I was a kid, but my mother and father were always able to provide for me. I also know that if I really needed it, my mother could help me now. Sadly, that’s not the case for everyone.

I was fortunate. I still am very fortunate. But I refuse to be blind to the 39.8 million that aren’t. I’m proud to be spending this year trying to make a difference.

Moved by the phote? Check out more by Ed Yourdon here.

A Course I Wish Had Been Required

Published March 15, 2010 by heatherksmith

I was never a fan of math or science. Those were my least favorite hours of the day in high school. Nonetheless, I knew it was important for me to understand biology and algebra, whether or not they were my ‘cup of tea.’ Those courses are required for a reason, after all.

Since I started with the Arizona Grantmakers Forum in August, I began wondering why another subject hasn’t been more emphasized in the curriculum (or been included in many curriculums at all for that matter). Teaching this course could eventually alleviate poverty, end homelessness, put an end to world hunger, and the list goes on and on and on.

Ever wonder why you didn’t study philanthropy?…..I do…..

True, some of you might have touched on the subject during your days at K-12. But how extensively did you go into the topic? How many of your guidance counselors pushed you to study philanthropy in college, or even further, recommended you pursue a philanthropic career?

I like to think everyone is naturally a bit of a philanthropist. Why not build on it?

 Take a look at our resources for Educators and Youth Leaders on the AGF website. This includes Learning to Give, a site providing lesson plans for implementing philanthropy in every K-12 subject based on state standards throughout the country and Games for Change, a collection of video games that interactively teach about world issues (Become a 3rd World Farmer or experience the challenges of a global refugee).

I also recommend taking a look at our resources for Young and Emerging Leaders for links to philanthropy programs at the university level throughout the nation.

 I hope you find our resources helpful. If you have any suggestions, we’d love to hear them!

Hello, I’m Gen Y

Published February 22, 2010 by heatherksmith

I’m part of Generation Y, but I didn’t know until I joined the workforce. The Gen Y kids have apparently caused quite the stir in the office. I’ve learned plenty about ‘myself’ over the past few months. Even though I fit into the age range, I definitely don’t fit all the stereotypes. So, I’d like to clear a few things up.

Just because I use an iPod, laptop, and Blackberry doesn’t mean I can fix all your IT problems. Trust me, I wish I could. But leave that to the experts of the IT department.

No, I do not feel ‘entitled’ to that corner office and six-figure salary. My parents taught me nothing comes without hard work and dedication. I’m very well aware that just because I have a degree, doesn’t mean I’m going to have a career handed to me. I need experience, and that comes from working from the bottom up.

I will not scoff at workplace policy. I won’t wear flip-flops, mini skirts, or holey jeans to the office. I’m also not going to call in ‘sick’ because I’m hung over or don’t feel like working. Oh, and be assured you won’t find any incriminating photos on my Facebook Page.

I’m not perfect and have plenty to learn. But please remember I am me, not just another Gen Y kid.

The Answer

Published February 6, 2010 by heatherksmith

Not one of my usual posts, but this song kinda hit me. Amazing how you can relate to some things, isn’t it?

Automatic Loveletter, The Answer

From ocean to sky
Summer and fall
I have been there though it all
From laughing and crying
To pain that comes easy
From shades of gray meaning
That turn out so sweetly
I wonder when
I wonder what I’ll find…

I look up to the sun
It only hurts my eyes
Maybe it’s the answer
I’ve been wanting in disguise
The more you are with me
The more that I’m alone
I don’t need the answer I already know

Subtle and grace
Desperate for change
My hand moves away
Melt dry eyes for days
Something’s not right
Smiles and tantrums
Hit the ground running
It’s all over and been done
I wonder when
I wonder I’ll find…

I look up to the sun
It only hurts my eyes
Maybe it’s the answer
I’ve been wanting in disguise
The more you are with me
The more that I’m alone
I don’t need the answer I already know

What happens next?
We’ll stop and go
The promise has already run cold
So now you know
So now you know

I look up to the sun
It only hurts my eyes
Maybe it’s the answer
I’ve been wanting in disguise
The more you are with me
The more that I’m alone
I don’t need the answer
The answer

I look up to the sun
It only hurts my eyes
Maybe it’s the answer
I’ve been wanting in disguise
The more you are with me
The more that I’m alone
I don’t need the answer I already know

26 Miles and 4.5 Tons Later

Published February 1, 2010 by heatherksmith

If you’re from Phoenix, you’ve probably heard of PF Chang’s Rock & Roll Marathon. You’re probably also thinking, “That was  nearly a month ago.”

Even though all the runners have crossed the finish line and the bands are finished playing, there is still something from the race still going strong: The clothes.

Have you even seen a marathon? If so, you probably noticed all the sweaters, gloves, stocking hats, etc. that are left on the sides of the road. Considering the runners would need to backtrack over ten or twenty miles to retrieve their warm ups, they tend to get left there.

That’s where the volunteers come in.

During Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, Keep Phoenix Beautiful recruited volunteers for the “Clothing Recycling Project.” Around 100 of us were there, bright and early, to pick up the clothes left by the runners. After we gathered and bagged everything, it was donated to a nearby homeless shelter.

The donations surpassed a few sweaters and hats. Just at the starting line, we collected two city truckloads of clothes. All together, 4.5 tons were donated!

Weekend well spent! Pretty creative way to give back to the community! Makes you wonder what other  types of opportunities to give back are out there that we just haven’t thought of yet.

A Message from a Small Town Girl

Published January 16, 2010 by heatherksmith

I graduated from a class of 26. My hometown had a population of 1,200. My mother and my best friend spent their days of elementary school in a one-room country school.

There was no mall, not even a Wal-Mart, for 45 miles. There were no stop lights. I often passed tractors on the highway during the summer.

I’m from South Dakota, and to quote Journey, “I’m just a small town girl.”

And defensive about it when I need to be.

I love travelling; near, far, it doesn’t matter. I’ve been lucky enough to visit cities like San Diego and New York City (Might I say, the San Diego Zoo and Broadway, two of my favorite memories). I’ve been an exchange student in Japan and Mexico, spent a summer interning in Minneapolis, and if you haven’t caught on from the rest of my blog entries, I’m now living in Phoenix and serving a year with the AmeriCorps VISTA.

It seems that no matter where I go, once I utter the phrase, “I’m from South Dakota,” there’s always someone who does it.  Wondering what ‘it’ is? Here are some examples:

“You’re from South Dakota? I’ve heard that everybody hates it there and is trying to get out.”
“Most of the rednecks must be congregated in the small towns.”
“Do you live on a farm? hahah! Do you have cows? hahaha”

These are all things directly said to my face. To clear a few things up, no, most of the people living in SD are perfectly content (Otherwise, they’d move), there are no colonies of rednecks and I am not from a farm, but quite a bit of my friends and family are, and they’re some of the hardest working and succesful people you’ll meet.

Don’t think its only absurd questions.  From my time as an exchange student, I’ve had plenty assumptions made about me and my education by other US students. Apparently, it’s not ‘cool’ to be from a small town, and even though I was in college, it wasn’t worth much, being from South Dakota and all. I guess  Tom Brokaw missed that memo. There were other exchange kids from towns my size, but oddly tried to avoid mentioning it and distanced themselves from me when they found out my small-town roots.

Oh, and the third comment about the ‘farm and the cows,’ came from fellow South Dakotans! Another pet peeve of mine is people saying ‘it’s different when you live in Rapid City or Sioux Falls.’ No, that is also South Dakota, and just because those places are more populated, it doesn’t make it better than the rest of the state.  My home town was founded by the railroad in the 1800’s. The area is filled with farms, some of which have been in families for generations. The area has always had a small population, not because there’s something wrong with it, but because that’s the way it’s always been. Ask most of the people who live in the area, and they’ll probably tell you they wouldn’t want it any other way.

Quite honestly, it makes me sad that some people are so naïve and uneducated that they would make those assumptions. (Sometimes the assumptions do give me a good laugh though. Check out Texts from Last Night).  Back on subject, I feel sorry for anyone that is embarassed to say they’re from a small town. If anything, its something unique, BE PROUD!

I will admit that this is a two-way road. I won’t deny feeling a bit scared my first time in New York City that I might get mugged, and I have jumped the gun on assuming that some urbanites I’ve met were just bound to be elitists who’ve probably never seen a real hard day’s work before. Perhaps, sometimes, I can be a little bit of a ‘ruralist.’

I must also say, I’ve heard a good share of positive stereotypes about my midwestern upbringing, which I love! More than once people have commented they’re ‘excited to be around someone from an area with such a good work ethic,’ and that people from the Dakota’s must have still have that great ‘pioneer mentality.’

Push come to shove, we all just need to realize that no certain way is better, whether rural, suburban or urban. There’s a good chance someone raised in a metro area wouldn’t think it be fun to hang out with my brother in his ice shack or tree stand all day. In retrospect, he’s probably not interested in hitting up the mall or club scene. Different strokes for different folks.

After Phoenix, I’ll be heading to grad school in Denver. Who knows where I’ll end up after. I love the city, but sometimes I really miss the small-town street dances and ‘mom and pop’ restaurants.  We’ll have to see. Until then, I promise to try to not be such a ruralist, if  you promise not judge this ‘small town girl.’ 🙂