Goals and Reflections of a Summer Intern

It’s hard to believe that my time as an intern at Campus Kitchens is almost over, I’m headed home for a visit in less than two weeks, and when I return there will only be a couple weeks left of my internship. I went into this summer with one main goal, and that was to really get to know the clients that Campus Kitchens serves. I won’t pretend that I know everyone’s name or everything about them, but I definitely think that I have learned a lot from our clients, and have begun to build what I believe will be strong and long lasting relationships with many of them, in particular I have grown close to many of the kids at the Summer Fun program, and the residents at the Manor.

I expected to love working with the kids at Summer Fun, as the majority of my service as a Bonner Scholar has been with kids in Lexington area schools, (in fact I know several of the kids in the program from previous volunteer experiences). What I did not expect, was how much I have come to love going to the Manor. The first time I went to the Manor, it was because the kid’s programs hadn’t started up yet, so I was just going with on all of the adult shifts. By the end of my first visit, I found that I really enjoyed meeting with the residents and hearing of their life experiences. I have spoken to people at the Manor who hail from all over the country and have had a vast array of different circumstances shape their lives. The time I have spent on the Manor has refreshed the importance of providing both companionship and nutritious meals in order to satisfy the needs of our clients. It has also taught me how much there is to learn from other people and their stories, more than anything else I think it has helped me understand in a deeper sense the importance of the work Campus Kitchens, and other relief agencies like it do for the communities they work in.

This summer I have gained a better understanding of the work Campus Kitchens does, as I have had the opportunity both to witness behind the scenes fundraising and administrative work, and up-front client interaction on a much larger scale. As my internship winds down, and I look toward the next school year, I hope to continue to volunteer at the Manor and at the school year’s version of Summer Fun aka Lexington Office on Youth; so that I can further develop the bonds I have formed with our clients, and continue to learn more from and about them.

Summer Intern!

This summer I will be one of the campus kitchens interns! You might being wondering who I am. My name is Emily Warner and I am a rising junior at Washington and Lee. I am a Bonner and Campus Kitchens along with The Blue Ridge Autism Center in Buena Vista are my main service placements. I served as a shift leader over this past year and decided to stay and continue to work in this organization that I love! It definitely beats sitting at a desk all summer, which I began to appreciate at my first full day on the job lifting boxes of cans donated by the W&L library.

I will serve on all of the shifts involving adults because my interest lies in the adult programming Campus Kitchens offers. This means working with mostly mentally disabled clients. I began to really enjoy doing this first semester of my sophomore year when I started going to the Rockbridge Area Occupational Center. At first, I was timid and nervous about working with this population. I did not know how to interact with them and had no experience working with this type of group. I followed the lead of the other volunteers as they grabbed a plate of food and sat down to eat with the people at the center after serving them. I began to ask them questions and have conversations with them about our lives. I soon became very comfortable and immediately began to enjoy seeing their faces every week. I learned to love and appreciate their unique quirks and likes and dislikes. It became a place for me to go and forget about all of the school work or responsibility I had back on campus. It was so easy to do because it felt like a totally different world. I left all of my worries at the door and came to eat lunch with friends every Tuesday and Thursday. Now, I get to do this all summer!

Along with leading the normal shifts, I will also be working on a project with local food pantry. I will be researching what areas surrounding Lexington are not being serviced properly by food pantries. We are doing this in an effort to expand services to those who are not accessing them now because of transportation issues and distance of the people from the nearest food pantry.  I am really excited about this project because it will give me an opportunity to get to know  the area in ways that I never would have if I mostly stayed on campus during my time at W&L, and I will be part of the effort to get help to those areas that need it most!

I will also have the opportunity to learn a little bit of how Campus Kitchens is run from the business side of things by working with Jenny in her office. I am particularly interested in grant writing as I know it is a skill I will need for a career in nonprofit management, which is what I am thinking of doing in the future.

That is about it for now. Stay tuned for more updates on what we are doing this summer!

Intern Positions Available for Local High School Students

Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee

Summer Intern Description

Application is available here.

Objective: To provide two Rockbridge County High School students with the opportunity to take on a leadership role in the Campus Kitchen’s summer operations.  Interns will have an integral part in maintaining CKWL’s operations and developing summer programming.

Purpose of the Organization/ Program:

The mission of The Campus Kitchens Project (CKP) is to use service as a way to strengthen bodies, empower minds and build communities. At the Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee (CKWL), we combat hunger and promote nutrition by recovering and reusing food that would otherwise go to waste into balanced meals for low‐income members of the community in Rockbridge County.

CKWL began in 2006 due to the dedication of a senior student, Ingrid Easton. Easton graduated before operations officially began, but her legacy lives on. In March of 2010 CKWL served their 50,000th meal in the local community. Meals are served in partnership with 15 community agencies in a manner that best serves their needs—hot congregate meals, refrigerated individual meals and most recently, backpacks of non‐perishable food supplies.

CKWL has made an impact in nutrition education locally for adults and children.  Two separate youth organization—the local YMCA summer camp and the Lexington City Office on Youth summer program—are benefiting from CKWL’s “Seed to Feed” nutrition education which links to growing food in our organic garden.

The focus of CKWL is hunger relief and leadership development, but our kitchen has become a leader in environmentally sustainable practices on campus and in the community. Each week we recycle more than 1,000 pounds of food that used to end up in landfills. The food we are unable to serve, such as scraps and leftovers, are composted. CKWL is working to reduce waste but with the additional purpose of using the available resources in our community to provide a needed service for the hungry in Rockbridge County.

For more information visit: go.wlu.edu/ckwl

Job Title or Position: Summer intern for operations and program development (2 positions available)

Expectations/ Responsibilities of the Position:

The focus of the CKWL internships are: poverty reduction, non‐profit management and sustainability.

Interns will spend 15 hrs/week for 8 weeks with the Campus Kitchen (weeks do not need to be consecutive, we will work around family vacations and/or summer camp)

Position will mold slightly to the specific interests of the intern(s) placed at CKWL.

Intern will receive a $500 stipend upon completion of the internship.

Qualifications:

Intern(s) must be able to lift at least 30 lbs. and work on their feet for significant periods of time (cooking shifts, food recovery and gardening). Intern must be willing to interact with all CKWL clients in a professional manner. Basic knowledge of Microsoft Office required. Intern must be willing to step into a leadership position as they manage volunteers at the kitchen. Prefer intern has a driver’s license.

Working Conditions:

Intern will work a regular 15‐hour week, but some hours will fall outside a 9 to 5 schedule.

Dress should be casual but not inappropriate. Closed toed shoes and sleeves (no tank tops) required for kitchen work, closed toed shoes required in the garden.

On Site Supervisor/Mentor:

CKWL Coordinator Jenny Davidson: jdavidson@wlu.edu or 540‐458‐4669

Supervision Plan:

Scheduled weekly meetings will ensure that intern and coordinator are on the same page. High School interns will always be scheduled to work with either the CK Coordinator or a CK College aged intern.

Student Visionary

Ingrid Easton '06

The Campus Kitchens Project national office gives out several awards at the annual conference gathering.  One of these awards is the Ingrid Easton Student Visionary Award, which recognizes the entrepreneurial drive in out student leaders, who dream big and make it happen.  The award is named in honor of Ingrid Easton, Washington and Lee University graduate 2006 who achieved her goal of opening a Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee University in September 2006.

Turkeypalooza 2010, Shiri Yadlin '12 is on the right.

Equally exciting with having an award named in honor of a W&L student, is that on Friday evening the annual award was given to Shiri Yadlin ’12.  Shiri has been involved as a volunteer with CKWL since her freshman year, and a key member of the Student Leadership Team ever since.  She is our Campus Outreach Intern, organizing fundraisers, food drives, and  Turkeypalooza’s Bring Your Turkey to Work Day.  Shiri also leads multiple shifts each week.

I was honored to nominate Shiri for this award, and thrilled to have the CKP staff recognize Shiri for all her hard work.  Congratulations Shiri!

“Routine is the Enemy”

There is a quote that I like from Robert Egger’s book, “Begging for Change.” It reads like these: “Routine is the enemy.” This quote strikes me because with the work that we all do at Campus Kitchen, it is not too hard to get bored with the routines that we have to do. When you have to go to the same place twice a week or meet the same group of kids every week, boredom can easily hit you. When it does, then serving others has lost its meaning.

I, for one, believe that one of the most important things in helping others lies on how one is able to build a relationship with the people that one serves. By doing so, I know how they feel, what are their needs, etc. In other words, through the relation that I have with the people that I serve, I can put myself in their shoes. What this allows me is to better appreciate the work that I do and the extent of it. Thus, when boredom hits, helping others loses its essence. It will only make one does the work out of necessity.

Having to do the same routine of works for eight weeks could easily lead me to dullness. I must admit, I did experience that for some time, especially in the middle of internship. I was disinterested to relate with the clients and grew tired because of the same trips that I had to make. I close myself to those who I served. This was not something that I did not see coming. In the beginning of the internship, just like a kid who just found a new toy, I was so fired up with all the tasks that I needed to do. At that point, though, I also realized that it would be pretty hard to keep the same level of excitement throughout the internship. At one point or another, I probably would come to the point where I would get bored—surely enough it was true.

Then, I encountered Egger’s quote. He talks about it in the context that it is important for leaders to create new leaders in youth and “break the routine” of complacency. This quote for me matters more in a sense of, as I mentioned before, having to do the same thing for a long period of time. There is another point that Egger mentions that also alludes to me: the importance of passion. That was when I realized that the work that I did this summer was not about me, but it was about the people that I serve. Thus, it was important to find a way to not get bored. The main solution that I found to be the most helpful was to open myself to new experience throughout the summer. For instance, I talked to new clients whenever I was able to do so and tried to find one new thing every day of the internship. During the cooking shift, I tried to do new things—I made a pasta sauce for the first time in my life. Thus, what needs to be reiterated here is that often times, boredom is something that will happen. However, it is something that everybody could prevent from happening.

Whether it is an eight-week-long internship or weekly volunteering, I believe that boredom could come at anytime. It is important to deal with this issue. Otherwise, I don’t think helping others will give any meanings. How you cope with that will matter the most. In the end, routine IS the enemy; but, it is not something that is inevitable. There are ways to get away from it. Mine is by making myself open for new experiences. What is yours?

From a Volunteer’s Perspective

Mohammed Ali once said, “Service to others is the payment you make for your space here on earth.”

       I find great truth in this quote, and it’s exactly what inspired me to start volunteer work. The payment I make for my space on earth is my service to the Campus Kitchen Project. As an organization here at W&L, the Campus Kitchen and its volunteers do so much for the people around them. It may seem like a lot of work, but at the end of the day, the volunteers can look back and think humbly about all of the people that they’ve aided.

    In the part-time internship that I do with Campus Kitchen, I am able to experience all the different parts of what makes this organization successful.

    In the morning, other volunteers and I get to go to the campus garden and tend to the plants that we grow. After a morning’s work of weeding and watering, you can feel and see the improvement that has been made.

    Shortly after that, we get to go see the beautiful people over at RAOC. Nothing has been more gratifying in this program than for me to have the opportunity to interact with these people. It makes the work well worth it.

    The next trip we make is to Summer Fun at the Community Center. Here, we teach children about the benefits of buying and eating locally grown fruits and vegetables. We teach them lessons about the foods that we bring for them to sample. Helping increase awareness about the benefits of local food is a fantastic thing to do, especially for children.

    To finish off the day at Campus Kitchen, we return to the kitchen and prepare food to be used at a later date. Knowing that you’re making food with mostly donated products makes for a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Using what has been graciously donated to us to cook and serve, is a way of killing two birds with one stone. You use food that would’ve otherwise been thrown away, and feed people in need.

    In conclusion, the time that I’ve spent this summer devoting my time to Campus Kitchen has made for one of the best times of my life. It’s all thanks to the wonderful people, specifically Jenny Davidson, who make this organization possible. I was able to meet great people who also have a passion for volunteering, and I got to make a difference in my community. 

So what are you waiting for? Make your payment for your space here on earth, and VOLUNTEER:)

More than Just Recovering Food

What started out as just a typical Thursday Wal-Mart recovery shift turned into an interesting one as we kept on hauling in boxes and boxes of 15 oz. eggs. By the time Jenny summed up the numbers, we found out that today we received 425 lbs. of eggs. That was quite a lot of eggs! (Jenny said that this has still not beaten the previous record held during graduation day). It actually took us longer to sort through them. When we were finished, Lauren counted that we have donated 2,160 eggs!

This staggering number made me think. What if we had not gotten those eggs? What if the recovery shift was never established? Would the eggs just go to a landfill? True, there were some broken ones, but they were only a small portion compared to the good ones. (We actually donated 12 boxes of eggs to RARA after we were done). Thus, we actually “saved” these eggs from going to the landfill.

As a society, we waste a lot of food. According to an article written by Jess Ramos, “County Trash has a dirty history,” Rockbridge County, Lexington, and Buena Vista throw away about 50,000 tons of trash in the landfill (http://journalism.wlu.edu/indepth/2009/Landfill/trashtravels.html). Had these eggs not been recovered, they essentially would have turned into waste. It is quite shameful that this otherwise perfectly good food could have been thrown away. Last month, Campus Kitchen received close to 5000 lbs. of food donation. If we multiply that number by twelve, it will account for 0.06% of the total annual waste in the area. Sure, that is not a high number; but, if we are to look deeper, Campus Kitchen manages to divert that 0.06% from a landfill and use it to feed people.

Thus, I think it is also important that we not only see Campus Kitchen as an organization that is able to turn donated, often unused, food into meals that would help others, but also as an entity that contributes to the environment by reducing community waste  that gets sent to the dumpster. So, the next time you are sorting through the eggs, remember that not only we will get to serve other people from the donations, but we also help reduce the amount of waste that we produce.

Meet the Interns

This summer CKWL is excited to have five interns on board with our program.  Throughout the summer they’ll be stepping up into leadership roles and sharing their experience here on the blog.  Without further delay, the INTERNS:

Lauren Theis is a rising junior at Rice University, majoring in Political Science with minors in Global Health Technologies and Poverty, Justice, and Human Capabilities, and is extremely excited about interning at the Campus Kitchen Project this summer. Though she was born and raised in Texas, Lauren aspires to travel the country and the wider international community to alleviate inequalities in health and wellbeing.

  Ivan Titaleyis a rising junior at Berea College, majoring in Chemistry with a minor in Sustainability and Environmental Studies. Although born in San Francisco, California, he grew up in Indonesia where he developed a love for basketball (as a player) and cooking Indonesian cuisine (as both a cook and connoisseur). He likes watching movies and listening to music. Some of his favorite cartoon characters are: Tintin, Asterix & Obelix, and Tom & Jerry.  Homemade spaghetti is his favorite food.

Sarah Coleman is 15 years old and a rising Junior at Rockbridge County High School.  She loves photography and speaks Chinese.  Sarah has volunteered with the Campus Kitchen in the past and is looking forward to this internship!

Tomas McBrayer is a rising junior at Rockbridge County High School.  Tomas is excited to be working at the Campus Kitchen to give back, especially since he feels he has been given so much.  When he isn’t at the kitchen, Tomas is working at Salerno’s or at the pool.

Laura Steitz is a Senior Classics Major and a  Poverty and Human Capability Studies minor, from Baton Rouge Louisiana. On campus, Laura is involved with the Bonner Scholar Program, Peer Counsling, RUF, Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, Nabors Service League, and the Student Recruitment Committee.  In addition to working in the Kitchen this summer, she is also participating in an archeological dig in Rome, Italy. Her goal for the summer is to create a closer connection with members of the community through Campus Kitchens.

Magnolia Center Visit #4

My fourth trip to the Magnolia Center was largely spent talking to an employee. We talked about the nature of the members’ poverty. She explained that there is a great range of income levels among the clients. Some come from very wealthy backgrounds, while some are income poor. Many of the members of the Magnolia Center live in three of the Rockbridge area’s four group homes.
Because I spent most of the time serving food and talking to the employee, I wasn’t able to communicate much with the clients. However, this visit reinforced what I proposed in earlier entries: income poverty is not the main problem the Magnolia center seeks to alleviate. Although the Magnolia Center does an admirable job attempting to increase the capability of the members, the caretakers of the members enjoy the majority of the benefits of the center. Full-time caretaking is a tremendous responsibility; the Magnolia Center attempts to lessen this responsibility, allowing caretakers to work and enjoy time separate from their dependents. These caretakers, as I mentioned earlier, are not necessarily parents. The Magnolia Center also reduces the burden of care shared by the employees at group homes, allowing these employees to focus their energies on needier inhabitants.

My First Three Magnolia Center Visits!

Hi!  My name is Isaac, and I am a Sophomore at W&L.  I’ll be blogging for the next couple of months about my service at the Magnolia Center in Buena Vista, VA.  I am doing service for Poverty 102, a service-based, supplementary class to Poverty 101.  Over the course of this semester, I will be blogging about my experiences at the Magnolia Center, and how these experiences relate to scholarly understandings of American poverty, and issues of poverty discussed in Poverty 101.

9/18/10

My first experience at the Magnolia Center was very similar to my experience at the Rockbridge Area Occupational Center.  Although the Magnolia Center was significantly cleaner, and the employees were friendlier and more available, my interactions with the Magnolia Center clientele were nearly identical to my interactions with the clientele at RAOC; it was, as I expected, difficult to talk to people about their backgrounds and their life experiences.  Whether it was because of a distrust of a white, male, Washington and Lee student, or because of mental incapacity to move beyond the exchange of “hellos,” I was unable to coax any sort of discussion out of anyone.  However, I am hoping that over the course of the semester, my continuous presence will make the people at the Magnolia Center increasingly comfortable and more willing to talk about their lives.

I am dealing with capability poverty rather than financial poverty; most of the people at the Magnolia Center are incapable of functioning alone.  Few people work, and those who can work do so only with an aide.  It seems to me that there is no way to increase the capability of these people; the Magnolia Center serves more as a caretaking facility than as a center aimed at helping the clientele become functioning, capable individuals.  Perhaps the function of the Magnolia Center is to increase the capability of the families or full-time caretakers of the mentally disabled people by freeing their time during the week.

9/25/10

My second visit to the Magnolia Center was very similar to my first visit.  I have, however, built up a foundation of trust among at least two of the members.  I had extensive conversations with two of the more highly functioning clients.  “Ruby” and I spoke for several minutes about her week and her plans for the weekend.  I learned later that “Ruby” easily develops crushes, and appears to be developing a crush on me.   “Ruby” lives with her parents, but comes to the Magnolia Center during the week.  It is important for her working parents to be free of the burden of taking care of “Ruby” during the week.  This reinforces my thesis from my first journal: because it is impossible to significantly increase the capability of most members of the Magnolia Center, the center serves more to increase the capability of the members’ caretakers.

I also spoke with “Ron,” who is incredibly knowledgeable about football.  He follows the Washington and Lee Generals very closely, listening to each game day broadcast.  “Ron” is blind, but he painted me a tremendously vivid picture of the final game of the Redskin’s game last week.  I encouraged him to listen to other sports on WLUR, as I broadcast several sports for the Washington and Lee radio station.  Beyond his blindness, “Ron” had an obvious mental disorder.  Though it took him quite a while to articulate his descriptions of various football games, he was able to do so.  I believe that “Ron” is one person whose capability can be greatly improved through the Magnolia Center’s programming.  Despite his blindness, “Ron” could certainly perform some sort of menial work.  I did not ask if he is currently working, but I plan on doing so next week.

The Magnolia Center puts on a Christmas play every year.  I certainly plan on attending this year.  “John” showed me the script for the play and pointed out his part in the play.  He seemed to be thrilled to participate in the play.  I believe that though the Magnolia Center can sometimes do very little to increase its members’ capability, it can increase their happiness.  Nearly all members seem to attain great joy from participating in activities like the Christmas play and from socializing with volunteers and with other members.

10/2/10

My third visit to the Magnolia Center was very different from the first two visits: rather than speaking mostly with clients, I spoke extensively with one of the employees, inquiring about the Magnolia Center’s funding.  The employee informed me that the Magnolia Center receives significant state funding.  In fact, she almost considers herself a state employee; the Magnolia Center and its employees must follow state rules and regulations.  The center also receives support from private donors, and from some of the members’ SSI payments.  Furthermore, some of the clients of the Magnolia Center pay a small monthly fee to attend the center.  I am unsure if the paying members of the Magnolia Center are wealthy enough to pay to attend, or simply do not qualify for SSI, which contributes to the Magnolia Center.

This Friday, my sister came to Lexington and volunteered at the Magnolia Center with me.  It was interesting to see how she interacted with the members; it was clear that the members were more comfortable with me than with my sister.  I am excited that I have been able to get to know some of the clients, and I look forward to seeing how those relationships will grow over the course of the semester.

Because I have a difficult time communicating with the clients at the Magnolia Center, next week I plan on asking the employees about the socio-economic backgrounds of the members.  Information about the members will tell me more about the nature of the poverty of the clients; at this point, I understand that all the members are capability poor, but I want to know if they are all capability poor.

Thanks for reading!