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!