Community Service Blog

Service with a Smile

Earlier this month, the S/RC Fellows finished their nine week immersion into the nonprofit and grant making worlds. This culminated with an inspirational final presentation at the Boston Foundation, where Marissa, Leah and Jen shared their transformative experiences. Beyond the access to motivational leaders, philanthropic staff and all areas of nonprofit management, the fellowship experience also included having the chance to do direct service at their community partner placements. This became an important piece to their understanding of the impact of direct client interaction and contact for the successful nonprofit manager. Leah Berk, 2014 MBA Candidate worked with the Women's Lunch Place where she administered a guestsatisfaction survey along with creating donor files for development. She also had the opportunity to work in the WLP kitchen, and although she sees herself as more of a "back of the house" administrator she found great satisfaction in her direct service here. Here are some thoughts she shared about her kitchen experience.

My uncle, a former chef and consummate storyteller, used to regale us children with tales from his kitchen days. Based on his stories, I grew up thinking that commercial kitchens were highly stressful places where, as my uncle put it, "everyone has a knife - and knows how to use it." Not so at the Women's Lunch Place (WLP), a Boston-based day shelter for poor and homeless women,that serves breakfast and lunch to approximately 200 women and children, six days a week. I recently volunteered at the WLP kitchen and was amazed by what I saw. There was a zen-like concentration among the kitchen workers (nearly all volunteers) as they served food, washed dishes and wiped down counters. Josh, the WLP chef and kitchen coordinator, was warm and welcoming. He patiently explained my volunteer duties and came to check on me periodically. My job was to peel and chop carrots for a salad. As I approached the prep station, a fellow volunteer handed me a potato peeler and introduced himself to me. Other volunteers at the prep station followed suit, introducing themselves and giving me directions as needed. The process was seamless. When one task ended a more seasoned volunteer prepared for the next, always stopping to explain the new process to us newcomers. Having both volunteered and managed volunteers, I can say from experience that not all operations run as smoothly as the WLP kitchen. What makes the WLP special is that every volunteer is immediately treated as a member of the team. As an aspiring nonprofit professional, I found the culture of inclusion and ownership among the WLP volunteers both inspiring and instructive. Interested in volunteering at the Women's Lunch Place? click here

Thanks Leah!