Community Service Blog

A2CE Student Reflection - Women's Lunch Place

Natalie Lowell reflects on her experience with A2CE a multiyear service and leadership development opportunity for Simmons undergraduates through which she spent four years with the Women's Lunch Place.


I roll over, turn off my alarm and realize it's a Friday, which means I'm on the T by 6:30am in order to get to Newbury Street. I get off at Arlington and walk to the basement door of the Church of the Covenant. The women outside smoking their morning cigarette, the women inside opening their worn books and the regular volunteers greet me on my way to the kitchen. Chef Josh, still in his cycling gear, updates me with what needs to be prepared first. I plug-in my iPhone's 90's playlist and dive into the bustle of the kitchen, singing the chorus to our favorite tunes. I may not be a morning person, but serving breakfast at the Women's Lunch Place for the past 4 years has made me appreciate an early start.
I began my freshman year knowing that I wanted to graduate with a resume that included long-term volunteering. I wanted to leave an impact at one field site but I didn't know where or how to start. Scott/Ross Center's A2CE program coordinated my field site, led reflection sessions and encouraged me to integrate my education in a capstone project. Because I had an interest in medical school and nutrition, I was offered a position as a kitchen assistant in the Women's Lunch Place. My first year and a half, I was working exclusively in the kitchen with the chef, Josh, and the other weekly volunteers. As we became more aware of the workings of the kitchen, my A2CE peers and I explored the inner workings of a non-profit. We worked in the development office where we coordinated advertising efforts for the Mother's Day Card Campaign. In my final semesters, I have passed into my senior capstone phase where I am analyzing the nutritional quality of the average meal with peers from my Advanced Community Nutrition course. My experience at WLP has spanned further than I could imagine because of the encouragement and guidance from A2CE.
A2CE provided direction on how nonprofits work, assisted with minor funding requests and motivated me to continue to serve. Although many semesters my class-load was tight with five courses, additional labs, and jobs, I made a commitment to carve out time in my busy schedule. My peers, Allison Whittier and Danielle Erhnstein and I coordinated to work the 7am-10am morning shift once per week because we wanted to stay engaged with the women. Although the shifts were early, our semesters were busy and the work was tiring, we were committed to our mission and that of WLP and A2CE. At times, I felt overwhelmed with the idea of the work to come, but in reflection, I am proud of how much I have accomplished.
My experience with A2CE has allowed me to further my education in Nutrition and Dietetics, boost my resume for prospective medical school and instilled a sense of pride in the availability and use of Boston local food resources. My position at WLP and the guidance provided by A2CE has allowed me so many interdisciplinary opportunities to leave something meaningful. I look forward to what this final semester will allow. I have been so grateful for the program and believe it is a worthwhile chance for anyone looking to leave an impact outside of the classroom.