Meet our two summer interns, Wylie and Cate, who share their first impressions of working at Food Lifeline, as we work to stop hunger.
Wylie Mao is one our two summer interns, working with us through the Bank of America Student Leaders Program. Over the next few weeks, he will be blogging about his experiences as he works with different facets of our organization.
Having grown up in Shoreline and just recently graduated from Shorecrest High School, Food Lifeline is an organization with which I am familiar. For the Shoreline community, most all of us at some point have volunteered with Food Lifeline. However, it wasn’t until the first day at my internship that I even grazed the surface of understanding the work Food Lifeline does.
In my first week alone, I worked with our office manager, Melanie, in carrying out daily administrative tasks by scanning business and documents, and learned about the work that goes into raising public rapport through social media. Then I saw the logistics that went into coordinating a volunteer force–one that is 9,000-person-strong–and later that day, worked a shift sorting food with 22 of them.
Helping with the Public Policy office and the Grocery Rescue team came next, and with it came an increased understanding of the many complexities of recovering excess food from the food industry, assuring food accessibility remains a political priority, and the work that is done to keep our democratic process fair. My internship also falls neatly into the time frame of the annual, Food Frenzy. I had the opportunity to communicate with some of the nearly 100 companies that rally together each year to support Food Lifeline’s cause, raising funds and volunteering their time in a friendly competition with one another.
After a week filled to the brim with learning opportunities and meeting people from across the organization, on Friday I got to the office at 5:30am to ride along in a Food Lifeline truck on a Grocery Rescue run, working alongside the dedicated team of early-rising drivers that visit dozens of grocery stores in the Puget Sound area each morning to recover nutritious food that is otherwise wasted.
My job at Food Lifeline is an employment experience unlike I’ve ever had. Over the next few weeks, I’m excited to discover the many more things working at Food Lifeline will help me learn and finding where I can make a lasting contribution of my own–to the organization and to the many thousands of people to whom Food Lifeline is dedicated to serving.
Cate Guyman is our second summer intern, who comes to us through the Teens in Public Service (TIPS) program. She will be interning with our Office Manager, Melanie, and learning a variety of front desk tasks.
When I showed up at Food Lifeline Shoreline offices for my initial meeting with Food Lifeline’s office manager and my future supervisor Melanie, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know much about my internship, but I was curious as to how a successful non- profit functions under the surface. The first thing that struck me both at my first meeting with Melanie and later at the all staff meeting was the friendly and enthusiastic environment at Food Lifeline. The employees here truly support each other and it’s obvious that they care deeply about their jobs as well as about feeding the hungry.
These aspects of the environment at Food Lifeline have also come through as I learn my role at the company. As a receptionist, I sort through mail and answer phone calls as well as other front desk activities. Before interning here, I had never realized what a complicated process doing the mail was! However I need not have worried as everyone was extremely supportive and helpful as I figured out the ropes, coming up with ready responses to my million questions. They were also very patient even when I answered the phone with “Good Lifeline, Food Morning!” Instead of the usual “Good Morning, Food Lifeline!” They also refrained from laughing when I paged departments for phone calls that were nonexistent (apparently Food Agency Distribution is not a thing…)
Perhaps the spirit of Food Lifeline comes through in the little actions each day, such as singing everyone Happy Birthday at the all staff meeting, employees bringing coworkers coffee while they’re dedicating their time to staying late, or celebrating the Fourth of July with a picnic featuring only red, white, and blue foods. I look forward to a summer working with people that are passionate about their mission, work hard to fulfill it, and all the while figure out ways to have fun and support one another.