After moving to New York from Houston, Texas for college, I wanted to find a way to get more involved in the NYC community. Growing up with my immigrant grandmother who lived in a food desert herself, my family and I experienced first-hand, the struggles of getting her the healthy foods and ingredients she needed. What became the most strenuous aspects were the little things that made it all the more difficult for our family to get my grandma, even just the necessities for living. For example, it would take my family more time, money, and effort to physically bring my grandma fresh produce which would add up over time. Because of this, food insecurity became one of the issues that I became most passionate about through working with a variety of community organizations and food banks back home in Houston.
After looking for jobs and internships through my university here in New York, I discovered The New Settlement Community Center and specifically, their Community Health Initiatives Department (CHI). When researching the organization, I was inspired by the work that New Settlement has done for the South Bronx community and how CHI has been able to use their community food pantry and farm stand to bring the community together. I decided to apply for the position of Youth Team Lead in hopes of joining an organization with a mission I stood behind. Once I entered my position with CHI, I served in a mentorship role to the teenage interns at the center and in an outreach and administrative capacity with the Director of CHI. Through this, I learned more about the inner workings and responsibilities that go into running a department within a non-profit agency. Through working with the teenage interns, I was able to meet young adults of all different backgrounds and learn more about their lived experiences and passions, which has been extremely rewarding. Through the teenagers, I was able to strengthen my communication skills and mentorship skills to ensure that they were gaining the most out of their internship experience.
In addition to being a friend and mentor to them, I was also able to be a source that provided insight into the college experience and the skills needed to work future internships and jobs. Through our conversations, I was able to coordinate professional development workshops for them and learn how to best meet their varying needs and offer advice. It has been extremely rewarding to share my knowledge and offer honest and realistic advice on the next steps for them after high school, such as best resume practices and the ins and outs of the college application process. Working as the Youth Team Lead was the best of both worlds for me, as I received feedback from the perspective of those younger than me, while also seeing the work put in to keep a department such as CHI running and serving the community.
By being in this position, I was able to expand my own perspective on the future jobs I am interested in pursuing. I realized that I am incredibly passionate about non-profit work and hope to continue working in this sector in some capacity in the future. I came into the position not expecting to gain as much out of the experience as I have, and I am so grateful for the people that I have met through it.