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Back in 2009, I couldn’t imagine where I would be 10 years later: standing in a gymnasium in Brooklyn, New York, overseeing an event that was making an impact; on students, on staff, on the world and on myself. When I look back on my experience with Service N.C. State and Rise Against Hunger (previously Stop Hunger Now) in 2009, I knew the impact that many people could make with just a small dedication of time and money. Now in my role as Assistant Director for NYU Service at New York University, I get the chance to make that impact each and every day.

I was fortunate enough to recently be asked to coordinate an event for 100 of our incoming students and quickly Rise Against Hunger came to mind as an option. To be able to give back in such a unique and fun way, as well as educate incoming first-year students about the impact that dedicating their time and efforts could make, seemed like a no brainer.

Photos courtesy of Katina Pennington

I knew spending one Saturday morning packaging over 20,000 meals to go out to school feeding programs would have a long-lasting impact on these students and their futures. Many of these students aren’t immediately worried about where their next meal will be coming from, and taking this first step to understanding the privilege that we are fortunate to experience could be life-changing. I know it was for me.

Looking back on 2009 and one event a couple of years before that, I hadn’t done a lot of service in my community, and had not really considered why that was. I did not grow up in the most privileged of backgrounds, but yet I still experienced unearned privilege. Getting involved in community service in college and particularly with Rise Against Hunger, offered me an opportunity to understand what my privilege meant and how I could make a difference. Now I have dedicated my life to making an impact in whatever ways I can.

On Saturday, January 26, in a gymnasium in Brooklyn, I saw myself in the students who were dancing to music and packaging meals to be sent abroad. That vision allowed me the opportunity to relive my past and see just a little of the impact I was making in my present, and hopefully on the future.