Tag Archives: internship

A Shepherd Intern on Her Experience and the Future

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My name is Nora O’Leary and this summer I am working at HOPE, a non-profit organization that provides food, clothing, and resources to low-income and homeless families in Addison County. HOPE has a food shelf, which is available to families once a month, and a surplus area stocked with day-old food from Hannaford’s supermarket and other generous locals. The organization earns money from sales at their thrift shop, Retroworks, which they use to aid families with a variety of expenses, from heating bills, to laundry vouchers, to car repairs. HOPE also provides assistance to homeless individuals with basic necessities, camping supplies, and with the difficult transition out of homelessness. Because HOPE is not a government-affiliated organization, the staff is able to be flexible and provide financial assistance based on a person’s needs at any given time rather than following strict guidelines. That means there is a lot of personal interaction with the clients, because the staff seeks to hear everyone’s stories and understand their struggles, in order to help them in the most effective way possible. As HOPE’s receptionist this summer, I have had the opportunity to have the initial contact with every client who walks in the door, hear their stories, and figure out how best to help them.

Coming into this summer, I wasn’t sure how this internship would relate to my (hopefully) future career as an elementary school teacher. However, I’ve found myself thinking about how closely related the cycle of poverty and education really are. Many clients that HOPE works with struggle with obesity, or drug addictions, have been incarcerated, or have never finished high school. These problems are ones that people are often harshly judged for in our society, because they all involve making some poor choices along the way. However, more and more I have thought about the young child within each of those clients who comes in. Who taught that child about nutrition, or warned them against drug use, or encouraged them to release frustration in healthy, non-violent ways? What about the child who quit school to start working and help his parents pay to keep the heating on in the winter? Many of the clients who come into HOPE everyday never had someone to teach them important lessons about finances and managing money, or a positive role model whose example they could follow in life. A teacher can be a hugely positive influence on a child, and this job has made me so eager to be that for a child someday. I continue to think about how a client’s life might have been different had they someone who believed in them, and encouraged them to work their hardest in and out of school everyday. I am hugely grateful for so many things this summer has taught me, but motivating me to continue on my way to becoming a public school teacher is an unforeseen and wonderful outcome

Nora O’Leary, ’17

To Have Patients

13584911_10154290273964253_2364320571155775360_oWith the Open Door Clinic, I have become aware of a whole new community that exists in Addison County of which I was not previously aware. In Addison County, roughly half of residents are uninsured. While most of us can go into a hospital and show an insurance card to avoid heavy fees, many Vermonters are left staring down big hospital bills with very little means through which to pay them. However, the issue is not even this simple. For migrant workers in Vermont, many do not understand the system and, when they receive their bills, do not quite know what to do with them since they are not in their native language. This is just one issue that I have been confronted with and helped alleviate through proactive communications with patients. While these problems are large scale, and will therefore need solutions on such a scale, I can still feel that my contribution has been worthwhile: helping a migrant worker, who provides for his small family that he started in Vermont, get his bills paid can be an experience that would be far more significant than one had serving my superiors coffee as an intern on Wall Street.
In the future, I see myself doing work that will help people, not because of their economic or social advantages but because we owe people help because of their humanity. At the Open Door Clinic, my coworkers have been consummate professionals in refraining from judging patients. In this line of work, we must become pure assets that always work for the benefit of our patients. In this sense, the job becomes all the more fulfilling through intentional service in which we deny ourselves our own wishes. This type of job has been very fulfilling for me and my coworkers have been role models for me to teach what it means to serve those that are marginalized in our communities.
– JJ Moser ‘16.5

Interning at Charter House

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Located in the heart of Middlebury, Charter House provides free community meals seven days a week throughout the year, as well as housing and sheltering services throughout the winter months. Charter House is a multifaceted organization with a number of moving parts and divergent programs that, when woven together by a number of hardworking individuals, fit together to provide a beautiful, largely self-sustaining service for our community. As the intern this summer, I’ve had to opportunity to engage with the people and processes that make our programs run so smoothly.
The majority of my working hours are spent in two locations: the garden and the kitchen. Charter House has two sizable organic gardens that serve as a sustainable, nutritious base for our community meal programs and are used to teach environmentally responsible farming and food preservation techniques to volunteers. In addition to manual work of my own, my job involves coordinating volunteers to help plant, tend, and harvest the thousands of pounds of produce that we grow throughout the summer, ranging from lettuce, tomatoes, onions, summer squash, zucchini, garlic, carrots and kale to beets, broccoli, cabbage, and more!
Then, in true farm-to-table fashion, I get to use these harvests within our community meal programs. Throughout the week, I help prep, cook, and serve meals to the 40-50 guests that we receive on a daily basis. Our home-grown veggies serve as healthy (and tasty) complements to the wide variety of dishes that we have donated to or make onsite at Charter House. Our guests are always well fed—we never say no to seconds and are always happy to package additional food in take-home containers to keep our guests nourished throughout the day. And still, there’s always enough food for me to grab a plate and be able to sit, eat, and talk with our guests, which honestly is the best part of my job.
I’m extremely grateful for the fact that my summer intern experience thus far has been so comprehensive, and I think a big reason why I’m having such an incredible time is because the people and processes that I’ve become acquainted with are teaching me practical skills and down-to-earth realities. It’s hard to capture the full scale of the lessons I’ve been taught and the ways in which I’ve been impacted within a mere sentence, and so, instead, here is a list of just a few of the things that I’ve learned thus far:
-Zucchinis can grow up to the size of a small child if you neglect to pick them for too long.
-Sometimes it’s easier to let the dishes soak and come back to them, rather than scrubbing incessantly to get them done right then and there.
-Sometimes you’ve got no choice but to scrub the dishes incessantly to get them done right then and there.
 -There is an exponential relationship between the amount of responsibilities that you have and the number of emails coming into your mailbox.
-When using a rotary tiller, you’ve got to be submissive. It knows how it wants to till the ground, and if you try to make it do what you want, it will show you who’s boss.
-It’s great to follow a recipe, but, to me, cooking is an improvisational process.
-There are times when you should talk, times when you should listen, and times when you should smile—and the frequency of those actions should correspond with that order.
-Sharing a meal around a table is truly an equalizing experience and food is one of the most satisfying ways to make people happy.
– Doug Wilson ’19

Addison County Shepherd Internships (apps due 3/1)

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There are 5 amazing paid Addison County Shepherd Internships for this summer!

  • Charter House CoalitionCoordinate the Farm-to-Tabland Community Meals programs, integrating community garden fresh produce into to meal programs, food shelves, and low-income neighborhoods (free room, most meals)
  • Boys and Girls Club of VergennesWork with low-income youth in trailer parks on meal programs, summer learning, drug/alcohol prevention, & arts/life skills activities, and research Addison County poverty via interviews
  • John Graham Homeless ShelterHelp to provide shelter and hope to Addison County’s homeless population and help launch community mentor system
  • Open Door ClinicSupport healthcare, public health, and access and provision of services to special populations, including Vermont migrant farm workers via Spanish fluency
  • WomenSafeProvide crisis intervention, info, and support to abused women and children via 24-hour hotline, especially low-income persons in need of emergency/transitional housing.

Students apply through MOJO; the application deadline is at 11:59 p.m. on Sun., Mar. 1, 2015. Search words include “poverty” and “Addison County.” Community Engagement is listed as the employer, though this individual sites will do their own selecting.

International students are encouraged to apply as Middlebury College pays their stipend. All returning undergraduate students may apply.

Questions? Contact Tiffany Sargent at tiffanys@middlebury.edu

In Their Own Words: Marcella Houghton ’12.5

“In Their Own Words” is an ongoing series featuring the experiences of Middlebury students at their summer internships. This summer Marcella Houghton ’12.5 interned with the State College Area Food Bank in State College, PA.

What did you do?

Twice a week I assisted Bill Zimmer, the home gardener growing crops for the State College Food Bank, and worked at the Food Bank on alternating days. In addition to harvesting and maintaining the crops he was already growing, I assumed responsibility for planting and harvesting a bed of green beans. When the State College community garden got in touch with Bill with an interest in donating to the SCFB, I contacted and met with the garden intern to set up a system for community gardeners to donate their extra harvest. By the middle of the summer the garden had a cooler set up behind a shade cloth, where gardeners could donate and where I would pick up donations weekly.

At the food bank, I served as an all-purpose volunteer. Every distribution day I joined the morning crew with set-up, shelving, and receiving and sorting donations. I joined the new set of volunteers that came in on afternoons, and helped distribute food to clients. I drove the food bank van on errands and on donation pick-up runs. I also set up a recycling system for torn, dirty, or otherwise un-re-usable plastic bags. After broaching the idea with volunteers and the directors, I found and labeled a bin for the bags. Curbside recycling doesn’t include plastic bags in State College, but since the food bank regularly visits grocery stores, whoever’s driving the van can deliver the bags to the recycling receptacles outside of each store.

What did you learn?

Working at the food bank corrected some assumptions I had unknowingly harbored. I’d previously thought food banks relied almost exclusively on individual donations or food drives. But the SCFB receives the bulk of its items from federal and state programs, the South Central Food Bank in a nearby city, tax-deductible donations from grocery stores, and purchases of new groceries on the food bank budget. I was surprised to learn that clients of the SCFB are eligible for groceries only 8 times per year. No chance of surviving off Food Bank groceries alone, contrary to my previous notions.

What are your plans for the future?

My perception of food assistance programs shifted after this experience, hopefully giving me a better sense for how they operate. Working for the food bank widened my eyes to the complexity of social service programs like the SCFB. I also observed among volunteers and people I spoke with a concern that clients might be able to “cheat the system” and get more food than allotted. I’m inclined to think of this anxiety as a misunderstanding; however, whether people “cheat” often or not I believe that programs should strive to treat clients with compassion rather than suspicion, and I realized just how important it is to cultivate that attitude among volunteers in a program like this one.

This summer I discovered an interest in managing volunteers, when I realized I was often in the position of delegating tasks to new recruits. Volunteering every other day gave me a crash course in many of the daily tasks, and it was rewarding to connect a task-less volunteer with a task and attempt to streamline the day’s to-do list. I found it refreshing to interact with many small teams on a regular schedule (the Monday morning crew, the Monday afternoon crew, etc.) and get to know the rhythms of each group of core volunteers. I could see myself in the position of a volunteer organizer in a similar program.

Think this experience sounded pretty cool? Check out opportunities like this and more on MOJO.

Interested in sustainability and education?

There’s a winter term internship for that.

The Teton Science Schools are offering two internship opportunities to work with sustainability and education in Kelly, Wyoming over J-Term. Yes, really.

As an intern, you will have the chance to work on the school’s sustainability audit (STARS) and the development of a Sustainability Report, describing the outcomes of the audit and the school’s efforts towards sustainability. As part of this program, you will have the option to take a Winter Ecology Course (3-9 days) and work on the development of sustainability curriculum within the Field Education Program, including exploring pedagogy and field teaching, depending on your interests.

Interested? Of course you are. Head to MOJO today to apply!

Guess what those snow flurries mean…

That it was less than 32 degrees out this morning.

But more importantly, it’s a signal that J-Term is just around the corner!

Still not sure of your J-Term plans? What about an internship?

There are still some awesome opportunities in MOJO. As the snow falls in January, you could be:

  • putting your Spanish skills to use as an Advocacy Intern for the Vermont Immigration Project
  • participating in development and strategic planning for the Fit Kids Foundation
  • engaging with the local community at the Charter House Emergency Shelter
  • working in a classroom at the Peck School
  • or researching rural education in China for the REAP project.

For more information and to apply, visit MOJO today!