Wow, has it already been 11 months since I started at HIP? It feels like I was just moving here last week and adjusting to life in Seattle. It’s been an adventure living in a new city. Riding the bus to work has become therapeutic, a place to gather my thoughts. In those first few months, I had some second thoughts. Did I make the right choice in moving so far from home (Georgia)? If you ask me now, there is no question that I did make the right choice! It has been an amazing year growing and learning with HIP. I’ve been able to learn about the nonprofit world and make lasting connections in the Lake City Community.
I remember our first packing party, we didn’t know what went into the packs or where everything was located. The first couple of packing parties were long, but we eventually developed a system, where our packing parties were only 30 minutes! This school year, we were able to provide over 52,000 meals through our Healthy HIP Pack program.
Back in March, Sam and I hosted some families for a Cooking Matters class. We learned that being over prepared is best, especially when you have a group of kids running around. I remember this one time when a little girl was learning how to cut an avocado and we needed to take the seed out. And she just reached right in and pulled it out with her hands. I was amazed, a little girl had just shown me that you don’t always need utensils to do things you can do with your hands. Her mom was even more amazed that she was having fun in the kitchen. It’s been great to see how in some of our classes, we have been able to see behavior changes in the smallest of places. Someone who hated pineapple and spinach was now making smoothies with both ingredients. A picky eater who suddenly was interested in vegetables. A mother finding joy in cooking again.
It’s also been rewarding building relationships with volunteers. There is a volunteer who I have grown close to and been able to help with my nutrition background. They are on a special diet, which I also followed for a period of time. I know of the struggle and wanted to support them while they are working their way towards their goals. And I’m super proud of them with where they are at and sticking with it.
This summer has been an adventure to say the least. When I found out that I would be coordinating the Summer Eats program without my fellow Americorps Sam, I was kind of stressed out. I did hit some bumps in the road but I found my groove. We helped serve over 10,000 meals at 13 different sites and provided 1500 Healthy HIP packs. And I got to hang out with a really cool alligator, Lucy.
I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had in getting to be a HIPster. I’ve learned a lot about myself and been able to open myself up to the Lake City Community. Sometimes you have to move far away to find exactly what you are looking for, and I found that at HIP.