Emily Billow, HIP’s Community Relations Coordinator, recently ended her one-year AmeriCorps VISTA term with HIP. Here is a reflection from her based on her experience with HIP over the last year.
It’s wild to think just how impactful 12 months can be. I walked into Hunger Intervention Program as green as they come. I had just moved here from living abroad and was ready to take on Seattle. Reflecting on my year of service reminds me of how much I’ve grown and how much I’ve learned. 16 name tags is my way of recognizing my growth in the situations that have taken place over the last year.
Let’s start by taking it back to March of last year with my first name tag, given to me by United Way of King County. My first week I was training with a cohort of 30 individuals. We were all ready to flourish throughout our service year of building capacity at our sponsoring nonprofits. These 30 people have shaped my service year and supported my growth here at HIP and outside of work.
On my first day at HIP, my third name tag was given to me by Bryn. I stepped into Senior Meals on a Monday. If any of you have also been to Senior Meals on a Monday, you know what I mean — it was organized chaos! I think I answered more questions in that first hour than in any interview I’d ever experienced. Like a good volunteer coordinator, I promptly lost that name tag after my first Senior Meal. Oops! Nevertheless, Senior Meals will always have a special place in my heart because of our volunteers’ determination and willingness to serve others that I witnessed at every meal.
Jump to June; my eighth name tag was given to me at a Teens in Public Service training. The training itself wasn’t the most exciting or memorable but learning to supervise and lead high schoolers during the summer was fantastic. I feel lucky to have played a big part in HIP’s Summer Eats program this year. Among the tasks I was given this summer I had the privilege of supervising multiple high school summer interns. This summer was hectic, rewarding, and a huge learning experience for me, and to those interns and HIP staff, I thank you for sticking with me and allowing me to learn and grow.
Speaking of Food Justice, I was given my tenth name tag at a Food Sovereignty Workshop. This workshop was really an eye-opener for me. Throughout my time at HIP I have learned what it means to advocate for food justice, public programs, and overall better access to food for everyone. This isn’t something I learned in college. HIP has shown me what it means to be an informed consumer and form my own opinion.
What about the sixteenth name tag, you might ask? That is the name tag I made and am leaving for the newest member of our team and AmeriCorps family, Jennifer Sogn. She is starting this month, so give her a warm HIP welcome when you see her.
It has been a truly amazing year, thank you for helping me along this incredible journey. And if you find that missing Senior Meal nametag let me know, I will be close by.