My decision to transition into the non-profit sector was met with much skepticism from family, friends, and peers. The thought of forgoing a high-paying, corporate entry level salary for a recent college grad was perplexing for most, and left me in a mental space where I had to choose between what I thought was best for myself and what others thought was best for my financial security. Thankfully, I chose what was best for myself.
The past 5 months I have undergone a multitude of changes that have redefined my perspective on humanism, community, food access, and myself. Towards the end of my senior year at Boston University, I had decided that I wanted to pursue opportunities that better aligned with my passions for music, art, fashion, and philanthropy. I had numerous experiences working in a corporate setting that left me yearning for a position that allowed me to have an immediate, and direct positive impact on a community. I happened upon the Newman’s Own Foundation Fellowship by way of the Posse Foundation job portal, and immediately connected with the story of Paul Newman and the legacy that he has left behind through his brand, charitable work, and charming personality.
After being selected as a Newman’s Own Fellow, I was presented with the most difficult task thus far: choosing which organization I wanted to work with. Newman’s Own donates to numerous organizations that do amazing work, but I ultimately decided that Daily Table was the best fit for me because it would place me outside of my comfort zone, expose me to food access issues, and allow me to gain a perspective on Massachusetts that differed from my BU campus life perspective. Daily Table is a not-for-profit, food retail grocery store that was founded in Dorchester, Massachusetts with the purpose of providing access to healthy and affordable food. My role as a Newman’s Own Fellow at Daily Table is to act as the Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator, which was perfect for a natural introvert who wanted to learn how to become more extroverted.
When I first started at Daily Table, I was unsure of how the store would receive me. I felt like a complete outsider who was new to the 9-to-5-work week, new to and completely ignorant of a community I lived 4 miles away from, and new to a store that had become accustomed to its last Newman’s Own Fellow (Amethyst Carey). My feelings of uncertainty towards my Daily Table experience, slowly but surely turned into feelings of gratitude and appreciation. I have learned how to become more comfortable and confident in myself through my role as Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator, regularly leading volunteer groups and making new connections to promote the store. I have also been learning how to create management and operational structure within multiple departments of the store.
Because Daily Table has a small administrative team that is tasked with not only operating Daily Table Dorchester, but also the grand opening of the second store, Daily Table Roxbury (scheduled to open in January), I have had various responsibilities that fall outside of my title of Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator. I have appreciated the opportunity to collaborate within my team, learn how other various departments operate, and contribute to the process of unveiling a new store to a community.
Overall, I have been humbled by my experience at Daily Table and have seen what it takes to provide for the common good of a community by following the examples set by my coworkers. My conversations with Daily Table employees have shown me what it means and takes to pursue work that you truly believe in. After going into my first day hoping to just make positive first impressions, I can now say that I have found a community and family at Daily Table that has helped me grow into an entirely different person than the one that started the Fellowship 5 months ago. When I speak on and advocate for greater access to healthy food, I can not only reference data that I’ve studied, but also describe my own life experience of living within a community that is food insecure and has predominately low-income residents. As the midway point of the Fellowship nears, I am excited to think about my future at Daily Table and hope to continue to learn, grow, and leave a lasting impact at Daily Table upon my departure in June.
Josh Hinnant – NOF Fellow at Daily Table, Dorchester, MA