I remember this time a year ago, when I was starting my last semester of college and wondering what I would do, I had no idea that I would end up accomplishing all that I have. I started my Fellowship year at Wholesome Wave in Bridgeport, CT, in August, with the main goal of supporting the development team. This organization focuses on helping underserved consumers access fresh fruits and vegetables. We empower individuals to make healthier choices by giving them the means and support to buy what they want. We believe income should not be a barrier to eating well.
My role is researching potential funders, compiling information and maintaining records on existing funders, and to prepare reports on the team’s progress for staff meetings. This gives me an immense amount of perspective on how long it takes for a non-profit to actually make their mission a reality. All of our good intentions and plans can only be carried out with the support of dedicated funders, and others, who believe in our mission. By working in development, I have also learned that all of our initiatives and plans are very small-scale when looking at the larger systematic issues in our food system. We are but one organization trying to combat one of the many symptoms of large-scale economic disparity. However, I can now see that even the smallest initiatives can create an important change in the lives of our participants. I have learned how to reconcile my desire to solve as many of the world’s problems as possible with the reality that I cannot do that right now, but I am doing what I can to help this organization.
I have taken the time to reflect on everything that I have learned and come to appreciate in the last eight months. Since starting here I have had the opportunity to work cross-functionally with development, finance, and programs. As of now, I do not know what I want to do with the rest of my life; I find that to be both immensely liberating and a source of stress. What I do know is that I want to help others. I know that wherever I go next, I will use the skills and experiences that I have learned here. A year from now, I know that I will look back on my time here as a valuable and enriching opportunity.
By Marissa Jayawickrema, 2019-2020 NOF Fellow, at Wholesome Wave, Bridgeport, CT