Fisher faculty and students with volunteers and staff of the Guadalupe Center.
“There are green peppers under here! Everyone loves these!” I could see the joy on Megan’s face as she lifted up the last box of cucumbers to reveal the green peppers beneath. She paused to say something in Spanish to the two other regular volunteers. I smiled because everyone else was so happy, but I was also a little surprised to see such excitement over a vegetable. I can’t say that I’ve ever been excited to see a vegetable, but that is probably because I have always had enough to eat. For those that come to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center, hunger is something that is all too familiar.
Megan is a senior Spanish major at The Ohio State University and regularly volunteers with the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center. She did the training for our work at the center on Fisher Impact Day. November 11th was Fisher’s very first Fisher Impact Day, and hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff, volunteered at non-profit organizations around Columbus. As the Chair of Fisher Board Fellows, I was asked to sit on the committee and help recruit organizations to participate. Some of Fisher Board Fellows’ partner organizations that participated were: Catholic Social Services, Ronald McDonald House, Local Matters, Mid-Ohio Foodbank, LifeCare Alliance, and the Columbus Zoo. In addition to these organizations, we had students helping out with the Red Cross and Goodwill, as well as students who made blankets for foster children, and students who helped create packages of food with The Pack Shack. I chose to volunteer with the Guadalupe Center because it is run by Catholic Social Services, which is the board I currently sit on as a fellow.
At the Guadalupe Center, myself and two other Fisher volunteers helped sort through and bag produce. While we worked, Megan taught us what each vegetable and fruit was in Spanish, and she explained to us how the center functioned. As a business student, I was impressed by the organization and efficiency of the center. Clients called in to make an appointment, and then each family was allotted a certain number of playing cards (dependent on the number of family members and the individual needs of each family), and each card was worth one point. Families were able to spend their points on whatever food they wanted, but produce didn’t cost any points – everyone got fresh fruit and vegetables. Volunteers were on-hand to help push shopping carts and keep the center organized and everything running smoothly.
For me, the green pepper moment was the most memorable of the day, because the volunteers were so genuinely excited. It showed how much the volunteers and staff at the Guadalupe Center care about those they serve. Their kindness and their dedication are invaluable because the clients at the Guadalupe Center come at their most vulnerable and in need of help. Compassion and respect are two of Catholic Social Services’ core values, and these values permeated throughout our entire volunteer experience.
Even though I was a Fisher Impact Day committee member and have been present through each step of the planning process, I am still impressed by how well it went, and by what a wonderful experience students had. I truly hope that Fisher Impact Day continues, and I hope the committee continues to partner with Fisher Board Fellows. Giving back to the community is so important for students, but it is especially important for business students. We spend our days in class learning about shareholders equity and market share and profit margins, but in the real world, where people are hungry and struggling to make it through the next day, those things don’t really matter all that much. Sometimes what matters most is a green pepper. And sometimes we need a reminder of that.