Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dr. Rick Hodes: Experiences from an American Doctor Saving Lives in Ethiopia

In 1990, Dr. Rick Hodes left for Africa to tend to health of Ethiopians immigrating to Israel. Over two decades later, Dr. Hodes still continues to make a large impact for the people of Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the world.

After graduating from Middlebury College and the University of Rochester Medical School, he was trained in internal medicine at John Hopkins Medical Center. Currently, he is the Medical Director of Ethiopia for the American Jewish Join Distribution Committee (JDC), a 95-year old NGO. He is also the senior consultant at a Catholic mission helping sick destitutes with heart disease (rheumatic and congenital), spine disease (TB and scoliosis), and cancer. He has also worked with refugees in Rwanda, Zaire, Tanzania, Somalia, and Albania.

Dr. Hodes is the subject of the 2008 HBO documentary, "Making the Crooked Straight," as well as the book "This is a Soul: The Mission of Rick Hodes," which tells the story of Hodes' journey in Africa.

On Thursday November 20th at 7pm, Dr. Hodes will talk about his unique experiences in the University of Michigan's Kahn Auditorium. Please join us!

To learn more about Dr. Rick Hodes, visit: http://rickhodes.org/about/

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Facts about Malnutrition

Facts about Malnutrition:

Malnutrition (or under nutrition), is a highly serious medical condition, in which the diet is deficient of energy, necessary proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Most of the physical harm caused by malnutrition affects children in the first two years of their development. Malnutrition in children can permanently stunt physical growth and brain development. Such consequences can lead to further problems in the future for individuals and the greater community, including future problems in learning, finding work, reproduction, and especially long-term health complications.

According to the WHO, World Food Programme, the UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition, and the UN Children’s fund:
·      In total, about 195 million children suffer from malnutrition worldwide
·      About 20 million children under the age of five are afflicted with severe acute malnourishment; so far, only 3% of children receive treatment
·      One third of the approximately 8 million child deaths each year world wide occur due to severe acute malnutrition
·      Common illnesses, like pneumonia and diarrhea, can be particularly deadly for malnourished children
·      An estimated 9 children per minute die from malnutrition-related afflictions
·      Undernutrition is the #1 risk to health in the world
·      Mid-upper arm circumference can be measured with colored plastic strips, which makes severe acute malnutrition diagnosis simple. If the measurement is less than 110m, urgent treatment is needed
·      As for economic impact, it is estimated that each $1 USD spent on malnutrition initiatives result in $8-$138 USD in impact

Friday, April 11, 2014

CGIU Experience

Andrew Hurwitz: Executive Director of WWFF

Attending CGI U at Arizona State University was an absolutely incredible experience. It was great to hear from such influential and proven leaders. Specifically, Bunker Roy and his unique take on education made a huge impact on me. Although our Will Work For Food team learned so much during the plenary and outbreak sessions, getting to meet likeminded socially active college students from across the globe was our favorite part. I loved hearing about their personal stories and commitments to action. It was truly inspirational to learn how these young adults are taking it upon themselves to change the world and make a meaningful impact. These relationships and future collaborations will surely help WWFF broaden its impact.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Here are some pictures from the CGIU conference that Henry Sholk, AJ Hurwitz, and Sylvia Lorenzini attended last week.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

WWFF and Volunteering

In a school of 40,000+ students, it may be intimidating to find the right volunteering opportunity. From a personal perspective, I always had an idea of what kind of volunteering opportunities that interested me. However, with so many organizations on campus, I had a difficult time starting the search process as well as narrowing down the potential options. Similar to many other schools, there is always some kind of volunteering opportunity that somewhat aligns with a student's interests. If there is not that strict alignment, there is room to start one’s own organization.

The easiest place to start is by looking on your school’s organization page. Through filtering options and just doing own research, you are bound to find several volunteering clubs of interest. Through personal experiences and hearing other’s path, the most effective advice is just to go through the process. Figuring out what you like and what you don’t should not be a stressful process. Rather it should be a fun and engaging experience. Freshman who come into the university have this expectation that they are supposed to discover everything that works for them right away. It is through positive and negative experiences that help an individual discover where they are supposed to be. This process is throughout a college experience and never just a one-time decision made during freshman year. Most of the times the result is never expected/planned. The research and actually going through the process is something that should be a fun experience.

Some national organizations that are great volunteering opportunities for WWFF are listed below:

  • Dance Marathon: A nationwide movement raising money for Children’s Miracle Network hospital in their community. Students spend the school year holding different events to raise money that contributes to their end goal. The end goal is an extremely rewarding experience with a 12-40 hour-long event where the students stay on their feet to raise awareness of their goals and achievements.
  • Habitat for Humanity: A non-profit organization whose mission statement is that everyone deserves a safe and affordable home to live. They engage in projects to build and repair houses using volunteer labor and donations.
  • Best Buddies: An organization that pairs up people with disabilities with college students to form one-on-one friendships. Every month there is a chapter event and an individual event to further a deeper connection and understanding of each other.
  • Autism Speaks: Through campus and local awareness, students hold fundraising efforts to improve awareness of families and individuals affected by autism.
  • Divest and Invest: Students run efforts to expand awareness for clean energy solutions in everyday life.

Remember there is always an opportunity out there! If not, start your own!

-Sylvia Lorenzini

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Clinton Global Initiative

Three members of the WWFF Headquarter team will be attending the Clinton Global Initiative at Arizona State University this weekend. 

Here is a little background information on the conference:
Will Work For Food went national after founder Steve Weinberg attending a Clinton Global Initiative for Universities (CGIU) conference in April at Miami University. Weinberg had the opportunity to speak to Clinton and spread word about WWFF. President Bill Clinton founded Clinton Global Initiative in 2005 along with his White House partner, Doug Bank. The mission statement is a simple one: to turn ideas into action. How can something so simple be turned into such a successful non-partisan organization? The people who attend these meetings are no ordinary people. Rather they are the global leaders such as heads of state, Nobel Prize laureates, leading CEOs, heads of foundations, philanthropists; people who have a passion in their work and seek to do greater good. The initiative of this foundation is to have these leaders convene to create innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. 

The Resources: These people are the world’s most passionate leaders. To get to their current position, they had a goal to help some part of the world. With their knowledge, experience, and resources, each of them offers a different perspective. Putting these perspectives in the same room each September leads to commitments to make the world a better place.  Their resources such as connections, knowledge, funding, and the collaboration between these leaders can result in immense and measurable results.

The Model: The CGI model focuses on four main ways:  Inspiration, networking, knowledge building, and collaboration. Through these ways, members commit themselves to address global challenges. Taking into account their background and resources, they have the chance to create meaningful ideas and turn these ideas in fruition. 

The Impact:

  • CGI members have made nearly 2,500 commitments
  • Improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries
  • When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $87.9 billion.
If you want to know every time WILL WORK FOR FOOD posts something new to our blog, email willworkforfoodblog@gmail.com with the subject line "Sign me up."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

History of WWFF

Steve Weinberg, founder of WWFF, was listening to a speech from President Bill Clinton discussing the idea that our generation has daunting challenges of fighting infectious diseases and delivering clean water to areas of the world that need it. With this push, and mentioning the tools that our generation has access to that weren’t available in the past, including the Internet and media, we have the power to change the circumstances. Clinton also mentioned that our generation has to be aware of these international crises but can’t forget about the immediate needs in our local communities, such as education. Steve wanted to connect the two ideas and make things possible for people in need.

Childhood malnutrition is a serious problem that is under the radar and needs attention, as it is known as the silent killer. He states this is because many people don’t directly know someone affected with malnourishment, unlike cancer or other diseases prevalent in the United States. Over five million children die every year, about one every six seconds, of childhood malnutrition. Steve wanted to bring attention to this problem in addition to helping local communities. This sparked the idea of Will Work For Food, serving in your local community, translating to aid being sent to these children abroad that need it the most.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists. Doctors Without Borders provides assistance in more than 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence or neglect, due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, etc. Their work is based on the principles of medical ethics and impartiality, bringing quality care to people in crisis regardless of their race, religion, or political affiliation. On any given day, more than 27,000 individuals representing multiple nationalities can be found providing assistance to people around the world, who are caught in crisis. These volunteers include doctors, nurses, logistic experts, administrators, mental health professionals, epidemiologists, and others who work in accordance with Doctors Without Borders principles. The field staff are supported by colleagues in 19 offices around the world.

Doctors Without Borders strives to provide high-quality care to patients and improve the organization’s own practices. Through the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines and Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, this work has helped lower the price of HIV/AIDS treatment and has stimulated research and development for medicines to treat malaria and neglected diseases.

{Post written by Sylvia Lorenzini}

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Check out our new WWFF video highlighting what we do.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Get to Know UNC Chapter Co-Executive Director Persia Homesl

Q: What year are you and what are you studying?
A: Junior studying Biology

Q: How did you become involved with WILL WORK FOR FOOD?
A: I began as a member of Will Work For Food my first year at UNC, and I became more involved as a volunteer coordinator and eventually became the co-executive director of our chapter.

Q: Why did you decide to become on the board for WILL WORK FOR FOOD?
A: I wanted to explore further ways of becoming involved in Will Work For Food and following its mission, and the best way to do this was to be on the board of WWFF.

Q: What kind of work efforts have you organized on your campus?
A: We have had work efforts at Battle Park on campus in which volunteers can help upkeep the land.  Another one of our work efforts takes place at Hope Gardens, a garden where food is grown for others in the community to eat for free.

Q: What else are you involved in at UNC besides WILL WORK FOR FOOD?
A: I am a volunteer Doula at UNC Hospitals and I shadow a physician at the hospital. 

Q: If you could describe WILL WORK FOR FOOD in one word, what would it be?
A: Selfless.

Q: What is a fun fact about you that not a lot of people know?

A: I love longboarding around campus in my free time!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Get to Know WWFF Founder: Steve Weinberg

Steven Weinberg

Why did you decide to start WWFF?
We wanted to give students a way to address the international crisis of childhood malnutrition while still encouraging them to be involved in their local communities.

How has WWFF changed since you started it?
Our leadership team was much smaller when we started WWFF. I'm excited to see that it has expanded and we've pulled in a lot of talented leaders taking on challenging roles.

Can you describe what work you did in Ethiopia.  Who you worked with, how you found it, etc.
I worked with Dr. Rick Hodes (www.rickhodes.org) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Most of our work was at Mother Teresa's Mission where we ran a safety net clinic taking care of patients who had been turned away from many other hospitals. Dr. Hodes is on the Board of WWFF so when I had some time before starting medical school I knew that I wanted to spend it with him.

How can students who are interested in doing work abroad like you find out about opportunities like this?
Most major colleges and universities will have an international office these days. I think that going through established programs is always a good idea since the roles are defined and infrastructure is in place already. I would be happy to try to set people up with a position at one of the organizations I worked with in Ethiopia.

I know you're in Medical School, what are you studying and planning to do in the future?
So far I am really interested in pediatrics. Perhaps pediatric cardiology. I saw a lot of really sick kids with heart problems in Ethiopia and this definitely sparked my interest.

What advice do you have for University of Michigan students?
There was a Mark Twain quote that I tried to live by while in undergrad - "don't let school interfere with your education." College is unique because you actually have time and resources to explore the things you're interested in. Take advantage of it! Whether it is going to an art museum, working for a nonprofit, or traveling you'll be happy you took the time to do it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

WWFF UNC Successful Event

The WWFF Chapter at UNC had a successful event on November 14th, 2013. 

The UNC chapter set up a room in the Campus Y at UNC's campus for a dialogue.  Three tables were set up: one for discussions about the medical and global aspects of malnutrition, another for discussions about the general background of malnutrition, and a third table with donated food from Mediterranean Deli.  Everyone grabbed a plate of food and the officers dispersed across the two tables that the students split up. 

In the discussion, interesting questions and conversations arose, and one question asked a couple of times was "Don't some of the children have peanut allergies?" Persia Homesley, the Co-Executive Director of the UNC chapter, told the students that a lot of children in other parts of the world don't have peanut allergies like many children in America do.  The students and leaders discussed this topic a bit more, also talking about how our environment shapes who we become.  After about twenty minutes, the students switched over to another table, where Persia discussed with a new group of students along with Ashley, our Volunteer Coordinator, and Emma, the other co-executive director of WWFF.  The event went on for about a total of an hour and a few students stayed after to talk to the different officers while we closed up.  It was great event for educating others more on malnutrition as well as on what Will Work For Food works toward! 

Great job UNC, keep up the great work!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Q & A

Caroline Logan
Age: 22
Residing in Jerusalem, Israel
Graduated from UM 2013 with dual degree in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies and International Security and Cooperation.

WWFF member from 2009-2013.

Q: Who is your role model?
A: I don’t necessarily have a single role model. In fact, I can think of a hundred people with positive qualities I try to emulate; my mother for her work effort, my father for his sense of humor and humility, my colleagues for their commitment, and most importantly the refugees I work with for their resilience and perseverance.

Q: If you could meet anyone, who would it be and why?
A: I legitimately thought for five minutes about this question and really can’t give you an answer. Frankly, I’m perfectly content meeting the people I do every day. For instance, right now, I’m working on a series of camp resident profiles, where I interview a family or resident in each camp. I hear about their struggles and challenges but also their successes and hopes, I get to sit with them in their homes or shops and listen to them tell me stories of the past, of living through history, and it’s truly remarkable. Meeting these people has probably taught me more than a meeting with some famous person ever could.

Q: What are you doing at this moment in your career path?
A: I’m currently working with UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East) in their West Bank office. I’m working on a variety of projects including community mental health, GBV awareness, and researching and writing profiles for the 19 refugee camps in the West Bank. It’s overall a very rewarding position, with a lot of opportunities to work in the camps and to get a better sense of what life is like for those who live there, which in turn contributes to my quality of work.

Q. What advice do you have to those who aspire the same career goals as you?
A: Go abroad (anywhere outside of Western Europe) for an extended period of time. This is important both to give you the experience of truly understanding and being able to function in a diverse environment, but also to really see if this is the path you want to pursue. Second, I would say it’s absolutely imperative that you learn (and learn well) a second and even third language spoken in the region you are interested in. Linguistic proficiency will open a lot of doors both in a professional and personal sense, and will allow you a lot of opportunities not accessible if you only speak English.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: What free time? (jokes) I actually volunteer at a center, which provides legal aid for African migrants and refugees in Israel, and I’m working to coordinate the collection, transportation and distribution of material donations for Syrian refugees living in Jordan.
However, on my days off, I really like to go hiking in the Golan and Galilee in the north of the country, or to the Negev in the south. Geographically speaking, Israel and Palestine is very small, but has the diversity of the whole US, so it’s quite nice to be in the desert one day and in green mountains the next.

Q: How did you hear about WILL WORK FOR FOOD?
A: When I was a freshman I was looking for opportunities to get involved in a service organization at UM and I had some older friends who were in WWFF. I joined them on the annual canned food drive and had a great time. Then, when I started to become more involved with the organization, I really saw how much more of an impact I was making my using the WWFF model, and that’s what really attracted me to the organization.
Q. What was your role on WWFF headquarters team?

A: I was the regional manager (college outreach coordinator) on the WWFF headquarters team. My main responsibilities included coordinating the activities of campus chapters nationwide and acting as a liaison between University Representatives and WWFF headquarters in addition to providing training, organizational and logistical support for University Representatives and reaching out to possible new chapters. The position was great for me because I could provide support for new chapters, and thus got to see how each chapter developed and grew over the course of an academic year. It was also great because I could meet and work with students from across the country who had the same goals and vision as we at HQ did.

Q.What was your favorite part of being in WWFF?
A: I really loved how collaborative, open and flexible it was. Especially with my always-overly-confident class schedules, it was nice to be able to volunteer independently and on my own schedule, but also to be able to participate in WWFF sponsored activities when I wanted to. I also loved how well our WWFF team worked together; I really looked forward every week to our meetings both because I always felt like we really accomplished a lot, but also because it was an open space for discussion with people who became really good friends.

Q: If you could describe WILL WORK FOR FOOD in one word, what would it be?
A: Dedication; it’s really amazing to see how dedicated WWFF members are. Most members have a full schedule of classes, extracurricular activities and even lively social lives, but still manage to find time week after week to work for something bigger than them. That’s dedication.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Get to know WWFF leaders

Silvia Lorenzini - Marketing Chair WWFF Headquarters Team

I'm a Senior in the Ross School of Business, minoring in Program in the Environment. I am also a part of the Graham Sustainability Scholars Program, a small group of students interested in sustainability leadership and practice. I started with Will Work For Food my Sophomore year when I became the University of Michigan Campus Director for the social entrepreneurship company, Two Degrees. By collaborating with the past WWFF Chapter President, Julie Sherbill, I worked to make a partnership between the two organizations. This work initially sparked my interest in social entrepreneurship and the double-bottom line. I first started as the Director of Social Media, working on the facebook page and Twitter. I then took over as Director of Marketing, and I have been working with the WWFF Chapter Reps on their marketing strategies. My current project is a promotional video for the organization.  What truly inspired me to continue my work with WWFF was my work in rural South Africa this summer. I saw the effects of malnourishment on many amazing children, and I became even more motivated to alleviate it.

After graduation, I hope to join organizations like the Peace Corps or Teach for America so I can learn more about the issues I am passionate about. My hope is to use inspiration from this work to start a social venture of my own. I would also like to obtain a dual MBA and MPH (Masters of Public Health) so I can gain a better educational foundation before I begin to grow the venture. Besides my interests in social entrepreneurship and international work, I am a huge musical theater nerd (mostly because of my high school theater experience). I also love music and playing the guitar, and I hope to improve my playing skills when I am a second semester senior. Most importantly, I am a dual US-Italian citizen, and I love anything involving Italy, especially the food!

Furman U. hosts clever fundraiser

Furman University recently hosted one of the most innovative, creative, and most importantly, au natural ways to raise money for our cause: Mustache March for Malnourishment. Pretty witty name, no? We recently interviewed one of the brave men who sported a mustache for the entire month--Zach Greene.
How did you get involved? Why?
In regards to how I got involved with WWFF, my friend Sarah Caldwell (who is the chapter president at Furman) and I had been talking about starting a non-profit organization branch at Furman, and Will Work for Food seemed like a great organization to be affiliated with. Also, our friend from high school Ben Vollmer, who participates in the Will Work for Food chapter in Chapel Hill, had suggested the organization as a great non-profit to be a part of.
What about Furman University makes it a good place for WWFF?
Furman University is comprised of students who are willing and able to invest their time and effort into activities outside of the academic realm, which made the Mustache March for Malnourishment fundraiser easy to manage. It's difficult to generalize, but I'd say Furman students are cognizant of problems that are globally relevant, such as malnourishment, as well as problems that affect our nation specifically, such as widespread hunger. Ultimately, the Furman students who participated in Mustache March for Malnourishment showed the initiative to sacrifice their time in order to raise money in order to help a cause that they felt was of great importance.
Tell us about the work effort. What did you do to make it succeed? How did you market it on campus?
Initially we put flyers up around campus advertising Mustache March for Malnourishment, stating, "Support your favorite mustache" and "Your change makes a change." I felt like getting big donations from college students would be difficult, but "tapping into" their parents and Furman alumni would yield the biggest donations. We spread the word through email to our peers and our professors, and we also made a large poster that we put up in the dining hall with the pictures of the contestants with mustaches. Ideally next year we will get the Furman president Dr. Smolla as well as other Furman faculty members to grow mustaches in support of the fundraiser.
Tell us about the contestants who participated. How did they raise money? Any funny stories?
The contestants who participated were: Dakota Derrick, Zack Houghton, Parth Thakker, Michael Kelly, and myself. I was skeptical all along of my mustache growing abilities, and I knew that some of the other participants would not have my same difficulties. When we came back from spring break, our friend and contestant Parth Thakker already had a much thicker mustache than any of the other participants, and proceeded to tell us that he had already shaved twice for a family wedding. My friend and roommate Michael Kelly had to compete in multiple track events (200m sprinter) with a mustache, so I'm sure that was entertaining for his competitors. Other than constantly being asked if I had lost a bet, or if I was rushing for a frat, or being called "sir" outside of Furman, not too much was different with having a mustache.
Any future plans to raise money for WWFF?
We intend to hold Mustache March for Malnourishment again next year at Furman. Ideally, it will be an intercollegiate competition, each college raising a minimum amount of money between the contestants and then competing for the prestigious award "Best Mustaches in America." This year's fundraiser was quite the learning experience for Michael Kelly, Sarah Caldwell, and I, and I think knowing now what goes into managing a successful fundraiser, we should expect to see a great increase in the amount of donations raised for next year's Mustache March for Malnourishment!
A big thanks to Furman University for this clever idea to raise money and awareness for child malnutrition!