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!