Week 2!

I genuinely cannot believe how fast this summer is going! More importantly though I don’t think I can yet fully comprehend the immense feeling of accomplishment that I feel at the end of my days working at NSI.  While the fact that the pantry is open for service Mondays through Thursdays 10am-1pm enables my days to have a certain level of predictability to them, my interactions with NSI’s diverse group of volunteers, community partners and most importantly our neighbors has ensured that no two days are the same.

There are so many highlights from this past week I really don’t know where to begin! The level of engagement at our first Fellow Learning Circle on Tuesday definitely set the tone not only for my own personal week, but I think for what we can expect to be on the horizon for this unparalleled group of fellows.  The opportunity to hear from trailblazing leaders in the non-profit sector who have a specific focus on policy was incredible! Participating in a discussion about the school-to-prision pipeline with these leaders from two highly esteemed organizations (The Children’s Defense Fund and Voice’s for Ohio’s Children) only further fueled my desire to be apart of this work.  I cannot adequately express my gratitude for The Columbus Foundation and their efforts to create spaces where we can realize our fullest potential.

My big focus of the week was finishing the design and then beginning the implementation of my summer-long project for NSI. My role at NSI is to help them develop a research tool to better evaluate the needs of our neighbors. While in the design phase over the last two weeks I spent a lot of time researching past surveys/reports that other food pantries have used to inform the design of their services.  On Wednesday of last week after having the survey be reviewed by my supervisors and even a board member we hit the ground running! Though the day wasn’t without a few setbacks.  For instance, I learned that having neighbors participate in the survey while they wait to be served may inadvertently slow down service. Also, I realized that while the questions I had created could offer valuable insight, it seemed more important to gather the information requested on NSI’s existing recording system, PantryTrak. Lastly, just after one day it became apparent to me that while our goal was to survey as many neighbors as possible, our neighbors want nothing more than for someone to show genuine interest in hearing their story and taking the time to sit down and “interview” them could create a space for that. Needless to say, Wednesday night when I got home and was reflecting on the day I started drafting up a second version.

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I am excited to share more about the progress of the project later this week!

-Sylvie Durlacher



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