Cary, NC – Four high school students from around the Triangle, including one Cary student, were selected to create a food bank in the Triangle and gain work and leadership experience.
Gaining Experience in the Community
Olivia Andrews, rising senior at Green Hope High School, was selected as part of Bank of America’s Student Leaders program, pairing high school students with non-profits in order to build organizational, leadership and workplace experience.
Andrews, along with three other Triangle students, were paired with the YMCA of the Triangle to create a food bank that will serve Walnut Creek Elementary in Raleigh. One in five children in North Carolina face food insecurity.
Andrews said she applied to the program because as a student, she is busy and does not always have the time to give back to the community.
“The program gave me the time and the outlet to work and apply myself,” Andrews said.
The process of creating the food bank has been challenging, Andrews said, as they have to balance not only creating a budget but also create a delivery system for the food to get to the pantry.
“We are also promoting eating fresh fruits and vegetables, which are crucial to health and we are creating a community garden,” Andrews said. “We want to leave Walnut Creek with something they can keep going once we are done with our program so it will last without us.”
Virginia Parker, marketing manager in the Triangle for Bank of America, said when selecting the students for the program, their committee of community leaders looked at experience and dedication to community service.
“Olivia also has an interest in STEM and science so she adds a great dynamic,” Parker said.
Learning Leadership Skills
In addition to the weeks of experience working with the YMCA of the Triangle, the Student Leaders program also assigned Andrews a mentor. Andrews said she not only formed a good relationship with her mentor but their work together helped Andrews when planning her local project.
“He helped give context; we toured another food bank and I understood what we needed to do,” Andrews said. “I want our relationship to continue.”
Andrews and other students also went to a leadership summit in Washington, D.C. earlier in July. There, Andrews not only got to meet with U.S. Senators such as Thom Tillis, Richard Burr and Bernie Sanders but she also talked with other young people in the program and learned leadership skills.
“I learned the importance of being open-minded. We would have discussions and tensions would rise but we would remain cooperative outside of the room,” Andrews said. “It’s given me hope for our generation and confidence in our future.”
Parker said this is the third year of the Student Leaders program in the Triangle and it will not only continue into future years but Parker said Bank of America has a larger strategy in place to see it expand.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos courtesy of Bank of America.