Members matter to both local and national organizations alike, and Community Food Initiatives (CFI) is no exception. We’re proud to share the stories of our community members, and why they choose to collaborate with CFI, over the next several months in our #MembersMatter2017 series!
Dandelion Duff, CFI member, loves the hands-on experience volunteering for her community and thinks CFI is a “really inspirational organization.” After seeing friends attend CFI workshops and hearing about the Summer Service Corp, Dandelion decided to give CFI a try – and we are sure glad she did! “CFI is here to solve a problem,” Dandelion said in a recent interview. “We do what we say, and we make great improvements every year.” Read more of Dandelion’s thoughts on “Why CFI?” in the interview below!
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This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity
CFI: What do you enjoy most about being a member of CFI?
DD: I like the community aspect and scene of CFI.
I just like getting hands-on experience, and seeing a direct benefit in the community with the work the organization does. What I like about being a member of CFI, what really draws me in, is the people that are here who run the organization. To me, the style that everything is executed with and the compassion that it shows for the community is worth it. The direct way of helping people and interacting with farmers, it’s just helping all kinds of people -- I just love it all!
I especially love the part of educating the kids to learn and be encouraged and inspired to grow their own food. They can take that skill and knowledge further and forward as they grow.
CFI is a very special place in my heart, even before I was a member, too. I think a lot of people kind of gravitate towards CFI, and they feel like it’s a special organization -- and it really is.
CFI: When did you first hear about CFI?
DD: I'd known Mary Nally, the Executive Director of CFI, and a few friends that had worked for CFI and they'd always had really great things to say about it and were really kind of in love with their work. That was really awesome to see!
Mary came to a class that I was taking at OU (it was called “Farm To Table”), and she promoted the Summer Service Corp. I thought, “That sounds like a good idea, and I can get school credit!” I ended up helping out with the school garden steward position, with one of the former AmeriCorps members, and I loved it. It was awesome! Then I applied for AmeriCorps the next season, mostly so that I could do exactly that position again.
CFI: Why is the work of CFI important to you personally? Does it strike a chord with you in any personal way?
DD: I felt like when I was serving with CFI, I grew a lot as a person -- professionally and personally.
It’s just a really good and welcoming place for me. I just felt very welcome to share my ideas, and I felt much more comfortable about myself and learning more about how non-profit organizations work. The Corps position left me feeling ready for another step of something bigger in my life, and I really liked that.
I think getting involved with CFI is very celebratory and rewarding and opens you up for personal growth. When that happens, I think it does a lot for the community and the people that you work with, and the kids that you work with, and the farmers. If you are thriving and making improvements to yourself, all of that good energy just kind of trickles out.
I think at the core CFI strikes a chord in my sense of confidence and compassion, and I learned a lot, and I grew a lot.
CFI: Do you think with CFI there is a certain issue that the non-profit is out there to address or a service that this business provides in the surrounding area?
DD: I think in a nutshell, the goal of CFI is to help alleviate food insecurity in the region and to share the message of that and educate how communities get to that point, without just serving as temporary help. CFI is here to solve a problem.
Beyond what we do, CFI is an inspiration in this way, in that it’s a small organization that is pretty well respected and well-known in the community. We do what we say, and we make great improvements every year.
It’s a really inspirational organization, to see the direct impacts in the community. CFI helps people to be healthier and happier, and it’s awesome.
CFI: Is there anything about CFI that you really like or have a passion for, whether it’s one specific component or overall aspect that you love the most?
DD: I have always felt really drawn to the YEAH! Kids program. There were certainly some tough parts of helping to coordinate that program, being an adult-figure and being in charge. But overall it was one of the best experiences I had with my position, and I just love that program and hope it continues. It’s a lot more persona, and I don't know how to describe it -- but you can tell it is handing down skills about gardening and working in a kitchen, and it’s just awesome to me.
I have a place in my heart for YEAH! Kids, and I hope it goes on forever.