One Meal at a Time, 2020 PIIE Scholarship Recipient Ally Faller, is Changing Boulder
Ally Faller is charting her own path — turning a summer internship at Meals on Wheels into a career. The recent University of Colorado Boulder (CU) graduate plans to use her dual degrees in Creative Technologies and Design and English to fight food insecurity.
Ally, the recipient of CU’s 2020 Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE) Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship, is now working full time as a marketing and communications associate at the non-profit organization. In her position, which she began after her December 2020 graduation, Ally works on graphic design projects and heads the client acquisition campaign designed to spread awareness about the services Meals on Wheels offers to help a greater number of people in the Boulder, Colorado, area.
“Meals on Wheels is not a service you can only use when you’re in the worst situation of your entire life,” she said. “We can serve anyone who needs a little extra help.”
When deciding between Meals and Wheels and one other organization for her PIIE application, the food non-profit struck an intense personal chord.
Ally, who is in recovery from an eating disorder she faced freshman year of college, says the experience left her with strong feelings about fighting food insecurity — a problem that affects nearly 54 million people in the United States.
“When I first saw Meals on Wheels, I thought about how there are people in my community who do not have enough to eat and who feel invisible and unloved and uncared for,” she said. “Because of my own personal history, I felt like I could definitely care very, very deeply about the work that I would do with that organization.”
Meals on Wheels Boulder provides daily well-being checks and delivers nutritionally balanced, high-quality meals to any person, regardless of age or income, in the Boulder City area who might not otherwise have access to healthy food or a friendly face.
As an intern at Meals on Wheels, Ally worked in the marketing and communications department where she was able to use her ingenuity as a graphic designer.
“Ally is creative, dependable, and highly motivated,” Ally’s supervisor, Kate Laubacher, said. “She takes initiative and jumps into new projects with enthusiasm.” Those initiatives included designing a newsletter for the organization’s mailing list and refreshing its photo bank with pictures of meals.
Ally calls her internship a transformative experience. “When I first started I was thinking about people in need as an abstract,” she said. Seeing how much empathy the volunteers feel for clients, and how much care goes into every meal made Ally realize how her job changes the lives of the people who use the non-profit’s services.
Graduating amid a pandemic, Ally said she is incredibly grateful for the Casey Feldman Memorial PIIE scholarship, which provides students a stipend to work with a non-profit or government agency for the summer.
“I, like many other students, can’t work a summer job for free, and it’s really hard to work for a nonprofit and get paid, especially as an intern,” she said. “Having this scholarship permitted me to take that internship and then in turn, that internship got me a full time job in a very difficult job market right after graduating.”
Despite her own experience working with a non-profit, Ally says working with a philanthropic organization isn’t the only way to make a difference.
“There are a lot of ways to improve the world, and a lot of that is making people feel seen,” she said. “Starting to help in any capacity starts with the simplest things like making eye contact with people on public transportation or smiling at people you pass on the street, and then moving from on from there.