Two Non-Profits, One Incredible Mission: Casey Feldman Scholarship Recipients Close the Gap between Poor Nutrition & School Lunches 

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

By Savannah Mather*

Photo by Kristen Boyer for the Chef Ann Foundation

Over the past few years, three students from the University of Colorado Boulder received Casey Feldman Foundation scholarships for their internships at the Chef Ann Foundation, a nationally expanding non-profit. With akin to mission-driven values and a dedication to raising awareness like the Casey Feldman Foundation, the Chef Ann Foundation is a pioneer in efforts to make school lunches healthier, more nutritious, and sustainable. Our scholarship recipients have contributed to that goal and learned valuable skills in the process. 

The Importance of Healthy School Lunches and the Founding of the Chef Ann Foundation

For many kids, school lunch is one of the most important meals of their day, which means it should be nutritious and healthy, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Food distributors that provide schools with products such as meat have been criticized for many years due to their lacking quality standards. The Chef Ann Foundation recognized the disparity between wholesome lunches and their accessibility, resulting in a pledge to provide schools across the country a massive culinary upgrade.  

Founded in 2009 by Chef Ann Cooper in Boulder, Colorado, the Chef Ann Foundation works with both private and public schools in all 50 states, and has provided over 3.3 million kids with healthier meals. Before starting the Chef Ann Foundation, Cooper was the Food Service Director for Boulder Valley School District where she saw the need for more resources and support in improving school lunches. The solution: Introducing scratch cooked meals.

“It’s really the difference between heat and serve: opening a bag of chicken nuggets or a bag of chicken patties and putting them in the oven to reheat versus having raw chicken, breading it, baking, using fresh fruits and vegetables, whole ingredients, that type of thing,” Emily Gallivan, the director of programs at the Chef Ann Foundation said. 

Gallivan began working at the foundation six years ago, after receiving her masters in food studies at Chatham University. Gallivan found that what stood out in the Chef Ann Foundation is its dedication to providing proper nutrition to students and educating local school systems in utilizing scratch cooking. 

The National Education Association found that “One out of six children lacks consistent access to the food needed for fueling their bodies and minds” (National Education Association, 2021). When students don’t receive proper nutrition, their ability to learn, concentrate, and behave is negatively impacted. 

“It really revolves around a couple of key areas. It supports academic success for students, it can be the primary source of food and nutrition for some students throughout the day, and we often hear that a hungry kid can’t learn,” Gallivan said. 

The Chef Ann Foundation website offers a multitude of resources for educators and supporters to learn about the importance of scratch food cooking in schools, one of them being the Lunchbox. The Lunchbox is an online toolkit that anyone can access for free that provides step-by-step guides on scratch cooking, as well as recipes and resources for schools that want to convert their food system to more healthy, nutritious meals. According to Gallivan, the foundation also granted around 6,000 salad bars to school districts across the nation through the Salad Bars to Schools program which launched in 2010. 

Over 22 million kids rely on free or reduced-price lunches as well, which means that the meals they eat at school are oftentimes when they receive the most sustenance and nutrients during the day. 

“It can also be a big equity issue,” Gallivan said, “We want every child to have a healthy meal everyday and so that shouldn’t matter what your background, race, ethnicity, or family’s financial situation is. None of that should matter when it comes to what you’re able to eat at school.” 

Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship Interns Work With the Chef Ann Foundation

With a small in-office team, however, the Chef Ann Foundation relies on the help of interns and volunteers to support their mission in making healthy school lunches widely available.  The Casey Feldman Foundation has since sponsored and awarded a stipend to three students who have interned at the Chef Ann Foundation throughout the years, and all three of which were deemed as excellent resources during their time. 

“They’ve been huge assets to our team and they’ve contributed to a variety of our projects. We are always moving fast and doing a lot of different projects,” Gallivan said, “It’s been a huge support for us.”

These three interns, Anna Hadjiyiannis, Ally Roberts, and Heidi Kathleen Stimac, contributed to digital marketing and brand awareness, summarized new food studies research and reports, wrote blogs on the foundation’s website, interviewed food service directors, developed fundraising reports, and contributed to overall project management. 

“We want them to come away with a much better understanding of some of those complexities,” Gallivan said, “And also stronger organizational skills, managing deadlines, and working with a team as well as independently.” 

2018 Scholarship Recipient Inspired to Pursue Philanthropy Work

Heidi Stimac, a graduate from the University of Colorado Boulder, interned at the Chef Ann Foundation in 2018. Stimac now works in the philanthropy department for a large non-profit organization called Rotary International and said that her experience at the foundation propelled her career at another non-profit. 

“I was like okay, this is an environment that I want to be in. The mission driven aspect of it was something that became really important to me, and still is really important to me,” Stimac said. 

According to Gallivan, sponsored Casey Feldman Foundation interns were a huge help in their team’s success, and it was equally as rewarding to provide valuable professional skills that they could take with them in their future careers. 

“The people that work there are great, and they were so happy to try and help me learn what I wanted to learn and work on projects that I wanted to work on. It was a good experience all together,” Stimac said. 

The Casey Feldman Foundation rewards many hard-working students who participate in unpaid internships that are mission-driven. Without the stipend, Stimac said wouldn’t have been able to have the experience of working at the Chef Ann Foundation. 

“The Casey Feldman Foundation made all of that possible, and I’m so grateful because I would not be working where I am or doing what I’m doing now if I hadn’t had that experience at the Chef Ann Foundation,” Stimac said.

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*Savannah graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism in December, 2021. She was the first recipient of the Casey Feldman CU Journalism Scholarship stipend.  Savannah is pursuing a career in multimedia & digital content creation, and hopes to someday write for an environmental nonprofit group.

Anna Hadjiyiannis – Peach Orchard to PIIE Scholarship

Thursday, January 13th, 2022

Anna Hadjiyiannis

By Mackenzie Eldred*

Anna Hadjiyiannis received the 2021 Casey Feldman Foundation PIIE Scholarship and was the third recipient to have selected an internship with the nonprofit, Chef Ann Foundation, whose mission was one Anna agreed with and stood by. Through the Casey Feldman Foundation’s Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE ) scholarship program, students receive funding for a summer internship for a governmental agency or non-profit organization. Based in Boulder, CO, the Chef Ann Foundation supports school districts throughout the country by providing the resources and funding needed to provide fresh, healthy meals in school.

The Chef Ann Foundation began about 10 years ago when Chef Ann Cooper began to notice the unhealthy lunches provided by schools during her time as the Director of Food Services for Boulder Valley School District. When Anna saw the foundation’s name listed on the CU PIIE internship list, she immediately applied because she knew she would be invested in their mission.

Currently a junior at the University of Colorado Boulder, Anna is majoring in elementary education with a minor in Spanish. Working at the Chef Ann Foundation as a School Food Reform intern allowed Anna to combine her interest in education and healthy food by providing opportunities to educate school food professionals and children about health.

“I genuinely was passionate about what they were doing,” Anna said. “It’s something I experience. It’s something I know. It’s something I do in my own life. So, I was just marrying all these important realms in my life in a very neat way.”

The peach orchard in spring on the western slope of Colorado in Palisade where Anna worked summers since the age of 15.

Food has always been a big part of Anna’s life as her mother has always emphasized the importance of nutrition. Working at a peach orchard and farmer’s market since the age of 15 has also allowed Anna to learn about agriculture and the importance of buying locally. Being a Colorado native, Anna was one of the first groups to see the effects of Boulder’s school food before Chef Ann stepped in to help.

“I actually can recall that switch,” Anna said. “So it was actually really important, really meaningful to me the fact that I got the internship in the first place.”

Anna’s supervisor, Emily Gallivan, director of programs, said Anna completed a variety of tasks for the Chef Ann Foundation during her internship. Her daily tasks included working on the organization’s impact and reach numbers, data analytics, summaries of the latest research on school food and graphic design work.

“Anna was a great asset to our team and brought a wonderful positive and can-do energy,” Emily said. “She was flexible when new projects came up or someone on the team needed more immediate help. She was very thoughtful about her work and always made sure to ask questions when she needed additional guidance or support. Her contributions allowed us to catch-up on many pieces that our team had more limited capacity for and to have more general support for our programs.”

Interning at the Chef Ann Foundation provided Anna with her first experience working in an office job. She learned how to work with different teams and communicate professionally over email, as well as learned how nonprofits work and what nonprofit outreach looks like.

After spending the summer interning for the Chef Ann Foundation, Anna believes she will seek a career as an elementary school teacher and will then pursue non-profit work or policy work surrounding education.

Read about some of our other PIIE scholarship recipients.

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that other students may have the experience and non-profits the benefit, of a student internship.

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*Mackenzie Eldred is a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she majors in journalism with a minor in English. She currently serves as a book editor for a remote publishing house, Dreaming Big Publications. With prior experience working as editor-in-chief for a school newspaper, Mackenzie hopes to pursue a career in writing and editing.

 

 

Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship Recipient Dylan Mark Pays it Forward

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

By Isabella Scipioni*

Dylan Mark and Elizabeth Skewes (Dept. of Journalism Chair, CU) with Casey Feldman Foundation founders Joel Feldman (L) and Dianne Anderson (R) meeting this summer to discuss the Foundation’s new journalism scholarship program

Each year, the Casey Feldman Foundation awards a scholarship to  students in the University of Colorado-Boulder Public Interest Internship Experience (CU PIIE), providing the funds to receive a salary for an otherwise unpaid internship at a public service agency or non-profit. The 2012 recipient, Dylan Mark, was unable to take an unpaid internship at the time, but the Casey Feldman Foundation scholarship gave him the opportunity to accept a position he otherwise could not have taken.

Non-Profits Generally Don’t Offer Paid Internships

“Non-profits at that time especially had a ton of unpaid internships, and it was really uncommon for a paid internship to be in that space. The Casey Feldman Foundation and Joel and Dianne Anderson enabled me to be able to participate in the internship,” said Mark.

Dylan accepted a position at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, which shelters 7,000 animals each year. He had a rotational experience at the shelter and was able to work in multiple areas including the vet clinic, the front desk, animal intake, and adoptions. After completing his internship, Dylan was given a new career opportunity at CU Boulder.

Casey Feldman Foundation Supported Internship Leads to Full Time Position

Dylan Mark (R) in 2015 at the Feldman home with Casey Feldman Foundation PIIE scholarship recipients Colin Mayberry (2013, Nature Conservancy) and Ramya Palaniappan (2015, Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center)

“I got an internship with Career Services that eventually led to my job, so I can say for certain that without this internship that I wouldn’t have been able to get to where I am now,” said Mark.

Dylan was offered a full-time position in the Career Services office after graduating, and he currently serves as the Program Manager for Professional Experiences at CU Boulder. He now works with students and employers to ensure that students feel prepared for their careers ahead of them and can get valuable work experience while still in college. In this position, Dylan gets to carry on the CU PIIE value of helping people in his community.

“I get to do work every day that benefits the world and benefits others,” said Mark.

Dylan received a BA in Sociology with a minor in Religious Studies from CU Boulder in 2013, and this winter, he will graduate with an MS in Marketing from CU Denver. Dylan credits working at the University as the reason he went back to school, saying that the encouragement and tuition benefits offered to employees ultimately led to his decision. Dylan plans on evaluating his skillset over the next few years and figuring out what his next career move will be.

To Make the World a Better Place

Dylan with his painting of “The Flatirons”

“I know that wherever I work, whether it be for a non-profit or a for-profit, I want to have a community, social, or environmental impact on the world around me. I just want to be able to influence the world to be a better place,” said Mark.

Dylan is also doing just that through the vibrant and colorful artwork that he makes in his spare time, believing “that art should be something that creates community and supports others.” A percentage of any art that he sells is donated to charity. Currently, 100% of his sales on prints through his Etsy shop is going to Direct Relief, a charity that serves in emergency situations around the world.

Mark and his wife are also expecting their first child, and they plan on taking this time to reflect on their careers and enjoy this exciting new experience. Dylan is excited to see what the future holds for him and is grateful to be a Casey Feldman Foundation scholarship recipient.

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Read about some of our other PIIE scholarship recipients.

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that other students may have the experience and non-profits the benefit, of a student internship.

*Isabella Scipioni is a sophomore at Fordham University Lincoln Center and is majoring in political science. She is originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and is currently an Assistant Social Media Editor for the Fordham Observer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Casey Feldman Foundation Awards First CU Journalism Scholarship to Savannah Mather

Monday, July 5th, 2021

Savannah Mather

By Samantha Matthews*

Savannah Mather believes in the importance of creating an informed society. Savannah, who is a rising senior at The University of Colorado, Boulder, (CU Boulder) has received the first Casey Feldman Foundation  Scholarship Stipend for journalism students. The endowment at CU was originally established to provide a stipend for computer science students to provide IT work for a nonprofit , but Dianne Anderson, cofounder of the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation stated  that it was time for a change.

“It was a wonderful goal to introduce computer science students to the nonprofit world and at the same time aid small nonprofits. However, We had waning interest from computer science students presumably because they had no problem finding well paid internships. It seemed quite natural to change the endowment to support journalism students given Casey’s passion for journalism and the critical need at this time to support those who have chosen this career path. Casey believed the press plays a critical role in our society and we do as well,” Dianne said. 

Savannah couldn’t agree more with Casey that the press is an integral facet of society. Ever since kindergarten, Savannah has known she wanted to be a writer and tell other people’s stories. However, it wasn’t until high school that she discovered what she truly wanted to write about. “My junior year of high school, I took an AP environmental science class and I absolutely fell in love with it,” Savannah said. “I loved everything about environmentalism, conservation, sustainability, and ecology.”

As soon as Savannah arrived at CU Boulder she decided to combine her passion for the environment with her love of writing and declared herself as a journalism major and geography minor. This was the start of her journey towards becoming an environmental journalist. Savannah feels as though journalism, specifically that relating to the environment, is an essential function of democracy.

Savannah reflected, “Journalism is more important now than ever. Unfortunately, we live in an age of misinformation that is spread so easily, and is threatening to journalism as a function of democracy.” She continued that she hopes to be a journalist reporting accurate information on matters like climate change and make it available to the larger public to create a sense of greater understanding.

“Environmentalism and climate change is such a complex topic,  and with the amount of science and research that we have, it’s so hard to disseminate that information and make it digestible to a general audience. But it’s really important because there are things happening right now in front of our eyes that are extremely threatening to our environment,” Savannah said.

During her time at CU Boulder, Savannah was able to join their student-run newspaper, The CU Independent. She joined the opinions section her freshman year, and took her time to define her niche in the paper as an environmental journalist. This past fall, Savannah wrote an article about the struggles between safety and sustainability amid the pandemic and the increase of single-use waste. 

To Dianne, Savannah stood out among the rest of the applicants. “We loved that Savannah jumped right into writing for the university newspaper as a freshman and quickly became an editor by her sophomore year, like Casey did at Fordham. During this critical time of climate change we were thrilled to have an applicant who also has a background in science and aspires to become an environmental journalist. That she also had written about social justice justices issues sealed the deal so to speak!”

While Savannah spends most of her time appreciating and fighting for nature through the words in her articles, she also loves to spend her free time outdoors. An avid snowboarder, watersports player, and hiker, she climbed her first fourteener mountain, one of Colorado’s tallest mountains, last year.  

Professionally, Savannah has just completed an internship for Kurani, an architecture firm devoted to solving the world’s biggest problems through architecture. According to their website, their designs like literacy lounges and Black arts centers help “improve conditions for education, the environment, immigrants, poverty, social justice, wellness and women around the world.” 

Savannah found her time at Kurani as a journalism intern to be extremely rewarding and surprisingly impactful. “While architecture may not fit into the realm of environmentalism that I want to pursue, this internship has taught me that public spaces have just as much of an impact in how we interact, respect, and utilize the environment both inside and outside,” she revealed. 

Looking into how we utilize the Earth’s resources and how that can in turn, aid public service, sustainability, and social justice initiatives, has helped Savannah create a more nuanced perspective on what it means to be a journalist. 

Savannah hopes to implement the important lessons she has learned from her internship after she graduates from CU Boulder this fall. She dreams of travelling to all the amazing places the world has to offer while advocating for the environment as a journalist. A few of her biggest aspirations are to one day have her own podcast and work on a National Geographic environmental documentary. 

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Read about our Computer Science Stipend Recipients

View all of our scholarships and gifts 

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that we may continue to recognize and award outstanding students with scholarships

*Samantha Matthews is a sophomore at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she majors in Communications and Media Studies. She currently serves as the Features Editor at the Fordham Observer, and one day hopes to go to law school.

 

First Generation College Student Awarded Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship

Friday, November 1st, 2019

Compassion and kindness is something that Kylie Davis strives to exhibit throughout her life.

By Melanie Riehl

First-generation college student Kylie Davis is one of this year’s Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipients. An undergraduate at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU), Kylie works 35 hours per week at 3 different jobs to finance her education and make ends meet. Despite juggling her course work and jobs, Kylie still manages to make the time to  participate in community service — a love of hers that stems from childhood.

Dedication to Community Service Instilled at a Young Age

From a young age, Kylie’s parents instilled generosity and empathy in her, dedicating their family to community service. She volunteered with them at a soup kitchen growing up, especially helping out during the winter months where more people in need would come in search of food and warmth. Kylie strongly values her community and shows her gratitude by giving back, saying, “My tie to my community is one of my many drivers. My parents taught me the importance of compassion and kindness and it is now something I strive to exhibit throughout my life, whether it be in the workplace or in my personal life.”

Service Work at CU

Kylie carried her commitment to giving back with her when she began her college career, taking on a role as a peer mentor as well as being a youth counselor for low-income middle school students. As a peer mentor through the Diverse Scholars Program at CU, Kylie guided freshmen through the trials and tribulations of their first year of college. She also helped organize community-building events as well as made significant efforts to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all at CU. As a youth counselor, she taught middle schoolers basic accounting and finance, seeing herself reflected in the students and hoping to set an example for them to look up to. One of her goals is “to inspire and aid the success of others,” which she excelled at in these roles.

Alternative Spring Break to Teach Earth Science to 5th Graders

Kylie’s philanthropic spirit led her to apply for a Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship, where she was given the opportunity to travel outside of Colorado and engage in service work over her one week off from college in the spring. Kylie’s Alternative Spring Break took her to YMCA Camp Campbell in California where she taught earth science to fifth graders.  She was responsible for not only educating these students, but for establishing an engaging and safe environment for them, as the program is part of a sleep-away camp. She reflected on this experience, saying, “It had an incredible impact on me. Each of the ten kids I looked after really made a long-lasting impact on me.” This opportunity took her passion for mentorship to new heights, and she looks back on it fondly, saying, “Each child I spent the week with had such a unique personality, and it was so rewarding to get to know them.”

It is our privilege to reward students like Kylie with scholarships to follow their passion for community service and take part in a unique opportunity they would not otherwise be able to afford.

[Read about some of our past Alternative Spring Break scholarship recipients]

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*Melanie Riehl is a sophomore Communications and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center. She serves as a Copy Editor on the executive board of Fordham’s student newspaper, The Observer.

My Memorable Internship Experience Made Possible by the Casey Feldman Foundation

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

By Heidi Stimac

For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in working in the nonprofit sector. I love the idea that my professional work could contribute to improving the lives of others but, had no idea how to get my foot in the door. So when I heard about the Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE) program at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) my junior year, I was excited to say the least. The PIIE program at CU is a competitive one where students apply to the program, and if accepted, they get matched with a nonprofit or government agency for a summer internship. I learned about the program only a couple of days before the 2018 application deadline and luckily I was accepted and matched up with my first choice organization, the Chef Ann Foundation. All of the organizations with which PIIE students are matched do not have the resources to pay a student intern and funding from the Casey Feldman Foundation enabled me to be paid for my work at this tremendous organization.

The Chef Ann Foundation is a Boulder-based nonprofit that provides schools with tools, resources, and grants that help them provide healthy and scratch-cooked meals to their students. I remember feeling so lucky that I was able to intern at an organization with such an amazing mission, and I have the PIIE program and the Casey Feldman Foundation to thank! During my time at Chef Ann, I got to work events, write blogs, do research, compile data, and so much more. While I am so grateful for the professional skills and tools I learned during my time at Chef Ann, I am even more grateful to have been a part of such an incredible team at the organization.

While the Chef Ann Foundation has national reach with programs in all 50 states, the team is relatively small. We had between 7-9 employees working out of our office at any given time. But while the team was small in numbers, it was big in heart. The folks at Chef Ann worked tirelessly to achieve the mission of the organization. I was consistently inspired by the tenacity of my small group of coworkers. Their ability to think big and commit themselves to the mission was something I doubt I’ll ever forget. Chef Ann Foundation became a family to me. My internship started out as a summer gig through the PIIE program, but as the end of last summer approached I was asked to stay on as a part-time intern during my senior year at CU Boulder.

In my nine months at Chef Ann Foundation, I learned more than I ever thought I would. I came away from my internship their with a deep understanding of the type of professional environment I want to be part of in the future. At Chef Ann, we lifted each other up, encouraged each other, and worked toward a common goal. I could not have asked for more from my summer internship at Chef Ann Foundation.

This fall, I am heading off to King’s College London to pursue a Master’s degree in Emerging Economies and International Development. I’m not sure where this new endeavor will take me professionally, but I know that when I begin the career search, I’ll be looking for an environment like that of the Chef Ann Foundation. I can’t thank the PIIE program and the Casey Feldman Foundation enough for making this experience possible for me!

With the Chef Ann Foundation team on the last day of my internship

 

 

My Alternative Spring Break in New Orleans – A Rewarding and Unforgettable Experience

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

By Tim Inthavong*

My fellow CU volunteers and I while working with Common Ground Relief

There are significant moments that change a person’s life and how they view the world, and my Alternative Spring Break trip to New Orleans was an unforgettable experience that I will remember forever. I am truly grateful to the Casey Feldman Foundation for funding my trip with a scholarship stipend which enabled me to volunteer to help a community and environment in need.

At the outset, my fellow volunteer students and I from the University of Colorado Boulder worked with the nonprofit, Common Ground Relief  headquartered in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Founded initially in 2005 to provide disaster relief following Hurricane Katrina, Common Ground has since revised it’s mission to reflect a forward-looking focus to restore and preserve Louisiana’s disappearing coastal wetlands. Wetlands are crucial to prevent flooding since they hold water much like a sponge, helping to keep river waters normal, and slowly releasing water when levels are low. In addition to many other benefits, the wetlands provide a habitat for a diverse group of wildlife.

After being introduced to the environmental issues affecting the Lower Ninth Ward community due to Hurricane Katrina, our group worked at a plant nursery where we watered and removed weeds from bull grasses that would be used to restore the wetlands. My favorite and most rewarding  experience was then actually planting the bull grasses onto the wetland floor.

In the wetlands where we worked to plant bull grasses

At first, I felt uncomfortable and was in fact, very nervous to physically plant them. I worried about the difficulty in moving through all of the thick algae and the uncertainty as to how deep I was swimming. I continued however, and planted the grasses. I felt great satisfaction afterwards in knowing that I had contributed to helping to restore the wetlands and mitigate the effects of a future hurricane on the people of New Orleans. The experience had another strong impact on me as well, in that it served as a learning opportunity.  I realized that it’s okay to be scared in a new and uncomfortable situation and that by proceeding in the face of it, I can conquer that fear.

My group also performed volunteer work at Crevasse 22, an indoor and outdoor art exhibit with an ecological theme.  It sits in a natural area of forests and marshes and contains a deep lake, created by a crevasse, or breach in the levee in 1922.  It is steps away from the Mississippi River and borders St. Bernard State Park. Our work there was to uproot and get rid of  invasive plants damaging the natural habitat of wildlife. This service that was done was the most difficult, but it was extremely rewarding to know that our work was supporting a safe environment for animals to live and grow their population. I thought of Casey Feldman and her love of animals and how my work there was made possible through the Foundation established in her memory. It was deeply gratifying knowing that I was honoring and continuing her legacy.

My Alternative Spring Break trip also afforded me the opportunity to create and build new relationships.  My group and I traveled together in a van for 40 hours round-trip from Boulder, Colorado and lived and worked together the entire week. I did not know any of my fellow volunteers when the trip began, but, by the end of the week, I had 15 close friends  –  David Ruin, Julia Book, Tyler Ennis, Danya Arie, Diantha McAllister, Elise Warnock, Emma Blanken, Feben Kassahun, Hiba Abdali, Jose Canizares, Julia Smith, Maggie Hearn, Marissa Kelly, Mohammed, Pujan Tandukar, Vladimir Brizuela. Without them, the service week would not have been as enriching an experience.

I came into this trip far from my community in Westminster, Colorado not knowing much about the environmental issues facing the people of New Orleans and it’s wildlife habitat. But, by at the end of the week, I had gained so much knowledge about the issues facing the people of Louisiana 12 years after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation.

As I get older and look back at this trip, I can say “I really made in impact on others.”  It makes me smile to know that I made a difference through an experience that I was able to share with others. Above the clouds, I picture Casey Feldman smiling too.

On the site of Crevasse 22 where we worked to remove invasive species

In the forest at Crevasse 22

 

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*Tim Inthavong just completed his junior year at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is studying economics and business and would like to work  for a hospital as a health administrator after graduating. He is one of five children of a single refugee mother whom he has worked to support in and around his studies and volunteer work.

Immigrant Scholarship Recipient Hopes to Pursue a Medical Career

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

By Morgan Steward*

 

Our Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipient, Gabriela Solano Serna has had to overcome many challenges in her young life. Emigrating from Mexico at age 10, Gabriela and her family left behind everything in order to start a new life in the United States. Unable to receive any government aid, including food stamps, medical care or scholarships through FAFSA, Gabriela and her family have struggled to make ends meet. But, instead of discouraging Gabriela, it has motivated her to volunteer in her community to make a difference for those facing hardships like her family.

The Casey Feldman Foundation scholarship stipend enabled Gabriela to travel to Atlanta last year over her spring break to work with the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition (AHRC). The alternative spring break trip was one of many organized by the Volunteer Resource Center at the University of Colorado Boulder where Gabriela is a student. The AHRC  works to build relationships with individuals who are either suffering from or in danger of contracting HIV/AIDS, STD’s and Hepatitis Viruses and is the only comprehensive harm reduction program in the entire state of Georgia.

During her week in Atlanta, Gabriela did a lot of hands-on work with the coalition in underprivileged communities and visited the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn about the long-term benefits of the work she just participated in. One activity in particular stood out to Gabriela—a needle exchange. A needle exchange is a program that provides drug users with clean needles to prevent them from sharing and re-using contaminated needles, thus drastically lowering the chance of spreading diseases like HIV and AIDS.

“We helped distribute and make safety packs, which [are handed out] to individuals during the needle exchange in a poor community known as the ‘Bluff,’” Gabriela explained.  “After visiting and interacting with individuals from this neighborhood, I was able to see the unprivileged side of the community and learn how the state plays a role in helping the community.”

“I would say that this opportunity helped me—it was definitely an eye opener, but [also] a motivation to pursue a career in the medical field,” Gabriela explained. She hopes to use her talents to become an Obstetrician Gynecologist to honor her sister who passed away in Mexico due to the lack of medical attention.

So what does this remarkable scholarship recipient hope to accomplish in the future? “I am passionate about providing medical care to those in the US that struggle every day to sustain families and who do not have as much access to adequate medical assistance, public benefits (like Medicare) or health care insurance as other privileged groups do,” Gabriela said. As an undocumented immigrant herself, Gabriela’s future plans also include opening a clinic to provide medical assistance, regardless of the patients’ immigration status.

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morga -steward*Morgan Steward is a sophomore Communication and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center (Casey’s alma mater). Born in Beaumont, TX, she to moved to New York City to pursue a career in the media. She is the Arts & Culture Co-Editor of The Observer, Fordham’s student newspaper (where Casey was the News Editor).

The Faces of our 2018 Alternative Spring Break Scholarship Recipients

Friday, March 30th, 2018

By Dianne Anderson*

Spring break is underway at many colleges in the nation. Our University of Colorado Boulder scholarship recipients are off on their Alternative Spring Break – volunteering in various parts of the U.S., with funding made possible through the Casey Feldman Foundation. Take a look at these outstanding young people.

Jaela Zellers

Jaela Zellers – Jaela is a junior majoring in integrative physiology with a double minor in Spanish and women and gender studies, with the hopes of becoming a physician.  A native of Georgia, Jaela has consistently worked 3-4 part-time jobs while taking 18 credit hours per semester. Despite her own hardships at home, sometimes not knowing where her next meal would come from, Jaela has managed to help others through filling boxes of food for the needy or helping build a home through Habitat for Humanity. Zaela works at the Volunteer Resource Center on campus and is currently organizing a service project focused on women’s empowerment for the Better Boulder Day of Service. Jaela’s Alternative Spring Break is in environmental conservation where she is working to protect the habitat and build trails on Catalina Island, CA.

Nicole Fernandez-Perez

 

Nicole Fernandez-Perez – Nicole is a senior and a first generation college student majoring in psychology and minoring in ethnic studies. She currently works with Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN) in Boulder where she supports survivors of domestic violence. Nicole is also a part of Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority Inc.,  where she works to preserve Latina culture in the Latino communities near the CU campus. Nicole is participating in the Disability Advocacy Spring Break Trip in Springfield, Missouri where she is working with a non-profit that focuses on building self-esteem, self confidence and social skills in children and adults with disabilities through education, sports training and competition.

 

Jose “Santos” Navarro

Jose “Santos” Navarro –  Santos, a first-generation American, is a freshman majoring in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology with ultimate hopes of working one day in the Astrobiology Institute at  NASA. Throughout high school, Santos was an outdoor counselor who helped at-risk 5th graders from schools in troubled areas. Often, his biggest responsibility there was to simply be a source of support for the children by listening and hearing their stories. Santos’ Alternative Spring Break has taken him to Houston, TX where he is working in disaster relief, helping to rebuild homes and the community in the aftermath of the devastating hurricane which occurred last year. In looking forward to his week in Houston, Santos stated, “I can’t wait to represent CU Boulder and carry on the values of service through our actions.”

Tim Inthavong

Tim Inthavong –  Tim is a junior studying economics and business and hopes to work one day for a hospital as a health administrator. Tim is the child of a single refugee mother with four siblings and has always worked to help support his family. Despite this, Tim has found time to volunteer in and around his work and studies. Whether working with low income communities by teaching youth about the sciences, or volunteering on Saturdays at the Have A Heart food and clothing bank, Tim feels best when he can be of service to others. Tim’s Alternative Spring Break is taking place in New Orleans, LA where he is helping to rebuild homes for the needy. As he was leaving for the trip, Tim said, “I can’t wait to make a difference!”

 

Thank you Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipients for making a difference in the lives of others! We look forward to hearing about your service work upon the completion of your trips!

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Dianne and Casey, Christmas 2006

 

*Dianne Anderson  is the mother of the late Casey Feldman and co-founder of The Casey Feldman Foundation.

Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship Recipient Learns About Forest Preservation

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

By Jaela Zellers*

Alice Haugland

Alice Haugland was one of two recipients of this past year’s Casey Feldman Foundation PIIE (Public Interest Internship Experience) Scholarship, which enabled her to intern for the summer with the Council of Western State Foresters. Through our PIIE scholarship program, students receive a stipend to work with a non-profit or government agency, which does not have the funding to pay student interns. The Council of Western State Forester’s, based in Denver, CO, is a nonprofit membership organization comprised of state, territorial and commonwealth foresters whose role is to protect, conserve and enhance Western and Pacific Island forests.

A Colorado native and currently a junior at The University of Colorado Boulder (CU), Alice is in the Leeds School of Business, majoring in Operations and Information Management with a minor in Economics and a certificate in Socially Responsible Enterprise. Alice came to CU with the intention of working for a non-profit after graduation and interned her freshman year at Goodwill in New York City.  She describes her experience at The Council of Western State Foresters as “extremely meaningful and engaging” where she “had the opportunity to learn about Western forestry, the environment, and the experience of working with a nonprofit organization”.

As a communications intern, most of Alice’s day-to-day tasks included updating and generating content for the organization’s social media platforms and website as well as tracking analytics. In addition to assisting in the day-to-day operations, Alice was able to work on more long-term projects as well. One of her favorites included helping to edit and revise a written publication on Urban & Community Forestry, summarizing videos regarding forestry in the Pacific Islands, and developing out a social media campaign.

Alice looks forward to a lifelong career of working with nonprofits,  making her a well-deserving recipient The Casey Feldman Foundation PIIE Scholarship. We give our best wishes to Alice in all of her future endeavors!

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*Jaela Zellars is a junior at The University of Colorado Boulder, majoring in integrative physiology and double minoring in Spanish and Women and Gender Studies. She currently works as a Peer Mentor in the Multicultural Living and Learning Community as well as the Volunteer Resource Center at CU where she uses her position to get first-year students engaged in service work.