I am Connor Rauch and am a rising sophomore intending to major in either History or Philosophy. This summer I have the incredible opportunity to work at a non-profit in Seattle called Community Lunch on Capitol Hill (CLCH). CLCH not only provides four hot meals a week and other emergency services to anyone who needs them, but also works to establish a genuine community among guests and volunteers that recognizes the humanity of some of Seattle’s most neglected residents. Approximately 60 percent of our guests are homeless while 40 percent are low income. Due to the fact that the homeless population in Seattle is proliferating and housing and food become drastically less affordable for many, CLCH is providing an increasingly essential service to the most vulnerable people in the community.
Due to the small size of CLCH, I have the opportunity to engage in various aspects of operating a small non-profit. During the meal services, I direct volunteers in setting up for and preparing the meal, assign serving duties for the meal, and help make sure providing food for around 200 hungry people runs smoothly. The most rewarding part of my job is getting to know the people who attend the lunches. One unofficial policy among my co-workers is to learn the names of at least two guests at every meal. I have ardently followed this suggestion and, as a result, have had many incredible conversations and developed friendships with regular meal attendees.
When not directing volunteers and interacting with guests at the meals, I occupy my time with community outreach and grant research. On June 6, I created signs for and helped set up a table and performed outreach at the Capitol Hill Central Co-op grocery store in order to explain to shoppers what CLCH does and to recruit new cooks, volunteers, and donors. I have also had an intimate look into the hiring process through helping brainstorm, write, and edit job descriptions. My main special project for the summer is researching grants, partnerships, and other ways this non-profit can attain additional and necessary funding. This project is an exciting challenge because I have the opportunity to learn experientially about how organizations like CLCH obtain funding and how the grant research and writing process works. Hopefully, through my work with grants and partnerships will have a lasting impact on CLCH and the fulfillment of their mission.
My motivation for working at a non-profit that directly serves the most vulnerable members of our society was directly informed by my first-year studies at Whitman. In a philosophy class titled, “Ethics After Auschwitz,” I was deeply compelled after reading a piece by the ethical philosopher, Emmanuel Levinas. In summary, Levinas argues that the vulnerability communicated through the face of another person serves as a moral imperative that requires putting the needs of that person above oneself. This facial imperative is especially present every day among those CLCH serves. This philosophy class in conjunction with the internship taught me that seemingly abstruse notions are often applicable to our daily lives. However, the most important lesson that I will take away from this internship is that groups of people cannot be reduced to statistics or generalizations. Rather, they are individuals that confer an imperative through their intrinsic vulnerability.
Experiences like Connor’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff