In the early morning hours of Saturday, March 15th, I gathered with a group of fellow part-time MBA students in a large parking lot in Landover, Maryland. We were starting our highly anticipated spring break in a wonderful, yet unconventional way: volunteering at the Capital Area Food Bank’s Mobile Markets to distribute fresh fruits and vegetables to families in need. A nonprofit organization, the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) provides 27.5 million meals annually to residents struggling with hunger. The Part-Time MBA Association (PTMBAA) had sponsored the school’s participation in the event and I had the pleasure of organizing it with the help of the rest of the Community Development Committee members.
With this event, the PTMBAA not only had its highest turnout of participants at a community event, but also represented the largest volunteer group that day at the Mobile Markets, which was open to all volunteers in the community. Indeed, a number of students from each of the three Part-time MBA School campuses and their friends and families participated.
Our initial task as volunteers on that breezy, but sunny morning was to setup the mobile market. So we rolled up our sleeves and worked together to assemble the tents and tables and carry boxes of produce to the various stations. We then divided into small groups to provide service and assistance to the mobile markets clientele. One group of volunteers guided families as they entered the market, another group helped them with the registration process, and various groups distributed fruits and vegetables along with recipes for healthy meals. We even had a station where volunteers made fresh smoothies (using a bike-powered blender!) and offered them to families as they made their way around the market.
While helping provide food to residents in need and promoting healthy nutrition, volunteers directly interacted with a diverse set of individuals, including fellow students, other volunteers from the community, and clientele that attended the market. As part-time MBA student Reemberto Rodriguez describes, “It was well worth the early alarm on the first Saturday of our spring break to gather with fellow students to help others in need and promote the CAFB.”
Seeing the grateful and cheerful looks on people’s faces and hearing their positive remarks as we handed out produce and provided them with support made for a truly fulfilling experience. “This really helps my family eat healthier,” a mother commented. “Thank you so much for doing this,” she added. And as two little boys smiled and looked intently at the apples I was dropping in a grocery bag for them, their father commented on how much they like apples. He then looked at them and laughed while saying, “You two boys seem pretty happy!” The feeling was mutual, not just for me, but for all the volunteers who contributed part of their time to help a great cause. Indeed, within a few hours, we had come together and worked as a team to promote healthy nutrition and give out fresh produce to a large number of families in need, making for a rewarding experience for all parties involved.
The PTMBAA Community Development Committee owes special thanks to all the students and their friends and families who volunteered their time at this event. Student volunteers included Adrian Lee, Timothy Mosher, Kristin Nwakobi, Reemberto Rodriguez, Holly Smith, Jessie Sweet, Shabnam Tehrani, and Patrick Yu.
Shabnam Tehrani is a first-year part-time MBA student in the DC campus. After obtaining her degree in Finance, she worked at Accenture, first as a Financial Analyst, then a Financial Specialist. She currently works as an Analyst at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). In her spare time, she enjoys writing, practicing yoga and martial arts, and discovering new places.