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Civic Leadership Means Giving Back to Her Home Community

Kay Andrews stepped outside her field of study and her comfort zone this summer, and gained not only personal satisfaction but professional skills as she organized and managed a large-scale project in her hometown of Holton.

Andrews, an Emporia State University sophomore, is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology (pre-medical), and recently completed a project as director of Summer Meals in Holton.

“The summer meal program didn’t help me define my career plans as much as it gave me a way to give back to the community that I have lived in my whole life,” Andrews explained.

The project was a partnership between her home church, Holton First United Methodist, which provided the labor, and Catholic Charities, which provided the food. Andrews then coordinated with the Holton Parks Department to provide a location for the meals served to children and adults Mondays through Fridays throughout the summer break from classes.

Because a high number of school district children qualified for free and reduced lunches, the Food and Drug Administration reimbursed Catholic Charities for all of the children’s meals. Their only requirement was washing their hands before they ate, Andrews said.

Classes at Emporia State had prepared her to plan and to organize the program.

“Just like you have to strategize a plan for finishing a 10-page paper on time, I had to make sure the food orders were placed and reports submitted on time,” she said.

Andrews was on-site Mondays through Fridays to help with set-up and cleanup, as well as maintaining daily and weekly reports and ordering and inventorying food shipments. Summer meals became part of townspeople’s daily routine, just as serving and talking with them became part of Andrews’ routine. Andrews credited the program with improving her networking and public speaking skills, too.

“This past summer really broadened my horizons and way of thinking,” she said, explaining she’d met people, formed connections and heard their life stories, all through the meals program.

“That never would have happened if I didn’t step out of my comfort zone and take charge of this meal program,” she said. “You never know how much one person or opportunity can make an impact in your life until it happens to you.”

Photo courtesy the Holton Recorder.