Mia Forster '21 got a jump on her winter internship - she started when she was four years old. It wasn't credit bearing as a toddler, and she may have gotten in the way more than anything else, but 17 years ago, Forster learned to love perfect strangers. She's been a volunteer, and now intern, for My Brother's Table ever since.
In 2004, Forster's parents first introduced her to the largest soup kitchen on Massachusetts' North Shore. As a kid volunteer, she made cards, passed out cookies, and greeted anyone who walked in.
When the pandemic hit, the demand for their services increased exponentially. Pre-COVID, they served 70,000 meals a year. Presently, they're providing 90,000 meals per month. It's been all hands on deck for their volunteers, and Forster's now doing much more than handing out cookies. She had always volunteered on breaks from school. Now, she's an invaluable member of the team.
The journalism major has written hundreds of thank you notes. She's collected and sorted thousands of gift cards handed out during the holidays. She delivers meals, and she spends hours talking with the guests. Because of the pandemic, My Brother's Table is not currently able to serve guests in the dining room, but they prepare meals for thousands of people per day, 365 days a year.
My Brother's Table accepts no government funding, so there are no restrictions on who they can serve. Donations are, therefore, essential to keeping the doors open. Forster's Siena family contributed enough money to fund ten gift cards for families in need over Christmas.
At most internships, students train for a career and sharpen their professional skills. That's all true at My Brother's Table. However, Forster believes the more important lessons learned are for the soul:
"The biggest thing I've learned here is to appreciate everyone and everything around me. It's hard not to take the little things for granted. But, I've learned to appreciate every little blessing in life."
"No one was available to deliver meals on New Year's Eve, so my father and I signed up. We set out at 8:00 in the morning - on a cool, raw, wet day - to deliver 21 meals to homebound individuals. It should have taken us two hours, instead it took eight. We drove in circles, chatted with the meal recipients, and got lost more than once. The whole time, we never stopped laughing (I'm laughing right now thinking about it!).
I've been coming here for 17 years, and there's nothing I wouldn't do for this organization and these people. If someone has a need, we'll find a way to solve it."
Mia Forster '21