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Dishing up service

Student volunteers with Berkshire Food Project


02/10/2010

Once a week, Jessica Krason '11 of Easthampton, MA, gets up a little earlier than usual and walks to downtown North Adams to the Berkshire Food Project, an organization that provides free meals to area residents in need. By 9 a.m., she's busy in the kitchen as she helps to prepare lunch. She then serves the meals and cleans up once the noontime meal is through.

The business administration major began volunteering at the Food Project last November, where she realized how many others needed assistance. On average, the Berkshire Food Project provides 13,000 free meals per week to the community at the First Congregational Church in North Adams.

"Last semester, I had mainly evening classes, so I had time in the morning," Krason explains. "And, as much I love sleeping in like every other college student, I wanted to find a more productive use of my time. I also wanted to find a way to become more involved with the community and attempt to get other students more involved with the North Adams community," she says.

"She's wonderful," says Jeannie Ranney, chef and kitchen manager for Berkshire Food Project.  "She's very good in the kitchen - she's helpful. She's great with the patrons. She's always smiling and works very hard. Sometimes, she also brings in a nice group of other students from MCLA to help."

The experience, Krason says, has taught her to not take things for granted "and to look at the glass half full and not half empty. My favorite part is the end of the day when all the work is done and knowing that I used my time to help people and help them not worry about where they can go to eat."

No stranger to volunteer work, Krason regularly donated her time at a nursing home while still in high school. Her volunteer work on the MCLA campus includes raising money for Cystic Fibrosis, as well as helping out at various campus events. She also participates in Student Government Association and the Student Activities Council, and is involved with Colleges against Cancer.

After learning of her parents' strong approval of the college and the campus, Krason chose MCLA.

"I like this school because it is small and you get to build a relationship with your teachers. I also love the people here, and being a part of the student government and other activities keeps me busy and involved on campus," she says.

With the goal of one day becoming an event organizer, through her volunteer work at the Food Project, Krason is gaining skills she plans to use after she graduates. "This has helped me get a sense of working with different types of people, along with how to work with what you have," she explains.