After picking up a weekly shift packaging food at No More Empty Pots in Omaha, senior Caliyah Forte is finding a simple way to give back to her community.
There are all sorts of ways Huskers spend their time over the summer. For Forte, the simple choice to commit time each week to volunteering for No More Empty Pots is having a big impact — both for Forte’s outlook and for the communities that No More Empty Pots serves.
“I told myself I wanted to be productive this summer and make the most out of it. I wanted to do something that was fulfilling for me,” she said “The feeling I get from volunteering, especially in my community, is really fulfilling.”
No More Empty Pots is an Omaha-based nonprofit that focuses on food security for urban and rural communities in the region. The organization’s mission, and particularly its impact in the North Omaha area where Forte grew up, was enough to jolt her out of a not-so-great-day in college and motivate her to learn more.
“I was having a really bad day and was going to just go home and sleep for the rest of the day, but I didn’t think that would be very productive of me,” Forte said. “Instead, I joined my friend at a job fair. No More Empty Pots caught my attention because I’m from North Omaha and seeing what they’re doing — providing quality produce and nutritious foods to low-income families — felt very important to me.”
That connection prompted Forte to reach out to their community relations coordinator to set up a tour that ended with her signing up for a weekly volunteer shift.
On the surface, Caliyah’s shift entails packaging foods to go out to clients. In reality, it’s an outlet for Forte to grow personally and professionally, even giving her ideas for careers she may want to pursue after college that she hadn’t previously considered.
“Volunteering just expands my…everything. I’m meeting and networking with so many new people, learning new skills and realizing that I might have an interest in working with nonprofits after I graduate,” Forte said.
And though her job and summer classes take up the majority of her time, Forte said that volunteering — a comparatively smaller time commitment — is the highlight of her week.
“I’m super passionate about it, so I think that’s what keeps me going,” she said. “I can honestly say volunteering is one thing I look forward to each week. Plus, it’s fun! And if we don’t do it, who will?”