Feeding the Hungry, Finding a Job

Charis worked with Wolverine World Wide as an intern her senior year.

When it comes to first post-grad jobs, not every single position is the stuff of dreams. But for Charis Brown ’15, a business and social work double major, the job she was offered just three weeks after graduation at Feeding America West Michigan (FAWM) is pretty close.

As a development assistant, she helps the organization raise the money it needs to distribute more than 26 million pounds of food to the hungry in West Michigan each year.

So for Charis, her first job isn’t just a job, it’s a calling— something she believes connects fully to Calvin’s mission to “equip students to think deeply, act justly and live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.”

At Calvin, I was taught to be an ‘agent of renewal’.

What does that mean? Here’s what it means to Charis:

“Being an agent of renewal means caring for those in need: At Feeding America West Michigan, I am able to be a part of a team that is providing food to an estimated 492,100 hungry people in West Michigan and the U.P. each year.

“Being an agent of renewal means caring for God’s creation: Feeding America West Michigan is doing that. Instead of allowing surplus food to become waste, the food bank partners with farms and grocery stores to reclaim their excess food. This means less food waste and more people being fed.

“Being an agent of renewal means bettering our community: Feeding America West Michigan is doing this in so many different ways, but one that comes to mind is its community service program. The Food Bank works with Kent County to provide opportunities for ex-offenders to contribute to the community in a real, immediate way while preparing them to fully re-enter society.”

To prepare for her calling, Charis took courses in business and social work that gave her the right knowledge, skills and experiences she would need to thrive in a successful nonprofit like FAWM. Even in her first year at Calvin, she Charis Brown ’15 was offered a job at Feeding America West Michigan just weeks after graduation, thanks in part to experiences she had as a business major at Calvin. took a January interim class that toured nonprofits in the Grand Rapids area. Later, she completed part of her social work practicum at FAWM.

When it came time to begin the job search, Charis’ professors let her know that FAWM’s development director, Linda Vanderbaan ’70, was recruiting for the position.

“Linda has stated that the food bank has come to rely on Calvin for quality employees and volunteers,” Charis said.

It turned out that Charis was the perfect fit for the position, and the job was a perfect fit for her.

“I am doing the work that Calvin has prepared me to do.”

VERGE: fall 2015

First-Year Experience