Valentine’s Day can be a holiday of extravagance and luxury, with many people focused on searching for the perfect date, planning a romantic surprise, or gorging on candy hearts and chocolate but some members of the Boston College community are trying to bring charity into the holiday.
Boston College’s Nourish International is focused on spreading sweetness and compassion through its Jumbo Cupcake Gram Sale.
During her freshman year, Elizabeth Attaya, chapter president and MCAS ’18, saw a flyer for BC Nourish International and it struck her interest.
“Nourish was run by a bunch of seniors, so I thought it would be a good way to meet upperclassmen and make friends,” Attaya said.
Attaya immediately bonded with the club’s president at the time, Lauren Monaghan, BC ’15, who she describes as her “big sister.” After being so involved her freshman year, Attaya became co-president her sophomore year and now as a junior she is chapter president.
Now Attaya manages BC’s entire e-board and coordinates events, meetings, and projects. Her job also includes having bi-weekly video conference calls with the club’s chapter support mentor, a former chapter president who now works at the national office, to talk about how their chapter is going and what needs improvement. BC’s chapter is one of many under the umbrella of Nourish International, a nonprofit that gives students the opportunity to work on projects and help people around the globe.
Nourish International’s three main focuses are student leadership, project, and ventures. Through student leadership, it aims to empower students on a college level to have a direct impact on ending poverty. The project focus deals with outreach, increased awareness, and the hands-on approach to determining what the community they will be working with needs. They determine the direction of the project by asking the community what is needed and shaping their project to what is required.
“Sometimes we have an idea and think it would work really well, but then it’s not what the community is looking for,” Attaya said.
For three years, the BC chapter of Nourish International has been working with the Center for Multidisciplinary Training and Advising Bolivia, which promotes entrepreneurship within the Bolivian community. The program is run by an engineer who now builds bicycle-powered machines to produce soap, ice cream, and other products. The community then uses these machines to make and sell its products, which also helps its members develop business and sales skills that will benefit them in the future.
It also benefits the community by providing soap to Cochabamba, the third most polluted city in Bolivia. They hold many sanitary awareness workshops along with summer sessions to work on improving education and promoting a sense of entrepreneurship in the community. By encouraging people to make their own products, they help them to work their way out out of poverty through innovation.
Each chapter within Nourish International focuses on a different project for two years. After that, the chapters have an opportunity to either renew their contracts or choose a new project. BC’s Nourish International is on its third year of working with Bolivia after choosing to renew its contract last year. Last summer, interns from the program traveled to Bolivia in order to implement their project with the money they had raised.
“We have a good relationship with the project in Bolivia … so I think that we would probably continue to stay,” Attaya said.
Through ventures, the club focuses on combating extreme poverty through social entrepreneurship and leadership. The proceeds from its on-campus sustainable business, BC Cupcakes, fund its project. Throughout the year, BC Cupcakes has specific events, including its two-week Valentine’s Day Cupcake Gram Sale.
“We would love to have it go all year round, but it’s a little difficult baking-wise, so with the Valentine’s Day cupcakes we are having two weeks of orders and then the group is going to bake the cupcakes and all the proceeds will go to our project,” Attaya said.
Ordering Jumbo cupcakes for your sweetheart, roommate, or even the cute TA from your French class is as easy as logging onto Nourish International’s BC Cupcake Grams Facebook page. Who knew helping to fight poverty could be such a sweet deal?
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor