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Finding Philanthropy, Service and Community All in One

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This story comes to us from Challah for Hunger, a not-for profit organization with 73 active chapters around the world, mostly based on university campuses, that bakes and sells challah bread and uses the proceeds to support social justice causes.

Rachel and Santana recently served as committee members for Challah for Hunger's January west coast leadership summit. Both Rachel and Santana serve as Co-Directors of the Stanford Challah for Hunger chapter. They reflect on their involvement in Challah, leadership and philanthropy below.

Rachel Waltman

Rachel hails from Tenafly, New Jersey and is presently a senior at Stanford University. While at Stanford, Rachel has been involved in a number of service and leadership activities, including the Stanford chapter of Challah for Hunger. She has also served on the board of Sunday Friends as a Stanford Nonprofit Board Fellow, the Bing Overseas Studies Program Faculty Oversight Committee and the Stanford Judicial Panel Pool. Rachel will be embarking on a new adventure in Madrid, Spain as a Fulbright Scholar. 

Santana Shorty

Originally from rural, Northern New Mexico, Santana is a senior at Stanford University studying Human Biology with a concentration on Health and Health Policy. Santana’s time at Stanford has been largely characterized by her commitment to public service. She is a Theme Associate in Branner Hall, Stanford’s public service themed dormitory and Co-Director of the Stanford Challah for Hunger Chapter. After Stanford, she intends to work on the intersection of her two passions, health and public service.

1. What inspired you to become involved with Challah for Hunger?

SS: Upon arriving at Stanford, I realized the opportunities for student group involvement are immense and somewhat overwhelming. As an underclassman, I knew I wanted to join a public service group committed to a cause that resonated with me personally. Stanford Challah for Hunger fulfilled this need in its entirety. I saw that Challah for Hunger had the public service mission and guiding student action to accomplish measurable progress; attributes that made it especially appealing to me.

More specifically, when I attended bakes, I witnessed the pure relief and benefit students of all faiths and backgrounds gained from the baking experience. These moments, these nuggets of pristine enjoyment shared by a community through the action of baking bread fueled me to find a way to become a more permanent part of the organization.

RW: Challah for Hunger was the first group I joined as a student at Stanford my freshmen year. I have never been particularly religious, but grew up in a predominantly Jewish area and missed that community when I moved to California. Challah for Hunger at Stanford served as the perfect antidote.

It is an incredibly warm and welcoming community that allowed me to stay in touch with my Jewish culture, while at the same time committing to an important cause that resonated with me personally. It allowed me to meet students of different faiths and backgrounds from all corners of campus -- students I would not have otherwise met and students I am better for knowing. And, of course, I also just love bread. Have you tried it? It’s delicious.

2. How did your leadership grow over time?

SS: My sophomore year I was a regular volunteer at the Challah for Hunger bakes. Junior year, I joined the manager team as the Financial Manager, and now, my senior year, I serve as the Co-Director with the lovely Rachel Waltman. Challah for Hunger has served as the training ground for honing my leadership and management skills. The varied, exciting challenges in Challah for Hunger fostered the continued vitality of my experience, and encouraged me to stay committed these past three years.

RW: I have been fortunate enough to serve a variety of different roles during my time with Challah for Hunger. After my freshman year as a volunteer, I served as the Financial Officer during my sophomore year, as the Volunteer Manager my junior year, and presently, as the Co-Director with my better half: Santana Shorty. Through these various leadership positions, I have truly come to hone my leadership skills. I have become a clearer communicator, a more efficient delegator, and, ultimately, a more approachable director. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities Challah for Hunger has provided me to grow as both a leader and as a person.

3. How does Challah for Hunger compliment your own views on philanthropy?

Challah for Hunger speaks to our belief in engaged, community-based philanthropy. The investment of students’ time and committed action to a group cause brings a forceful dimension to the Challah for Hunger philanthropy experience. While many other chapters of Challah for Hunger bake about 30 loaves per week, Stanford’s output has reached around 200 or more per week. The growing demand for challah mirrors a growing desire to bake and to do good.

Another element of Challah for Hunger at Stanford which compliments our view of philanthropy is its ability to bring together a diverse student volunteer group committed to the same, shared cause. We firmly believe that the Stanford chapter’s philanthropic success is primarily attributable to its partnerships with various student groups, ranging in nature from cultural centers to the Equestrian Team to Camp Kesem. Our philanthropic approach has thus manifested in a two-pronged result: Stanford interfaith community building and charity fundraising.  

The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.