The “Community Advocate” Program was created in 2018 as an effort to involve more community members in the WCFN's work. We provide stipends to individuals who would not normally have the luxury of volunteering their time due to hectic work schedules, family and income needs. In exchange for this stipend, each Community Advocate devotes 10 hours a month towards bettering our local food system.
Community Advocates serve as the line of communication between the WCFN and the community. They bring their issues to the WCFN table, where we work as a team to address them, and in return they inform their neighbors about WCFN projects, resources and initiatives.
The goals of the Community Advocate Program are to:
-- Expand Community Voice, both by supporting more community members to participate in WCFN projects and decision-making, and, in turn, supporting them to survey and engage their own neighbors and networks.
-- Empower Local Leaders, by supporting advocates to envision and develop projects that will promote food justice in their community.
Meet The Team
I recently took up residence, with my wife, Vicki, in Willimantic after a more than 45 year absence. Vicki and I are both UCONN alumni, class of '76. I am newly retired, and in Windham I’ve found a church-community home with The Salvation Army as both a member and social services volunteer. I’ve been adopted by the Windham Community Food Network as a neighborhood spokesman and advocate for food justice.
I was born and raised here in Connecticut except for a couple of years in Vermont and Kentucky. I was an accounting clerk for about twenty years with short stints in retail and fast food. One thing that became clear to me in all of these jobs was the amount of good product that was being wasted. My partner was a volunteer for the Community Suppers Ministry at First Baptist Church of Willimantic. I started volunteering with her there doing about six to eight meals a month before covid hit. I joined the Windham Community Food Network in hopes of helping fresh food reach the people who are in need of it and having less waste from gardens, stores, and even different food pantries that may receive too much of one product while another one is without. Since the Community Table has started my partner Rachel and I deliver food boxes weekly to families and individuals who are unable to make it to the pantries.
I learned about the Food Network my senior year at Eastern Connecticut State University. I was excited to start working with them because it gave me an opportunity to learn more about the Willimantic community and I have been able to help in different ways. I started out by delivering the food boxes weekly to each family. As I completed my last semester, I switched to making the weekly shopping for the food boxes. Working for the Food network shows how everyone plays a little part in making a difference for others . It’s definitely exciting to be able to seasonal fruits/veggies or special pantry items each week .
My name is Melanie Roberts and I reside in Willlimantic. I am a retired neuropsychologist and I love spending time growing vegetables and fruit. I’ve been a CSA for six years and I’m a member of Grow Windham as a local farmer. My experience goes back as a child helping my grandparents and great grandparents harvest their fruits and vegetables. I am passionate about eating healthy as a survivor of cancer. I am eager to learn more and become more active with projects.