Ashley started working at the Damiano Center in 2016. She says Damiano “fills a large gap that we have in our community. It helps families make ends meet when they are going through hard times. And it is also a place the provides dignity when we’re giving services. Given the lack of housing, and right now, the lack of employment, people really need a place where they can go to to count on to get their needs met.”
Ashley is the Children's Program Manager, overseeing both the Kids' Kitchen and the Summer Food Corps programs. She shares the reason she works with the kids and families who visit Damiano: “I love working with kids and helping build happy childhoods. I think positive relationships are so important and critical for children. I love that we create a space that does that while providing access to healthy meals and academic activities.”
When asked how things have changed because of COVID-19, Ashley responds, “I’ve learned how creative nonprofits can be. I’ve learned what immense need there is during this time. I’ve learned how giving volunteers and community members are. And even through we’re facing really extreme circumstances we can still get out incredible amounts of food to people, and come together as a community to make sure everyone has enough to eat and also still maintains their sense of community."
She laughs and adds, "I’ve learned a lot about sanitation too and washing my hands."
If someone were unfamiliar with the Damiano Center, Ashley would want them to know "that it’s a really positive space and that it’s welcoming to everyone…we’re not just feeding people, that we’re helping the whole person and we are building community and positive connections. One of the hardest things about poverty is sometimes the lack of relationships and time that you get to spend with other people. We provide a space where people can feel happy and cared for. And then we provide opportunities for people who are able to give back.”