November 20, 2017

Now, I belong.

By Samantha Cooke
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Growing up in Yukon, Oklahoma, I always felt a little bit out of place.

There was no Jewish community in my small town, and almost everyone was very closed-minded to change. Over the years, I slowly began to feel a desire to create a life where accepting difference and expressing thought were freely and often spoken about. As I grew up, I understood the emotional challenge I faced as a young kid and the impact it had on me. I decided that the mark I wanted to leave on this earth was to somehow give people a voice and be an advocate. That is what fueled my passion and desire to enter the nonprofit world.

After six years in the nonprofit sector, with mostly educational foundations, I decided to embark on a new journey to Los Angeles. Being in a new city seemed like a great opportunity to give the for-profit world a try. But I wasn’t long in that world before I quickly found myself feeling the way I did back in Yukon as one of two Jews at my high school: out of place.  

Starting my work at MAZON, I couldn’t have been more eager to get back to an environment where I could help people. Even better, I would be able to tap into my desire for community and strengthen the connection to my Jewish roots that evaded me during my childhood. 

Upon joining the team, I learned about the struggles of hunger and food insecurity. I was shocked to learn the staggering number of 42 million Americans and 1.5 million Israelis who struggle with hunger every day. I feel strongly about the work I do with MAZON, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be in an organization that allows me to do so much and assume such great responsibility. As an operations assistant, I assist with everything from human resources to state registration to benefits to finance. I also love that I can work on creative projects like updating MAZON’s website, and outreach efforts like our camp program.

Although we are a Jewish organization, what I love most about MAZON is that we work to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds. We harness this awareness by rallying the Jewish community to promote the Jewish values of tzedakah and tikkun olam. MAZON’s targeted focus on anti-hunger advocacy allows our small organization to be a leader in the field, year after year

My colleagues’ passion for justice and change make MAZON an amazing place to work. The way I feel accepted and appreciated while working at MAZON is so refreshing, compared to my small hometown.  Every day I come to work and feel rewarded for who I work with and the impact that we have on others. As I approach my one-year anniversary at MAZON, I know I have grown so much, both personally and professionally, and I look forward to the many years ahead.