A Year of Service With Come to the Table

A reflection from Come to the Table Johnson Service Corps intern, Lydia Gilmer.

This time last year, my first year with the Johnson Service Corps was nearly over. While the rest of my housemates were packing for their next big adventure, I was looking forward to beginning a new year of service at RAFI-USA. Even after a year of service, I felt this chapter of my life was not quite finished yet. There was something still here in North Carolina. Whether it was something I needed to still see, experience, or learn, I was not sure, but it was there and I followed. 

I can now say I found it a year later. As it turns out, that something was all of those things — sights, experiences, and lessons. Many of them came from my work at RAFI-USA with the Come to the Table Program. Through site visits and regional gatherings, I saw more of North Carolina in a few months than I did in the entirety of the previous year. From Pittsboro to Greenville to Mills River, from farm land to rivers to mountains, I saw the beauty of this state. I listened to farmers and faith leaders share their stories. Each conversation taught me more about the injustices that exist in our food system, and exposed me to the work being done to address these issues with purpose and hope. 

These trips across North Carolina were a highlight of my time with CTTT, but in truth, most of my time was spent in front of a computer doing remote work. Yet even from my desk at home and in front of the screen, I continued to learn more. 

CTTT offered many opportunities to me throughout the year. I dabbled in blog writing, video camera assembly, conference planning, interviewing, and so much more. In all this variety I learned about the types of work I enjoy. Most surprising, I found that I loved working on data behind the scenes. I would queue up my favorite music and get to work on the task. The seemingly endless lists of names and churches might not seem like the most exciting thing, but I quickly came to realize there was more in it. Each of those lines represents a real person, a farmer RAFI has assisted, or a faith leader who attended a CTTT event. Suddenly, that long list of churches and farmers means a lot more than just a collection of letters on a screen. 

As my time with CTTT comes to an end, there are a lot of emotions, all wonderful and bittersweet. I will miss everyone on the team who were all sources of joy and wisdom for me throughout the year. I also feel deeply grateful. Throughout the year, I feel like I’ve grown more into myself and learned the type of work I thrive in. While I am leaving, I do so feeling confident and prepared for what comes next. I wish all the best and give my deepest thanks to RAFI and CTTT for a spectacular year. 

Lydia concluded her internship with Come to the Table in July, and is now back home in Birmingham, Alabama, working remotely for CBS Northstar as an Implementation Technician. 

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