End of an internship with Healthy Waltham

Having worked with Healthy Waltham closely for the past few months, I have come to appreciate the complexity and effort that goes into nonprofits. Organizations like Healthy Waltham rely on a vast variety of people to promote healthy eating and living. It takes all kinds of people within the organization to push an idea, and community members are equally, if not more, important in creating change. It’s a team effort in which everyone invests. When the community members are engaged and interested, it works.

HW logo

But not everything works out all the time. You just have to make the best of it. A large part of my internship was supposed to be teaching a healthy cooking class, but the class ended up being canceled. The kids preferred other activities. I felt really disappointed in myself for not creating a class the students wanted to keep.

I could have seriously increased my fun-time with fewer obligations at the internship, but I focused my attention on programming and administrative projects instead. For example, reporting methods for events and programs was fragmented since HW gained 501c3 status, so I created an online survey. Moving forward, we should be able to see information like where and how most of our time is spent. That information will help answer questions raised at a strategic planning meeting about how HW is growing and how it should focus.


Now that I have learned a bit about community health from one nonprofit’s perspective, I want to learn how research is applied to public health. Although I wish to pursue a research and medical career, I want to remain involved in public health. The most important improvements in the population’s health has been through public health initiatives rather than scientific discoveries (see “Medical measures and the decline of mortality” by John B. McKinlay and Sonja M. McKinlay). The next step would be something in translational medicine or research! It has always sounded exciting, but how to get my foot in the door…?

Even though my internship is over, I am now a real employee. If someone wants to be involved with Healthy Waltham or a similar health organization, just reach out! Take the initiative to start the conversation and show them you are interested. You will likely need several emails, phone calls, meetings, or a combination; but if you are dedicated and passionate, you will find someone who could give you the chance. You never know where you will end up.


– Yuki Wiland ’15

A little past halfway at HW

For almost two months, I have been interning at Healthy Waltham (HW) promoting healthy eating and learning how nonprofits work. At the onset, my role was mainly teaching children about nutrition and how to cook healthy food; however, most of my time thus far has focused on the inner workings of nonprofit organizations.

My first business card! Feeling official with Healthy Waltham.
My first business card! Feeling official with Healthy Waltham.

Aside from cooking, I wanted to learn more about the community side of public health, nonprofits, and what my own interests are in these areas. I never knew how planning, organizing, or funding worked for nonprofits before this internship. Every organization is different, but just learning one arrangement provides some background for understanding other types. At a Strategic Planning meeting with HW’s board members and staff, I saw how many disciplines come together to not only run HW, but numerous other health-related organizations. There were people from the city counsel, a school principal, and a registered nurse just to name a few of the people involved. Even more surprising to me, many board members and staff present belong to other health-focused groups.

I never imagined how much effort is needed to persuade the public to eat their greens.

I am happy to have learned so much about nonprofits, but so far I am most satisfied with the recent tabling event the Waltham Farmer’s Market. The cooking and nutrition class at the Chill Zone is more challenging than I remember. Frankly, my first class was disheartening. After a couple of those classes, I was anxious about the tabling event. Talking to people, friends or strangers, is difficult to me. Encouraging others to eat healthy foods has proven to be extra challenging. Plus, my mentor Chef Reva would not be there. All of these factors together left me worried and restless about the simple act of tabling.

Luckily, the event turned out better than expected. We gave free samples of Moroccan chard salad topped with roasted chickpeas. Not only were all samples and English recipe cards distributed, but almost everyone said they enjoyed the salad! Speaking with others went smoothly, and help from the other interns and staff made the day really enjoyable. I cannot wait to analyze the data to see if chard sales changed or if the HW website received more traffic after the farmer’s market.


L to R: Abbie, Manny, Yuki. Intern teamwork giving away free samples of Moroccan swiss chard salad with roasted chickpeas at Waltham Farmer’s Market. Photo by Maria DiMaggio

The most valuable skill I am developing here is group communication. Everyone says that communication skills are important, but I am now a believer. Knowing how to present ideas and instructions while keeping people engaged is necessary to accomplish any task. Group work with coworkers, some of whom work from various locations, adds a new challenge to traditional group dynamics.

The web of public health becomes clearer as I continue observing and working on various projects. I am unsure where I fit in the realm of public health, but I am looking forward to the rest of my time with HW. There is still much to do, and even more learn.


– Yuki Wiland ’15

Week One at Healthy Waltham: What I’m Doing and How


At Healthy Waltham, everyone is passionate about eating healthy, delicious food, and helping others live well. The staff and my fellow intern are inviting, enthusiastic, and a bit on the “crunchy” side– which for me is perfect. Already, the amount of work that goes into a community organization surprises me, and it is only my first week!

Healthy Waltham is a 501 C nonprofit organization that aims to promote healthy living in the Waltham community. It originally started as a coalition to organize various existing health-orientated groups; now Healthy Waltham has several of its own projects aimed at health promotion and childhood obesity prevention. Learning Gardens with local schools and housing developments, cooking classes, and the recent River Fest are just some of the activities in which Healthy Waltham is involved. Brandeis students often intern or volunteer with Healthy Waltham, such as the Veggie Buddies club through Waltham Group.

My role as an intern at Healthy Waltham mainly revolves around recipe development, nutrition, and teaching healthy cooking to kids, teens, and adults. During the Fall 2013 semester, I volunteered with Healthy Waltham and the Chill Zone to teach middle school students how to make healthy snacks. The internship is basically a continuation and expansion of my volunteer role. Another major goal of my internship is to make the cooking classes sustainable with future interns.

In addition to the cooking classes, I am helping with internship development, grant writing, and communications as well.  After becoming more familiar with the needs and specific goals of Healthy Waltham, hopefully I can contribute fresh ideas that will help the group move forwards.

How did you get involved with Healthy Waltham, you ask? Last summer, I met Judy Fallows at a farmer’s market. After talking for a while, she mentioned that she had been looking for someone to give cooking lessons at the Chill Zone for years. The classes started the following fall and Judy was so pleased with the program that she suggested the World of Work (WOW) fellowship for when I returned from abroad. I wanted to learn more about the community side of health care and to make the cooking class sustainable, so I accepted her offer.

The first week went well and I had more fun than I expected! The people at Healthy Waltham become more inspiring as I learn more about them because they are all so passionate and have done amazing things. From helping Reva Haselkorn, the chef instructor, with her cooking class at Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center, I learned so much about how to teach others that I wish I knew in the fall! Another highlight of the week was taking the ServSafe certification course so I can handle food with the public more safely.


During the rest of the summer, I hope to learn how to encourage others to make long-term changes to their lifestyle and to learn how to earn a grant. No matter what I do in the future, I want to help people improve their health on their own. Since I am considering research as a career, knowing how to win a grant may be necessary. Although I expect to learn about certain things, the most valuable lessons I learn during this internship will come unexpected.

– Yuki Wiland, ’15