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Member Spotlight: Lauren Intinarelli

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Each month, we invite DBC members with a connection to our theme to share their personal experiences with us. Interested in sharing your story with the DBC community? Email us at diversebooksclub@gmail.com.


 

DBC Member Spotlight

Lauren Intinarelli

@lgintinarelli

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Please introduce yourself to the DBC members.

My name is Lauren Intinarelli and I’m married with an almost 3-year old daughter. For nearly 15 years I have worked in finance and banking in some capacity. While that has always scratched my nerdy itch, one of my true passions is cooking. As my daughter has gotten older, it’s been such a joy to share those moments with her in the kitchen making cookies or having her help with dinner.

My other passion is volunteering and board service. I am fortunate to serve on a couple boards and have served on boards for various non-profits in the past. I’m thankful I am able to lend my skillset to these organizations and contribute in some small way towards the achievement of their missions.

When I am able to get some free quiet time (challenging with a toddler!) I love to curl up with a good book, a hot drink, and hope to hear it raining outside. My idea of a perfect relaxing day.

Why is this month’s topic, poverty, near and dear to your heart?

As a young kid, I knew folks who would be considered to be living in poverty. It was evident, even that young, the struggles people went through just to live a normal life. Many worked several jobs, were on government assistance (that helped some but wasn’t the entire solution), some struggled with addiction, and all of them struggled with how to break that cycle and better their situation. It had a deep impact on me as a child and left me wanting to help where I could. This resulted in my being engaged as an adult in the non-profit community. Many non-profits’ missions are aimed at helping individuals better their situations and support them as they try and change their circumstances.

I’m fortunate to serve as the Chair of the Board for the Chester County Food Bank. When working with food banks you get to see the impact of poverty first hand. We can take for granted the access most of us have to real healthy foods. For some, the cost is too high and as a result of poverty issues, families are forced to eat meals that are not nutritious and may not support proper health. Further, some are forced to make the decision to either pay the light bill or eat. That is a choice many of us don’t have to face day in and day out.

Now that I am older and have a daughter, I think about how I would feel as a parent struggling with poverty issues and the impact on my daughter. I would want an opportunity to feed my family and feed them with wholesome and nutritious foods to support their development. I personally feel passionately about bringing healthy real foods to those who might not have access.

Have you read our April selections, Salvage the Bones and Crenshaw?  What did you think?

I unfortunately haven’t had the opportunity to read the selections. I have them added to my book list and hope to get to them soon as they looked really interesting.

Do you find there is a stigma around those living in poverty in our culture?  How has this impacted your experience?

I’m certainly no expert in this area but my gut tells me this is true. Call me old, but I do feel as though the advent of social media has made issues more polarized than when I was a kid. It feels like disparity between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is more evident as a result. I think this results in stigmas being attached to those who are less fortunate and living in poverty. Misconceptions about folks being lazy and not working or milking the government systems are often stigmas I hear. The work at the food bank has changed my perception regarding those who utilize the services available. Sometimes its folks who get laid off their jobs and have five kids they have to feed. They have to use their savings to pay the bills and stay afloat but have a hard time feeding their families. These are the situations we may not necessarily think about. Often I hear people talk about poverty as if it’s solely the result of poor choices and irresponsibility. I don’t believe that’s the whole story at all and working with the food bank has really opened my eyes to the different circumstances surrounding those in poverty.

 Are there any additional resources (books, articles, podcasts) about poverty that you would recommend to our readers?

About a month ago, we hosted a kid’s event at the food bank. Part of the event was the reading of a book called Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt. It’s a kid’s book that tells the story of two young girls, one of whom has a full fridge and the other has an empty fridge at home. The girl with plenty of food decides to help her friend and share what’s in her bountiful fridge. I liked this book because of how it described these two girls’ situations and the desire of one to help the other.

Is there anything else you’d like our members to know?

I’m an advocate of getting involved in the community. Whether it be donating, volunteering, or joining a board of an organization you are passionate about- get involved. My experience has been that when people are engaged in their communities and know their neighbors, helping those who need it comes more naturally and sometimes it does take a village!