#TPBTH Meet: SYDNEY SINGHASS
How did you get started?
I’m drawn to meet people’s needs and to work to make systems fair and accessible for everyone. I have a background in health and am passionate about people having access to the appropriate health care and basic needs in order to be healthy. Food and nutrition are huge basic needs that can be hard to meet in the low-income population, which can directly relate to health issues. I kind of fell into my job at the Lowcountry Food Bank, not realizing it was something I’d truly love. I get to interact with people facing food insecurity and hunger on a daily basis. I get to work with food pantries and various nonprofits all over Charleston. It’s awesome to be a part of the nonprofit world and see these organizations work together.
Poverty and food insecurity are huge obstacles in Charleston, and I believe our community can see change if we join forces. Which is what lead to my “side project” called Charleston Table. My co-worker/BFF/partner-in-crime, Sarah, and I realized how easy it is to not interact with hunger and poverty in Charleston or even the nonprofits here if you’re not working in this field. We recognize that it will take the community to work together to help solve these issues. We see a need for educating people and connecting them with organizations who are working to address these needs. So, we created Charleston Table as a place to bring people from all walks of life together to discuss these issues and to hear from guest speakers who are working with various nonprofit organizations. We figured we’d bring people together the best way we know how—by hosting a meal!
What or who influenced you the most as you were developing your project?
Other than my job in a hunger relief organization, Sarah has been a huge influence. I’ve grown in what I’m truly passionate about while we’ve been friends and have worked together. I feel like I can be bad at articulating things, so there are so many times when she says something and I’m like “Yes! That’s exactly how I feel!” She also had the privilege to work with an awesome project in Nashville, which is what gave us the basis of what Charleston Table would look like. So I definitely couldn’t have done this without her. We make a good team.
Why do you love your job?
I love hearing peoples’ stories and interacting with all walks of life. I love being able to tangibly meet a basic need with food assistance, but the best part is just being there to hear what someone is going through. Sometimes what people need the most is someone to be there to listen to them.
What inspires you?
This might sound weird, but seeing injustices in our society. For example, people not having access to nutritious food because a grocery store is too far away or because they just can’t afford it. Or a single mother having to choose between taking care of her kids and working, since childcare would take up most of her paycheck. Or someone living on the streets with no income and no access to the health care they may need in order to get off the streets. These situations drive me to make sure these people don’t go unnoticed and to work to advocate for these people. I hope in the end, the less this goes unnoticed the less it will happen. Which is one of the driving forces behind Charleston Table—to increase awareness about injustices and to create advocates in the community.
5 words that describe who you are:
dreamer, passionate, enthusiastic, encourager, planner
When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
Everything. From a ballet teacher (I had a really cool ballet teacher when I was in preschool) to an architect. Oh, I went through an archeologist phase too.
Travel the US to photograph people living in poverty as a way to hear their story and to share it with others. Maybe even use it to implement change. Kind of like the documentary “A Place at the Table”, but with portraits.
3 things you aspire to be or do:
1. Get a Masters in Public Health
2. Live in cool cities around the US (but most likely sticking around the Southeast)
3. Work for a national public health or nonprofit organization like the CDC or Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)
(Fill in the blank) I appreciate _______ in my life, because_______.
I appreciate community in my life, because it would suck doing life alone.
What was one of the hardest lessons or toughest obstacles you had to overcome?
Well, this is a lesson I’m continually learning: that I can’t fix everything. Sometimes I overwhelm myself because I want to help everyone or fix everything. And clearly that’s not possible. But overall, it’s hard for me to learn to tackle things one small step at a time.
Advice for someone who is looking to begin a new hobby/job/life pursuit:
Don’t care about what other people think or expect of you. Don’t worry about your future or having it all figured out all at once. Both will stunt your growth and your ability to pursue your passions. Unfortunately, I’m speaking from experience. Don’t think twice about going after what you’re passionate about.
Something your followers would be surprised to learn about you:
I get anxious when I’m in a setting with people I don’t know. But I also much rather be around people than being alone…so it doesn’t really make sense.
Mac and cheese and don’t you forget it.
Anything coffee/beer/bourbon…yeah, I can’t pick one.
Montana by Youth Lagoon
“And now after some thinking, I’d say id rather be a functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.” from Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes
List of sites:
Facebook: Charleston Table
Instagram: @charlestontable, @sydsquid77
You can check out lowcountryfoodbank.org too!
1. Charleston Table meal hosting Anthony Haro from the Lowcountry Homeless Coalition.
2. A “Fresh For All”, which is a farmers market style produce distribution in areas that are deemed food desserts or have a high need of nutritious food. This is a program of the Lowcountry Food Bank.
3. The Charleston Table team: Sydney Singhass and Sarah Pinson