Public & School Partnership Highlights Joys of Nonprofit Work
Emmalie Peay offers a tour of the stock-room at Little Lambs of Utah.
The labor shortage is real in Utah, where the unemployment rate is so low, it’s nearly half of what is considered “full employment.” This means many Utah opportunities—human service positions among them—are searching for workers.
So this is a good time to revisit why so many in Utah choose jobs that help other people. To find out more, we sat down with two of the people who keep Little Lambs of Utah running. It is one of several nonprofits offering positions through the Public & School Partnership’s AmeriCorps VISTA program, part of the Institute for Disability Research, Policy & Practice.
PSP partners with schools, nonprofits and community members to build volunteerism, raise funds, write grants and organize service learning projects. PSP workers devote a year to these community organizations by serving in the AmeriCorps VISTA program.
“I worked in childcare before this,” said Emmalie Peay, who came to Little Lambs as a PSP member. “I'm very familiar with diapers and diaper need, but I wasn't prepared for the shock of how big of a need it is. … It was shocking to see how many families in just Logan alone suffer for diaper need.”
Ted Chalfant, who founded Little Lambs with his wife, Stefanee, agreed. “Unfortunately, we live in a world that the families that are in need, that maybe don't have enough diapers to leave their child that day at daycare, they end up having to miss work. And that continues that cycle of poverty. You know, we have families that had reported reusing diapers, shaking them out, drying them, using T shirts as diapers, because they just can't make it.”
But Peay and Chalfant have found some good surprises, too. “We get a lot of donations,” Peay said. “Most everything here has been donated, sometimes by organizations, sometimes just by people in the community. And I didn't realize how great the Logan community was until I started working here, because you meet so many people who are just wanting to help out any way that they can.”
Chalfant enjoys seeing Little Lambs’ impact on families who benefitted from the program. “Seeing a family potty train a child, or be able to get a job that makes it so they don’t need our assistance,” he said, “they see you on the street or at an event and come up and talk to you and the little ones throw their arms around your neck, because you've made that connection with the family. It’s just amazing.”
He also appreciates the support that comes through his doors via PSP. “We were blessed to have Emmalie come on as our diaper bank director through the PSP program. And it has been a godsend, having someone that is so passionate about helping the children that we serve and the families that we serve, and doing case management. She's just been incredible.”
In addition to supplementing the diaper needs of families, Little Lambs provides comfort kits for children transitioning into foster care. “Last year, we've provided over 1400 comfort kits for children in foster care, and also new moms, through a few of the hospitals,” said Stefanee Chalfant. “They just help during their difficult transition into foster care, so they have something of their own to take with them.”
While the work is rewarding, Peay has found practical skills that will help her in the future. “I've never done grant writing before this. And I want to further my education in that, and hopefully, come on full time as a grant writer.”
Peay received the Good Role Model Award in January from PSP.
To work with Little Lambs, or with another awesome Logan nonprofit, visit the PSP website.