Ariel Gutman-Gates, a junior at the State University of New York at Oswego, is a committed student leader to issues of mental health, female empowerment, and food security. Ariel inspires his fellow students to become engaged in the community and is a staunch advocate for those who struggle with hunger. For the past two years, he has worked closely with campus and community partners to grow an on campus food pantry that serves all students, staff, and faculty who self-identify as food insecure. A relationship builder at heart, Ariel connects with community partners to expand the pantry's ability to serve not just the campus, but the local community through food drives, Thanksgiving baskets, and clothing and toiletry giveaways. Ariel's passion for serving others and tackling social problems is evident in his work and the ways he leads his peers.
During my freshman orientation, my orientation leaders asked me what my favorite hobby was. I replied, "helping people." Over my time at SUNY Oswego, this desire to help others has only grown. My proudest work on campus has come from being the Student Coordinator for the campus food and clothing pantry, S.H.O.P. (Students Helping Oz Peers.) Myself and my team of 115 student volunteers work diligently to combat food insecurity in our community. I have signed off on more than 250 community service hours this past semester. This work provides free food and other essential goods to those in need.
The proudest moment of my life came this past semester. I coordinated an event that handed out Thanksgiving baskets to students and members of the Oswego community who might not have access to food over the holiday. During the craziness of handing out food, a single mother and fellow student pulled me aside to thank me. She said that if it was not for this event she would not have been able to have a Thanksgiving meal. This experience embodies not only my personal goal working at S.H.O.P., but is also the product of hours worked by the volunteers.