Meet A LIFTer: Avnee Patel

By LIFT on October 15, 2014

Categories: First Person Perspective, Real Stories

One thing that stands out about LIFT, without question, is our diversity, which happens to be one of our core values.

In my time at LIFT, I have been able to meet Advocates and staff from so many backgrounds with varying experiences,and possessing different skills that meeting someone for the first time almost always turns into an opportunity to learn something new. And what can be more diverse than a LIFTer who was born in London and grew up in Lusaka, Zambia with roots in India?

Meet Avnee Patel.

Avnee came to LIFT-DC after recently graduating from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s in Bio-Behavioral Health, and moving straight to DC. S0 far her experience in DC has been good. “I’m drawn to the diversity and the polite nature of the people in the metro area,” Avnee says.

For the past five months at LIFT-DC, she worked at the front desk as a shift manager where she essentially served as the face and voice of LIFT-DC for the numerous community members that come into the office. During this time, she has been able to develop the kind of relationships that we value here at LIFT. One thing that stands out about Avnee’s presence is the personal connections she easily forms with people she meets. When Members are waiting for their meetings, or come in during walk-ins and Advocates aren’t available, she tries to find ways to help them. Whether they need to print documents, look up information, or just a simple conversation, she does what she can so that their LIFT experience can be as positive and productive as possible. This has easily made her a favorite among many Members. When a Member learned she was new to DC, he recommended she visit the Union Market. “Every time [the member] came in for meetings,” she says laughing, “He’d ask me, have you been to the market yet?” Sometimes, she discovers a shared interest with a Member. For example, she discussed art with one Member, and zoo animals with another. There is no doubt that the relationships Avnee developed have been meaningful. One Member even wanted to pray for her right there in office when she learned that it was Avnee’s final week as the shift manager at LIFT-DC.

Avnee has also been able to appreciate the real struggles that LIFT Members grapple with while living in poverty. One of the most memorable moments for her was running into a homeless LIFT Member one day standing at a corner. She was shocked yet vividly reminded of the real issues that Members face in their day-to day lives.

Even though her term has ended, she knows she’ll be back in the nonprofit sector eventually. Right now, she is interning at the Center for International Development.

“Being at LIFT-DC and getting to know our community members,” Avnee explains, “has taught me that there are so many different ways to help people.” This experience has strengthened her dream of going back to Zambia to open an orphanage one day  — after she first attains a Master’s in Public Health.

“Meanwhile, as long as I am in DC,” she added, “I’ll be checking in with the LIFT friends I’ve made.”