In life, sometimes you find your passion. At other times, that passion finds you.
That's what happened to Peter Champelli, a sophomore at Ithaca College in New York, when he began doing volunteer work for New Roots as a student at Dupont Manual High School.
“My friend Amanda Tu was the first person who introduced me to New Roots, and she was a formal intern,” he said. “From there, I got to know Karyn (Moskowitz) pretty well. In 2014 as a sophomore, I started filming promotional and documentary work for them, which the primary purpose was promoting the Fresh Stop Markets. My biggest project that started my work with them was a video in November 2014 documenting their Veggie Rx Project that ended up raising (money) for the organization.”
Champelli said when he first became involved with New Roots, he didn’t know much about food equality and justice issues.
"As soon as I was introduced to Karyn and the team and started attending events, I realized it was something I was passionate about,” he said. “It was something I could use my personal skills and passions to give back in a way that I couldn’t with other things.”
He continued his video and documentary work through his junior and senior year, providing New Roots with video content they could share with potential donors and the community, offering a better idea of the different initiatives being offered.
“I filmed an event where they were leading workshops (Veggie Rx) with children to teach them about healthy eating and fitness,” Champelli said. “There was also an interview series with attendees. The last project I did was a New Roots sponsored event called a Food Summit at Bellarmine University.”
As has been the case for others over the years, becoming involved with New Roots led to doors being opened for Champelli. Searching for a college, he stumbled across what turned out to be his dream school, Ithaca, a private school whose tuition might have been out of reach for him if not for his New Roots background.
"New Roots helped provide a path for Champelli."
“Ithaca offers the Park Scholarship to a minimum of 10 high school seniors every year, for students who show a passion for communications and community service,” he said. “It was a combination of the community service I showed through my work with New Roots, and the communication skills, like video production that I’ve been developing, which also helped me in that area. I can thank New Roots on both accounts for helping me get that scholarship.”
The scholarship requires students to continue their community service at Ithaca, and again, New Roots helped provide a path for Champelli.
"I was the graphic design coordinator for an organization called Food for Thought, and they deal with food justice and food issues around the world,” he said. “I did all of the graphic design work for their promotion of an event called, the Walk for Plumpy’Nut, which was a 5K walk for fundraising to send money to doctors who are developing a substance that is similar to peanut butter called Plumpy’Nut. It’s doctor’s preferred substance for treating malnutrition cases.”
Champelli is studying emerging media, which is a combination of video production, media studies, and computer science, skills he hopes to continue to use to help other people.
“Not only was New Roots a great place for me to use my skills in video production and to give back in a way that I cared about, but it also gave me a lot of information and passion to continue working in food justice.”