Six questions with our new Executive Director, Al Obayuwana

An excerpt from Local Matters’ monthly Mission Moments newsletter

What’s one word you would use to describe your first month at Local Matters? 

AO: There are many words that come to mind but I am going to choose rewarding. It has been wonderful to return to mission-driven work and learn about the transformational impact happening during Local Matters’ programming. Being surrounded by a team of staff and volunteers that truly care about this mission is both inspiring and engaging. 

What has been the most surprising aspect of your job, thus far? 

AO: Learning and hearing from community leaders/members about just how big the food insecurity gap is for a lot of our neighbors in Franklin County and surrounding counties. As we go into summer, I think about all the children. On the positive side though, it has been a pleasant surprise to learn and connect with so many community members and likeminded organizations that are addressing needs and creatively collaborating to serve. 

What is something that you want people to know about you? 

AO: I am a big kid at heart:) I enjoy playing chess and love a good family game night! My post-COVID favorite sports to play are pickle ball and disc golf.

How do you recommend people get involved with Local Matters whether it be for the first time or as a recurring partner/volunteer?
AO: There are a lot of ways for people to get involved with our work. Here are a few starting places: 

  • Reach out to share an idea or have a conversation, whether it be about a need/gap or your interests in food access, education, and advocacy work. I would like to hear from you. 
  • Sign up for a hands-on cooking class with family, friends, and neighbors
  • Make a visit to the Veggie Van for fresh and affordable produce. By buying from the Veggie Van, you support the free delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables to our neighbors in need. 
  • Check out our brand new website: You’ll find over 100 volunteer opportunities to get involved at various levels and time commitments 

Whether you’re interested in filling a volunteer slot or making a contribution towards critical food work, we would love to hear from you! Click here to send me an email so we can connect directly. 

How do you envision Local Matters evolving in the next year? 

AO: Well, considering I am in my fifth week at Local Matters, there is a lot of listening and learning to still do but I know we will be collaborative and strategic. We are primed for growth but it is important it happens in a sustainable, holistic way.

Anything else to share?

AO: Not really. I am just excited and humbled to serve alongside others in this space. No one can do everything but everyone can do something! Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, “There is no deficit in human resources. The deficit is in human will.”

Volunteers are a critical component of our day-to-day work at Local Matters, and we’d love your help filling some of our future opportunities, whether that be through kitchen prep, a food rescue, garden maintenance, or assisting at cooking classes and Veggie Van markets. 

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