Jayda Bell and Key'Nesha Powell at the Urban Garden July 2. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News
Jayda Bell and Key'Nesha Powell at the Urban Garden July 2. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Interns help Golden Harvest’s mission

An aspiring lawmaker and the assistant executive director of a non-profit are part of Bank of America’s Student Leaders program this summer.

Key’Nesha Powell, a Butler High School 2024 graduate, and Jayda Bell, a A.R. Johnson Health Sciences and Engineering Magnet School 2024 graduate, were selected for the paid internship program that places them at Golden Harvest Food Bank for several weeks.

Key’Nesha Powell joins in the water fight at Sprouts Scouts on July 2. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

“Whatever they are interested in, we try to gear their experience with us toward that,” said Abby Muehlfeld, Golden Harvest’s vice president of marketing.

Although it isn’t until October, the It’s Spooky to Be Hungry campaign is one of the initiatives Powell and Bell have helped with, talking with people in neighborhoods as well as apartment complexes about organizing their local efforts for the fall food drive.

They’ve helped on the administrative side analyzing data; they’ve visited rural food pantries. Each week, they are involved in a different area of the food bank’s mission. Muehlfeld said advocacy and community impact are important to the young women and they each have a special project they are working on this summer.

Powell’s focus is aimed at three rural counties within the 25-county service area to find ways to get food to those in need. Larger counties such as Richmond, Columbia and Aiken counties have multiple food pantries, but some rural counties may only have one.

Bell’s initiative is related to the Sprouts Scouts, a weekly program at the Master’s Table Urban Farm, where children between the ages of 6 and 14 and their families become urban farmers for a day while helping the soup kitchen.

The camp is a learning experience with fun mixed in. On July 2, campers learned about pollinators and cooled down on the sweltering day with a water fight.

Through the comments and feedback from participants, Bell has been evaluating the program and will provide a report to food bank officials after the last session.

The two interns will be at the food bank for a couple of more weeks, then they will go to Washington, D.C. during the last week of July to culminate the experience with a week-long, all expenses paid, national leadership summit to learn how nonprofits, governments and businesses collaborate to meet local needs, according to a news release.

 And it probably won’t be the last time one of the participants heads to Washington.

Powell first dreamed of entering the political arena when she was only in fourth grade.

“It was an election year, and I remember being so pumped that a woman was running for president,” said Powell who saw the possibilities in 2016.

Ora Parish, Marissa Smith, Key’Nesha Powell, Jayda Bell and Nathan Folks. Supplied photo.

Although Hillary Clinton lost that election, it had already opened a door in Powell’s mind that could not be closed.

In eighth grade, she learned more about American government and saw that she didn’t have to be president to make a difference. Powell said she wants to speak up for those who have no voice or those who are afraid to say the hard things.

“I realized I had no trouble being the person to say them,” said Powell, who plans to attend Claflin University in the fall and double major in criminal justice and political science

She hopes to graduate in three years and pursue her law degree.

At Butler, she served as president of her Future Business Leaders of America chapter. She graduated from the Youth Leadership Class of 2023 and served as the liaison between her school and both the Superintendent’s Advisory Council and the Principal’s Advisory Council.

The salutatorian of her class, Bell served as the assistant executive director of the Leadership Genesis project.

“Our main focus is youth mental health. We want to help them find a purpose,” she said.

The program is undergoing a restructuring and an app is being developed to link students and their interests with internship opportunities.

Bell plans to attend Emory University and major in sociology.  At Johnson, she served as the vice president of the National Honor Society and was a Key Club class representative. Also, she was the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Rosa T. Beard Debutante Club.

“I’m always really impressed by the caliber of students who are with us,” said Muehlfeld.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Student Leaders program.

  “The Student Leaders program recognizes 300 community-focused juniors and seniors from across the U.S. annually. Since 2004, Student Leaders has engaged more than 4,500 students and invested $42 million in more than 500 local nonprofits as a critical part of the bank’s long-standing effort to build pathways to economic mobility across nearly 100 markets,” according to a news release.

“Preparing a diverse pipeline of community-minded young students to be successful in the workforce is critical to market’s long-term economic growth” said Ora Parish, president, Bank of America Augusta-Aiken in the release. “The exceptional teens selected for the Student Leaders program will not only gain practical work and life experience, but the community in return gains help from local nonprofits and a diverse pipeline of talent as these young adults enter the local workforce.”    


Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News and Inspiring: Women of Augusta, has covered Augusta’s news for more than 35 years and is a Georgia Press Association award winner. Reach her at charmain@augustagoodnews.com. Sign up for the newsletter here.

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