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Emily Blackshire

Paw Pantry

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Emily is a Givebutter Changemaker - an elite group of young movers and shakers around the world that inspire those around them to give back through the incredible work that they do for others. Learn more about Changemakers.

Bio


I'm a senior at Clemson University pursuing a degree in Language and International Health and hope to eventually become a public defender and work specifically in refugee and immigrant cases. I spend most days reading the New Yorker, drinking too much coffee and pretending I exercise enough to justify the amount of pizza I consume on a weekly basis. I love the great outdoors, hanging out with cats, and am working to check my privilege daily. I currently serve as a founder/director of the Clemson University Paw Pantry, an on-campus food pantry run by students and for students.


Q&A


What does giving mean to you?

For me, giving means acknowledging the value of someone else with a contribution to their life, whether through a gift, time, or necessary resources. It is service through another lens - saying "what you're doing is worthwhile to me so I am financially contributing/devoting time/sharing your message in order to support you as best I can."


Who in your life most inspires you and why?

There are a LOT of people who inspire me but I would say the most impactful has been my friend DJ. He is perpetually seeking ways to be a better community member, advocate for others, and advocate for his own identities. He selflessly (and often sleeplessly) is pursuing a more equitable world. He is kind but firm in his beliefs, never faltering from doing what is right. He's just amazing.


What is the best advice you've ever received?

I took a year off before coming to Clemson and spent the first 5-ish months in Jinja, Uganda working with women who where recently displaced from the civil war. I lived in a house with a few other women and on the walls was Robert Breszny's "Rules for Living", the first and second being "have fun as you foment benevolent rebellion; do good even as you tamper with the status quo". It is still a mantra I repeat every time I step into a protest or start a new project. There should absolutely be fun involved when you're trying to do good, but you shouldn't shy away from shaking up the norms and stepping into discomfort to do the right thing.


What is your greatest achievement to date?

I realize that's not a traditional "achievement," but I think above all else, I value my ability to empathize with others and be a good friend. Being a conscientious, compassionate community member is something I deeply value and I would say my relationships with others are what has grown me the most. 


Tell us more about the Paw Pantry.

Currently, I serve as director of the Clemson University Paw Pantry, a by-students, for-students solidarity-based approach to combatting food insecurity on Clemson's campus. We opened for business in March and have ~60 clients so far this semester. We are a no-questions-asked space for students to get non-perishable food, toiletries, and school supplies and are hoping to expand to a fully-fledged resource center to direct students to other sources of aid as well (off-campus nonprofits, SNAP benefits, financial aid, counseling services, free meals, etc.). 


Describe yourself in five words.

Curious, eager, hungry, empathetic, animated


What does the Givebutter movement mean to you?

To me, spreading the butter is all about combining awareness and generosity around causes that impact real people. It's about combining efforts and creativity to do social good and increase millennial giving.