E² Box: Empathy and Equity in Practice

By: Adriana Flores, MSU School of Social Work, Graduate Intern, floresad@msu.edu

Edgewood Village Apartments Sign, Source: edgewoodvillage.netIn the spring of 2016, Jessica McClard modified the concept of "The Little Free Library," designed to give children access to books in their neighborhoods, to provide food items in her community in Arkansas. This sparked the idea of creating a similar box in Lansing, but this location has a different need. Individuals or families whose income is below the poverty line are eligible for food stamps. Unfortunately, household supplies and paper products such as deodorant, shampoo, pads, tampons, soap, etc. are not included. The E² box also mirrors the concept of the "Little Free Library," but will provide the hygiene items that cannot be obtained through the SNAP program.

The name E² was chosen by the box's creator, Adriana Flores, because, as a teacher assistant for an introduction to Social Work class, she gave a short lecture on the concept of empathy and equity. The lecture was titled the lecture E². This box is a resource that provides for the equitable treatment of others, and this concept manifests from empathy.

Adriana met with various people to discuss the E² box, and the Edgewood Village community in East Lansing agreed to pilot the first box. Throughout this semester she created a needs assessment and gained insight on community member's perspectives. Residents and staff of Edgewood Village Network Center have been allowed Adriana to attend their meetings and explain their thoughts to her. As a nearby community member of Edgewood Village, this project has allowed Adriana to learn about her community and the thoughtfulness and strength of its residents.

The box will be placed in June, but prior to this date there will be a "decorate the box" event, an action plan created, social media sources made, and a case study. The case study could be used as a framework to expand the E² box into other communities.

The E² box will be stocked with free, donated, items for residents. Residents are also encouraged to become a part of the project, and give as they can. The E² box concept is a resource that meets a gap in services and would create a stronger community tie between the residents, community organizations, MSU, and any other partnering organizations.

For more information, please contact Adriana Flores at floresad@msu.edu.

Back to Article list