Meet PORCH Volunteer Ethan Elbogen


A senior at Chapel Hill High School, Ethan Elbogen has lived in Chapel Hill his entire life. A dual-language program at Carrboro Elementary as well as extra Spanish classes at McDougle Middle School helped him become fluent in Spanish. He is now taking courses like AP Spanish Literature and Culture and is enrolled in a public translator course at Durham Tech. 

Ethan first heard about PORCH through his older sister. She volunteered as a translator, and he began helping her to call Spanish-speaking PORCH families when he was in eighth grade. Once she stepped away to attend college, he resumed her duties as a volunteer translator. 

Read on to learn more about Ethan.  

Describe your role with PORCH. 
I used to call and text Spanish-speaking families to remind them to pick up their food the next day, but now that system is more automated, so I only help in person on the pick-up days, translating questions that Spanish speakers have and checking them down on the list to make sure everyone who needs food gets it.

What is your favorite part of working with PORCH? 

My favorite part is calling people up and reminding them to pick up their food – just the thought of one call could help someone get the food they need. Many times, it’s not their fault that they forgot because they have work or don’t have a car.

What would you say to someone thinking about getting involved with PORCH? 

I would say that helping people, although it should be a selfless act, will always be very rewarding, whether it’s PORCH or any other volunteer work. Doing so makes you feel like you’re creating a positive change in a world where many see negativity. From checking in members to loading up food in trunks to delivering food to homes, you will always be thanked with a smile as your work is appreciated. For all those reasons and more, I would say give volunteering a try – the worst you can do is help somebody! 

Why do you think PORCH’s mission is so critical? 

PORCH is impacting these families and providing them with something that shouldn’t be something anybody needs to worry about. Food insecurity is a huge issue – not only in the U.S. but also the world – and knowing that there is an increasing amount of excess food that is being produced shows that not enough is being done to minimize this issue. PORCH especially does a good job because helping those families with children in the school system means that they will have more opportunities to be able to get a good education without having to worry about being hungry and that will translate into future generations hopefully also being more well off.

Connecting with individuals in their native languages is so important – this is a core PORCH belief. Can you speak to the importance of that? 

I believe a language is more than a way to communicate but a way to learn about another culture and using one’s native language is the best way to do so. Language is a great gap that can prevent people from getting the same liberties as others, so closing that bridge is a must. Beyond that, speaking in one’s native language makes everything feel more personal and allows pick-up days to move more smoothly.