Griffin Kapelus is a student at the University of Vermont who spends some of his available free time helping the homeless and combatting food insecurity in Burlington, Vermont.

Griffin Kapelus defies many common stereotypes about self-absorbed young adults.  He is thoughtful, sensitive and balances an active social life and busy student life with concern for those less fortunate.


We recently had the opportunity to learn a little more from Griffin Kapelus about how he got involved in volunteering and community service and share some of his favorite things with our readers.


How did you get involved in volunteering and community service?

Community service has become a large part of my life and it is highly possible that my future career goals put me in the non-profit sector. For a summer job, which will continue into the fall, I worked at a low-barrier homeless shelter, meaning we accept people who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs without judgement.

While in New York I volunteered with West Side Campaign Against Hunger, an organization focused on helping food insecure New Yorkers. It has been around for many years but scaled up its operations when COVID-19 created greater food insecurity. I would be with a number of other volunteers helping construct boxes of food and handing them out to people who needed them.

I am now working at Feeding Chittenden in Burlington, VT. Feeding Chittenden works to alleviate hunger by feeding people and cultivating opportunities. As the largest direct service emergency food provider in Vermont, Feeding Chittenden serves over 12,000 people each year.

What book has had the greatest impact on your life?  Why?

“The Meaning and End of Religion: A New Approach to the Religious Traditions of Mankind” by the late Wilfred Cantwell Smith, published in 1962. It traces the meaning of the word “religion” back to its origins and tracks its development to its modern meaning. The author asserts that religion will vary among individuals and that no two people will live their religion in the same way, even if they are both technically of the same faith.

This book changed my approach to religion and spirituality, making me more open to the idea of celebrating the traditions of several religions in my life, rather than choosing just one. It has opened a door for me to embrace spirituality.

What is your favorite TV show?  Why?

My favorite TV show is the series, “Explained,” which is aired on Netflix. Each episode lasts only about fifteen minute and focuses on a new topic each time. Episodes range from “The Stock Market” to “Designer DNA” to “The World’s Water Crisis”.  These episodes tend to be more about breadth than depth but they do enliven significant issues, communities, and ideas.

What is your favorite band and song?

My favorite artist Is Frank Ocean, and my favorite song by him is “Pyramids”.


Frank Ocean’s music is generally introspective and contemplative, and makes him a good relaxing listen that is also thought provoking. He is really creative lyrically and with his use of sounds and samples, and his songs often concern deep but intangible ideas like love, what it means to be a human on this planet, that sort of thing. This song is good because it is broken into two distinct parts, and also introduces important issues about the African-American struggle and identity alongside the more introspective topics he usually takes on. There are also a lot of purposeful layers to the lyrics and music itself.


What is your favorite sport?  Why?

Soccer. I grew up playing it and was pretty good at it, and when I reached the age where I had to choose one sport for a travel team, soccer was it.


I played throughout all four years of high school, spanning the time I spent at two Manhattan schools – Beacon School and York Prep School. I also played on a travel team from ages nine to 17.


While I still play when I can, I consider myself nowadays to be more of a fan and hopefully a coach in the future.


I am a diehard fan of the British team Manchester City, a club I started to follow around the age of 12 when I first saw one of their matches on TV. I liked their light blue home jerseys and their style of play. “Man City” became my team from that point moving forward. My fan devotion grew around age 16, when I started following the team more closely, watching every game on the weekends and catching as many as I could from New York that were aired on TV during the week.


I started to read soccer websites daily, and study highlight videos. My father and I actually went to England when I was 17-years-old and watched a match in person.

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