Washington D.C -Day Two

Today we went to the D.C Capital Food Bank. This was a huge organization and had a much different atmosphere compared to the church we went to yesterday. The site had a large storage room with a conveyor belt filled with food. The Food Bank receives donations from groceries stores and then sorts this food and serves it to those in need. While we were there we helped sort the food (checked expiration dates, broken boxes, moldy food, etc.) and then packed the good food into boxes that would be handed out to those in need later.

This indirect service wasn’t as impactful to me as the service we did yesterday but what I learned from this trip is that this indirect service is just as important as the direct service. The Food Bank serves thousands of meals a day to the homeless and they would not be able to help that many people with out the volunteers.

Later that evening we went back to YSOP to get started on preparing a meal with them. Whenever YSOP has enough volunteers they are able to serve a dinner party for up to 40 guests. This meal was different then anything I had ever done before because we had the opportunity to sit with the guests, play games with them and hear their story. I sat with a man named Fred and a man named Nathan both of whom were very open with me and willing to share their story. Nathan was an African American male who grew up in the foster care system. He told me that both of his parents recently died from cancer and that he is struggling emotionally. Fred was an older man who was very soft spoken. He shared with me the details of the shelter system in D.C and how he never knows if he is going to get a spot in the shelter each night. I loved this experience and I left that night feeling very touched by the men and women who graciously allowed us into their lives.

Our Northwest group was also partnered with a group of seventh grade students from Baltimore for this service meal. It was awesome to see these bright kids interact with the individuals experiencing homelessness. The seventh graders were very engaged and eager to connect with the guests. At the end of the night we had a reflection with all of the volunteers and it was really fascinating to see what everyone took away from the experience.

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