by Hunter ’16
As part of our experience with YSOP, we heard from Alan, a formerly homeless man who once had a life to which many would aspire. Alan’s story was inspiring, but the most important thing that Alan told us was that homeless people need to be treated like humans. Of course, I have always known this; however, I get caught up in the discomfort that homeless people can sometimes bring me. This discomfort denies them their right to be treated like humans. Alan told us that his best moment as a homeless person occurred when a woman asked him his name and took the time to talk to him. I felt horrible after hearing this. I realized how humiliating it must be to be ignored by person after person, when all you are trying to do is simply survive. I realized that I need to treat homeless people better. I wouldn’t ignore any of my peers or teachers, so there is no reason I should ignore a homeless person when they ask me how I am or ask me for a dollar.
After working at DC Central Kitchen and Food & Friends last week, we began volunteering at various sites around the city, as organised by the Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP). YSOP worked to connect us to diverse experiences and also give us time to reflect on those experiences. Continue reading
Cameron ’16 writes:
Some thoughts after our first week of service at DC Central Kitchen and Food and Friends.
After working eight shifts at DC Central Kitchen and two shifts at Food and Friends, I noticed some stark differences between their operations. First of all, location. DC Central Kitchen is located in the center of Washington, D.C., whereas Food and Friends is in almost in Silver Springs, Maryland. I feel that their location plays a role in how they operate. DC Central Kitchen prepares and serves five to ten thousand meals a day to the food insecure. In contrast, Food and Friends primarily delivers groceries and frozen meals to those who are ill and their families.
Our work at each site varied as well. At DC Central Kitchen, we were assigned tasks such as chopping food (with razor sharp knives), working with steam kettles, and assisting in the major part of food preparation. We became, for a shift, a trusted, integral part of the organization – a testament to the excellent training and supervision. However, at Food and Friends, we simply bagged groceries according to dietary guidelines. A mindless task, and the minimal effort it demanded left us all feeling under-utilized. Although Food and Friends had the luxury of a spacious facility and were certainly a need in the community, I felt that our work at DC Central Kitchen had a greater impact. Moreover, we felt appreciated, trusted, and motivated to engage in such work in the future. We worked alongside the chefs and felt we made a difference.
by Chris ’16
One of the most memorable aspects of my time in DC has been the relationships I have forged with different members of the community. One in particular was with a man who worked in DC Central Kitchen named Louis. Even though he was fairly short, his loud voice and big smile made him instantly recognizable. We bonded over our love of basketball, supported by the fact that March Madness is right around the corner. Although our conversations were not overly personal, I felt that Louis was appreciative of his work and happy to be doing what he was doing. It was evident that his positive attitude affected others in the kitchen and made it a joyful working place. In addition, this made me appreciate DC Central Kitchen more, since it had provided him with a new opportunity, or perhaps a second chance, one which he has fully embraced. Continue reading
On Thursday and Friday, we worked not only at DC Central Kitchen, but also at Food & Friends, an organisation that provides meals and groceries to people living with chronic illnesses, especially HIV/AIDS. While both organisations work to address challenges of nutrition in vulnerable populations, our role as volunteers was quite different at each place.
The full group in fine form
Skippy and the makings of pumpkin bread
Brandon at Food and Friends, preparing fresh groceries (proportioned for giant rabbits?)
Austin and Skippy, at work in the bakery of DC Central Kitchen
Baked ziti (and Bill)
The Washington Monument, in the full glory of a March day!
The group post a visit to the top of the Washington Monument!
Austin, Chris, and Hunter
The eve of our final shift at DC Central Kitchen, and all is well!
Enjoying post-shift cupcakes at Food and Friends!
Alex, at the seat of the US government!
After arriving in the city on Sunday (and more or less efficiently finding our way to our hostel home), we began work at DC Central Kitchen on Monday. DC Central Kitchen is the largest soup kitchen in the city. “Soup kitchen” is a bit of a misnomer, since DC Central Kitchen is involved in not only local meal distribution but also food recycling and job training.
Alex stands with a tray of barbecue chicken, having individually coated in each piece in the eponymous sauce.
Bagels and baked goods? Cody is tickled!
Learning that mixing spaghetti for hundreds of people is quite a different matter than for a family dinner.
In the capitol, where to rest besides in front of the National Gallery of Art?
Six hours of chopping and cleaning – they’re tuckered!
This year George School students will be participating in a number of service trips throughout the world. This spring trips will go to France, Mississippi, Nicaragua, South Africa, and Washington, DC. This summer groups will travel to Arizona, China, and Cuba. More information about each trip is below. Continue reading