DC Central Kitchen
posted by Michael Byrne '12
Today we worked at DCCK for the second day in a row, but today something was different in the kitchen. The mood was much lighter today, and much more fun. The staff was joking around with us the whole time while we cooked another meal for 4500 people. Harriet, Sara, and Lindsay formed an on the spot a'capella trio, and started belting out songs from Disney movies. One of the staff members, Freddie, didn't take to kindly to their melodious singing, and promptly brought out a "boom box" and played old soul songs, and sang them all with us. Everyone in the kitchen was singing and dancing and having a blast. At the end of our four hours, which felt more like a half hour if that, Bo, one of the head chefs, addressed us in the break room. He genuinely thanked us for bringing such a positive and fun attitude to the kitchen. He told us that he always loves volunteers like us, and they are few and far between. He told us we even calmed down Freddie, who normally stresses more than anyone in the kitchen. It definitely made us feel extremely appreciated for our efforts, and made the trip so much more worthwhile.
National Coalition for the Homeless
posted by Liz DeMetro '12
Today we had a meeting at the National Coalition for the Homeless. The organization, founded in 1982, is committed to fighting and eventually ending homelessness. We heard from three formerly homeless people, all of whom had very interesting and moving stories. Jesse Smith spoke first. Jesse became homeless after his wife filed for divorce. Jesse left everything to his wife, and he moved to Washington, D.C. to move in with his mother. Jesse became severely depressed. He quit his job and left the comfort of his mother's home. Jesse was homeless for over six years before he finally returned to his mother's home and became involved with the National Coalition for the Homeless. Brenda spoke next. She is fifty three years old and she became homeless due to family issues. She was homeless for four years and eight months before she was able to get off the streets. Brenda was very passionate about the issue of homelessness and her talk was very moving. Brian was the last to speak, and although his talk was a little long, he was also very interesting. He also became homeless due to family issues. Brian has been homeless for three years, and he recently moved into an apartment.
All three speakers spoke about their time in shelters and their experiences were very surprising. The speakers talked about how horrible most of the shelters are. They talked about the abuse, both physical and verbal, that the staff had inflicted upon them. Brian said that he was thrown through a wall and Brenda talked about how she was harassed and verbally assaulted every morning at the shelter. It was shocking to hear this, considering that we had been hearing all about how great the shelters in the city are. The speakers were so interesting because this was the first time that we got to hear what it is like to be homeless from people who had actually been homeless.
posted by Christine Chace '12
Tina and I arrived on the third floor greeted by one of the woman from the night shelter. She gave us a smile and directed us to the office. We met with Kristyn and went over the procedures for the night. She showed us how to let the ladies in the building, where to find their medicine, and what to do in the morning. She showed us the rooms where the ladies sleep and then the dining room where the ladies hang out and watch television. Tina and I hung out in the dining room with the ladies and watched the television show "House". The ladies talked back and forth trying to figure out what was wrong with the patient in the show. Tina and I chimed in once in a while. Kristyn left us for the night and Tina and I remained in the dining room with the ladies. Only three ladies decided to stay up after 10 when quiet hours began. One lady was in charge of letting people into the building through the buzzer system so she sat in a chair near a desk. Many of the other ladies called her "Ma". The other lady talked to Tina and me for a bit but then went to bed. The third lady just sat and read her book. All the ladies were in bed by 10:30. It was Sunday night and all the ladies were tired. They also knew they had to wake up at 6 o'clock. Tina and I shut up the dining room and the kitchen and stayed in the office. We had to wait up for one lady who was due back at the shelter by 11:30. 11:30 came around and the lady did still had not arrived at the shelter. Tina went out into the hallway to ask the ladies what we would do in this situation when one lady is late. Right as Tina walked out, the buzzer went off and I let the lady into the building. Tina and I finally went to bed around 12:30.
We both awoke at 5:50 to get ready to start our morning procedures. At 6, I walked around the floor and unlocked the dining room and kitchen, and the stairway door. Only one out of the three dorm rooms were lit up and I wondered if I should have woken the other two up by turning on their lights but I was too nervous to do it. But then "ma" stepped next to me and told me to turn the lights on in their rooms so that the ladies all wake up. I did it hesitantly. I returned to the office where Tina and I waited for all the ladies to come and get their medication. The ladies knew their routine and could have done it without me or Tina. Each lady came into the office and told us their name and we got their medicine out of the draw. We would find their name in the "medicine log" book and the ladies would initial and then one of us would initial after. Some of the ladies' medicines were not in the draw and they had to tell us where to find their medicines. The ladies were very patient with us. When they came into the office they would greet us with a smile and asked us how we were doing. Then when they were leaving the shelter they said "bye" and told us to have a great day. The Lovely Ladies of Luther Place were extremely warm and welcoming. Tina and I could tell that each had a story to share and were working hard to thrive.