By: Kevin Ea
Spring Break 2013 was probably one of the most memorable and life changing weeks of my life. I didn’t spend it on a beach or at a resort; I spent it in Washington D.C. with a group of 10 students including myself and our faculty advisor Tracy Reed. We left Abington on the morning of March 2nd and arrived at the hostel we would be living at known as Shalom Place where we were greeted by our wonderful guide for the week, Suzanne Unger. The first night was spent getting comfortable and preparing ourselves for the challenging week to come. The following day we navigated our way through the public transportation system and onto the Metro. It wasn’t as intimidating as one would think, but it was only a Sunday so it was pretty barren.
Our first destination was at SOME (So Others May Eat), a place where the homeless were able to get a hot meal. We helped the staff prepare the tables, wash the cups and plates, some even served the food. It was a humbling experience and showed many of us how lucky we were to have hot meals every day. We were also taken on a tour around N Street Village, which as stated from their website “is a community of empowerment and recovery for homeless and low-income women in Washington, D.C.” During one night we visited several of the monuments, the newest and in my opinion most insightful was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. This is definitely a must see, because it was just so intense.T here was a towering sculpture of him and surrounding the memorial were quotes by the Martin Luther King Jr. which spoke wonders on life and equality among men.
Many of our mornings and nights were spent at DC Central Kitchen. This place is an inspiration in it of itself. This organization preps and makes enough food to feed close to 5,000 people a day! The fact that I had the opportunity to help was a blessing. At times it was tough and tiring, because there were endless amounts of vegetables to be peeled, chopped and cleaned. However, there was never a dull moment, the enthusiastic staff and the fellow volunteers made the work easy and enjoyable.
On our last day, we had the fortune of listening to a two men whom had been previously homeless and it brought to light so many misconceptions that we as a society have about the homeless and that it could happen to anyone of us. Afterwards one of the men guided us on an outreach run. One interaction will stay with me for the rest of my life. During the outreach run I gave a homeless man, who had nothing but the clothes on his back, a bag with a sandwich and snacks. The smile on his face was of pure happiness. While I was walking away I looked back. What I saw was unimaginable. That very same man who had nothing until I approached him was walking over to another homeless man and gave him all the food he had just received from me. I was awestruck. A man who had absolutely nothing still had the kind and caring nature to give to another who needed it more.
This was truly a life changing week in ways no one will understand unless they experience it firsthand. I’ve created memories and friendships that will last a life time. In this life we need to be more considerate of others and be thankful for everything and everyone in our lives. So many others dream to have the things we take for granted. Be kind, be caring and most of all…be thankful.