Learning to Help the Homeless

Walking down the streets in downtown D.C., I saw homeless people everywhere: on the sides of the street, outside churches, and in front of shops. At a bustling intersection in the Georgetown neighborhood, there was always a man shaking a worn-out McDonalds cup, making the coins rattle inside, saying, “Please help me,” or “God bless you.” Outside the Dupont Circle Metro Station, I always saw a man holding a cardboard sign with some words written on it sitting down with a defeated look on his face. When I saw these people begging for money, looking hopeless, I felt grief-stricken, and this made me determined to do something. I have learned in meeting for worship at my Quaker school how important it is to assist others in your community, and here there were people that needed help. I did not want to be a bystander and do nothing. I wanted to take action, but I did not know how.

One day when I was eating my dinner with my family, my mom told us that our neighbor had invited us to come with him to his church. Following the mass, there was going to be a lunch for the homeless that he was helping to organize. Our neighbor had talked about this event before and about how he has been cooking for the homeless for years. My mom asked if we wanted to go, and I agreed because I wanted to see how to help homeless people. After dinner I went upstairs to go to bed pleased that I was going to find out how to help, but anxious about what I might find.

On the day we were going to the homeless center, I got up, took a shower, put on some clothes, and raced downstairs. I took a quick glance outside. It was a glorious day: the sun was shining brightly in the azure sky, with a scattering of clouds here and there. I was nervous about the day, but also pleased as we got into our neighbor’s maroon car and headed off to the mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. After the church service finished, we went down some stone stairs to a room below the church. The room was full of people; some were watching the Japan versus Columbia World Cup soccer match on TV. Other people were serving salads, pasta dishes, meat, vegetables, and desserts to the homeless. Many people were talking, laughing, and sitting at tables, enjoying the food that had been prepared for them. I was amazed to see how many volunteers were giving their time to help other people ,and it made me feel inspired to do something myself. After we had spent some time in the dining room, we went outside the church and I was overwhelmed to find myself greeted by a long line of people waiting to get into the already full room for their lunch.

After seeing how many people were waiting for food and how happy they were when they were finally able to eat their meals, I realized that a lot more needs to be done to feed the homeless. At home I thought about what could be done and came up with some ideas. I could help by sometimes making food that could be served to the homeless. When I am older I could also help to serve the food and assist other volunteers in preparing the room. I could also advocate for my school to donate leftover lunch food to the homeless. My dad’s work has a canteen, and they could also do the same by giving food they do not use to people who live on the streets.

I was devastated to see how many people were begging for money and how many were lining up to get food. But I was also pleased to see how happy the homeless people were when they were given lunch, something which many take for granted. I was also inspired to see how many people gave up part of their day to help the homeless people. Now I know how I can provide some help to the homeless, and I will try to do what I can to assist them in my life.

Read more: Student Voices Project 2020

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