Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
I work as Young Adult Volunteer in Boston, splitting my time between a local church and a daytime drop-in shelter for homeless and poor women. The church is an old and beautiful building from the 1850s, and the shelter is located in the basement.
The shelter doesn’t feel like a basement. It is painted a calming yellow, and there always seem to be fresh flowers around. At noon each day, the ladies sit at their tables, and volunteers serve them lunch complete with an apple. It is a simple interaction, which has created a community that has flourished for thirty years.
Part of my job, beyond working with the meals program as a volunteer focused on Food Justice, is to help strengthen the relationship between the church and the shelter. Because though they have shared a building for decades, the shelter is closed on Sundays while the church worships. The two are grateful for the other, for it is quite the symbiotic relationship, but they just don’t see each other.
They also want this to change.
So I have encouraged church members to see the basement when it is filled with guests instead of just during our coffee hour. See the volunteers, the advocates, the card games, the painting, and the coffee drinking. See that there are those in need, be it food, housing, money, or feeling alone, and that we working together to change that (for others and for ourselves).
Just come and see. See the work.
Allow yourself to notice that things are broken everywhere, and be encouraged that you can help put the pieces back together.
We try everyday in a basement at a church.