Having somewhere to go is a home,
Having someone to love is a family,
Having both is a blessing.
This old adage has seen me through the turbulences that marked my Atlas Corps journey thus far. It has been a truly humbling experience serving adults experiencing chronic homelessness in down town Washington D.C at Miriam’s Kitchen. This coupled by my own housing problems made even clearer to me the importance of having a shelter in which one is able to call home, albeit even if it is a temporary one for a service year. In the initial few weeks of my fellowship, I was forced to move from the place I was renting and ended up staying with family. Though this initially appeared to be a blessing in disguise, it soon very became apparent that even with the best intentions in mind; people are often unable to maintain the level of generosity initially promised.
At Miriam’s Kitchen I am privileged to meet courageous men and women, some whom have experienced homelessness recurrently for years and even decades, as well as others for whom this is their first experience. I have found their courage in trying to maintain dignity in spite of such adversity to be a source of inspiration, whilst many condemn and view homelessness as a personal failing; to me it is a sad reflection of societal failure requiring collective efforts in order to stem the tide of chronic homelessness. A friend of mine recently commented that rent in D.C. must be cheaper in comparison to London given its relatively small size; alas this is not the case in fact only recently a newspaper article highlighted the fact that D.C. is now the second most expensive city in the US, after San Diego. Clearly there is a housing boom with development going on not just within the district but also in surrounding neighborhoods, the concept of ‘affordable housing’ continues to be but a distant dream for many professionals. Even worst for those in the lower income bracket, such as the many the guests that attend Miriam’s Kitchen, who despite having grown up in Washington for generations, have now found that they have been priced out of their homes.
Whilst at the annual Miriam’s Kitchen signature fundraising event #100Bowls of Compassion last week, glamour and fun was high on the agenda and the exotic Nordic theme served up some truly imaginative food, the focal point was to celebrate and support Miriam’s Kitchen mission to end chronic homelessness and this was reflected in the fact that over $600,000 was raised to help this crucial fight. It was indeed a proud night for me not just as an Atlas Corps Fellow, but more crucially as a current member of the awesome team of amazing individuals of staff and volunteers that collectively make Miriam’s Kitchen a great place to serve.