Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Ariel Shapiro '13

Today we witnessed the purposeful, structured DC Central Kitchen.  We prepared food for at least some of the five thousand meals a day that DC Central Kitchen serves.  Parnian, Shweta, and I spent the good part of an hour struggling valiantly to open dozens of cans of diced tomatoes and spaghetti sauce.  The can openers were warped and demanded all of our focus; my motor skills still were not up for the job.  Yet just dumping can after can into an enormous tub, in the midst of the smell of chopped onions and the sound of peelers on hundreds of potatoes, reminded me of the importance of intentionality.  Many of DC Central's employees wore t-shirts that read "Feeding the Soul of the City," and to me, this motto epitomizes intentionality.  Each potato peeled, and each green bean snapped would be a part of a meal. Focusing on that significance and remembering it with each bean made me feel a part of a large community, scattered across the strangely homey industrial kitchen. I felt affection stirred into the potatoes and baked in the pies.  This philosophy of giving through food, of transmitting affection through food is a powerful one.  Five thousand meals a day is an overwhelming concept -- it's overwhelming to consider that continuous necessity.  But when combined with the giving of dignity, with a whole community of diverse and even disparate volunteers committed to that goal, five thousand meals a day becomes close to a miracle. I do wish that there was no necessity for such an organization, but as there is, I am glad that one such as DC Central Kitchen exists -- one that believes that everyone deserves a good meal of strong, sustainable, often local, healthy and wholesome food. 
    For me, a theme of this trip has been focus.  Before arriving in DC, choosing a profession daunted me -- how to choose a cause, a path, among the many available and the many needed? Yet after hearing from our young alums -- Tara, Eliza, David, and Dana -- and working on projects where without intentionality and focus, we might have been easily overwhelmed, I have realized any service that I engage in wholeheartedly, with the intention to serve God and the community, will be worthwhile.
            This concept was difficult to keep in mind this afternoon, when another terrifying closet faced us at the Homeless Children's Playtime Project.  Although we did defeat the bizarre conglomeration of Christmas decorations, guitar key chains, baby formula, and a box of pink Beanie Baby cats named Fleur, the reality that the children it served were inadequately housed remained.  The Project only operates a few hours a week; children live in the DC Central shelter all the time. The benefit of focus in this situation was, unequivocally, that the situation must improve.  I believe that our experiences with microcosmic situations requiring ingenuity and perseverance have proven to us that these seemingly helpless situations can be improved through dedication, resilience, and teamwork.

This evening, we discussed which organizations that we have volunteered with would we like to work with again.  Our ideas and our desire to continue with these projects speak to what we have learned about what really makes a difference.  Whereas previously, the adult "real" world seemed impenetrable, I now believe that with faith and intention, we really can begin to repair the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment