Understanding homelessness in Washington D.C.

by Daniel Alexander

In the Summer of 2016, BBYO Passport youth from all over the U.S. traveled with Amizade to Washington D.C. to learn more on homelessness and hunger. While teaming up with our community partners, they got in touch with the homeless reality and met up brave people who made a huge impact on their lives. Read up some thoughtful reflections made by participants.

Angel (Paradise Valley, AZ)

“We have only been here for a few days but so far the trip to Washington and the volunteering that we have done further deepened my empathy for different sects and communities in America that haven’t been as lucky to have the privileges I have grown up with. The volunteering has opened up pathways, that haven’t previously been available to me, that have created tones for conversations with the homeless community. From this, steeotypes I previously held have been abolished. I have learned that education isn’t completely absent from these men and women’s pasts and the strive for change within their lives is clear in every word they speak. The gratitude I have been responded with by the community is an
additional factor that gets me even more excited for the next coming days!”

Gabi G (Westin, FL)

“This trip has already impacted my life. Each service activity we learn about or participate in teaches me something new. The stories we hear from the people experiencing homelessness were far off from my expectations, it was incredible to listen to these real life stories. The shelters that we visit, cook, or serve food at are so dedicated to helping the homeless, and it is so inspiring. I can tell I am learning so much already.”

Corey (West Bloomfield, MI)

“Our recent experiences have already made me think a lot about how I can try to translate some of the things I am learning here into community action in my hometown of Detroit.”

Hope (Houston, TX)

“At Central Union Mission, there were many people waiting for food to be served, but a whole group of guys made sure that Billy, another homeless person who happens to be blind, got food before them. They quickly gave up food for another person who they felt needed it more and it was really amazing to get a glimpse into the community at this shelter. After I asked Billy how his day was going, he responded: ‘It hasn’t been great til ya’ll came in.’ This moment really warmed my heart and it made me so happy to be here.”

Shira (Cos Cob, CT)

“I thought it was cool how DC Central Kitchen is not only working to solve the immediate need of hunger by cooking 5,000 meals a day, but they also have an awesome culinary arts program that trains people and helps them find jobs, so that they can improve their situations in the long-run.”

Along these reflections, participants shared strong thoughts on a “Wall of Quotes”. Check out some of them.

“You have to learn about people who are different to be able to help yourself.”

“A simple conversation with a homeless individual can change his or her day in a powerful way.”

“I have learned a lot about people experiencing homelessness in DC, but this knowledge can also be used to homeless people where I live.”

“Our only duty, I believe, in life, is to learn, teach, love and appreciate no matter your wealth, education or background.”

We’re honored to have shared such great moments of learning with BBYO participants. Keep up the good work, friends.