What do college students do when they have a four-day break in between a month-long intensive course and spring semester? Go on a service trip to Washington D.C., of course!
I spent this past weekend at the Steinbruck Center in D.C. with eight other students from my school. This trip was rooted not only in service, but service learning. When we arrived on Thursday afternoon, we participated in a workshop to learn more about the systematic and multifaceted aspects of poverty. There is a stigma associated with people experiencing homelessness, when the causes of poverty are beyond an individual’s control. Here are the top seven causes of poverty:
- Lack of affordable housing
- Lack of living wage
- Domestic Violence
- Lack of affordable healthcare
- Lack of jobs
- Substance abuse
- Mental illness
Our first day of service on Friday began with preparing meals at DC Central Kitchen. While we helped with food preparation, they serve the community in many ways from providing healthy school lunches to culinary training. Next we visited Community Craft Collective, an opportunity that “provides healing through creativity for women experiencing economic hardship” by helping women make jewelry, knitted items, or anything else that they can sell at events. We ended the day with another workshop, this time focused on gentrification and its relation to racial injustice.
Gentrification (n): The arrival of wealthier people in an existing urban district, a related increase in rents and property values, and changes in the district’s character and culture. The term is often used negatively, suggesting the displacement of poor communities by rich outsiders
Saturday was split up into two parts. In the morning, we prepared boxes of food to be delivered to low-income elderly people in DC at Capital Area Food Bank. In the afternoon, we toured the Smithsonian, saw the White House, and searched the city for the best cupcake. (We found it. It’s called Red Velvet Cupcakery.)
Our trip concluded with worship at Luther Place Memorial Church on Sunday morning. I enjoyed the service so much, and would highly recommend checking it out if you’re in the area.