Student Reflections on the 2019 Service Trip to Washington DC

Kate Stupin and Carter Anderson

Hingham Congregational Church, United Church of Christ

Hingham, Massachusetts

June 30, 2019

Hello, everyone!

        One piece of advice we were given this week was this, plain and simple: Say at least hi to everyone you can, every person you pass, every person you know, and everyone you don’t. So again to all of you, hi and thank you for being here whatever brought you.

        The past week has been saturated in love, devotion, and hope. Every organization we interacted with embodied at least one of these characteristics and every person we interacted with was the same.

        Although countless examples of all the love, devotion and hope we experienced throughout the past week…(here are a few)

        We saw love in Mrs. Hilda’s eyes as she giggled down the hallways of an apartment building alongside us. We saw love in her eager and excited energy as she helped deliver groceries to the other seniors in her building.

        We saw devotion in Tay’s patience as he taught us how to slice and dice just about every fruit to make a meal for hundreds of local children. We saw devotion in the way he spoke of his kids with a soft smile, detailing the dinners he liked to cook for them.

        We saw hope in the families shopping at A Wider Circle’s showroom. We saw hope in some families choosing a child’s first proper bed, a step up from the floor, a child’s first real shot at waking up rested and ready to learn, a step towards a fair shot.

        At A Wider Circle, a quote hung on the wall, in bold letters it read: “If yyou have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is tied up with mine, then let us work together.”

        Liberation is, as I have realized this week, independence. And blessed with an upbringing of much comfort, much independence, where every meal is secure and every night is spent on a mattress, under a roof, this week has challenged my comfort and my feelings of independence. My body may rest comfortably, but my soul remains wild and impassioned with hopes of working with anyone and everyone so we may all enjoy such bodily comfort, so we may all live liberated.

        The problems of homelessness, food insecurity, housing insecurity, and many more have solutions entirely rooted in the humanity of a people, our people. We saw that this week through the love, devotion, and hope we saw embodied in organizations like, A Wider Circle, DC Parks and People, DC Central Kitchen, Seabury, and We Are Family, among others. The problems this world faces are larger than what a week can highlight. These problems are not fixable by one person, they are problems fixable by one people, fixable by united efforts and action. THis week empowered me. We are all one person, all capable of exploring and filling a role in these united efforts. So, with the new knowledge of this past week, and a great desire to live in a liberated world, i leave you all with words from an award on the wall of one organization, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter – but beautiful – struggle for a new world”

-Kate Stupin

On the trip, I had four interactions with four different people that meant a lot to me. At the agency of Washington Parks & People I met Behnam, a man that works to help green spaces flourish in DC in order to strengthen communities. During our time with him he instructed us what to do, as he had previously hurt his back by working too hard at his job. The next day I met Bernard at Central Union Mission, helping to make the beds for hundreds of men in need of a place to sleep. In our downtime he taught us about his native country of Indonesia and told us about his three kids. That night we had a dinner for members of the local homeless community and I met Valeta. She was a little standoffish at first, but soon opened up over a game of Apples to Apples and told us tales of her deathly fear of heights and her grown brother’s extreme fear of thunder and lightning. Finally, at the agency So Others Might Eat I met Ravik, a Hatian native who insisted I take a seat so she could tell me about NASA before blessing and giving words of power and encouragement to Jared Mayo, Mikieh Sullivan, and I. Theses four people were all different in vast contrasts, but all of them managed to give me the bigger picture. Whether they are better off financially or living in shelters, there are good people everywhere. By meeting Benham, Bernard, Valeta, and Ravik, and many others during the trip, I learned that you can triumph through any obstacle as long as you stay optimistic and true to yourself.

-Carter Anderson