As our departure time nears you may wonder where the Washington D.C. group will be volunteering over the spring break week. Here is a little about each of the organizations that we will be visiting.
Most of our time will be spent at the Father McKenna Center and this is also where we will be staying. A stone’s throw from our nation’s capital, the Father McKenna Center was established in 1983 to carry on the legacy of Father Horace McKenna, a Jesuit priest who devoted his life to the service of the poor and homeless. The poorest of the poor come to the Father McKenna Center each weekday to get their mail, take a shower, to get some clean clothes, to ask for job and drug counseling and to experience a safe and drug-free environment. The Father McKenna Center can either provide or efficiently refer guests to any service a homeless man needs. The Father McKenna Center is the last day-time drop-in center for homeless men in the downtown Washington, DC area. The Father McKenna Center serves men, women and families through its programs that include:
- Men’s day-time drop-in center
- Food pantry serving families and senior citizens
- Rent and utility assistance to prevent homelessness
- Cold weather hypothermia shelter to prevent homeless men from freezing
- A small transitional living program
The vast majority of those who come to the Father McKenna Center suffer from mental illness and addictions. The purpose of the Father McKenna Center is to uncover the reasons why a person suffers from poverty and homelessness and then through mental health, medical, addiction counseling and education to motivate a person to go beyond their current situation. Demand for the services of the Father McKenna Center increased significantly due to recession, chronic poverty and unemployment and remains high.
We will also be visiting the Capital Area Food Bank. The mission of the Capital Area Food Bank is to feed those who suffer from hunger in the Washington metro area by acquiring food and distributing it through its network of partner agencies; and educating, empowering and enlightening the community about the issues of hunger and nutrition. CAFB is a member of Feeding America, a national network of 200 food banks.
Many of the food bank’s 700 partner agencies report they are seeing a tremendous increase in those seeking food assistance, from 30 to 100 percent. This increase is due to: job loss, the economy, high cost of housing, lack of health care and other issues. The CAFB’s motto is ’til no one is hungry.
The Capital Area Food Bank:
- Distributes 33 million pounds of food annually, half of which is fresh produce
- Serves 478,100 people in the region struggling with hunger
- Delivers 120 fresh produce drops each month to 90 sites throughout the Washington metro area
- Spends 92 cents of each dollar raised for food distribution, transportation and programs
Last but not least we will be stopping by Food & Friends. The mission of Food & Friends is to foster a community caring for men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses by preparing and delivering specialized meals and groceries in conjunction with nutrition counseling.
Food & Friends serves more than 2,800 individuals at any given time. About half of the clients live in the District of Columbia, one-third in Maryland and 15% in Virginia. More than 75% of our clients have monthly incomes less than $1,000. For most of our clients, Food & Friends is their only support.
For more information about these wonderful organizations please visit their websites.