Stand UP DC 2: Update #1

Dear Families,

We have enjoyed countless name games, ice breakers, and personal moments where we feel so lucky to learn about your teens, their passions, and goals they have for this trip.  They spent the first few days diving in to service projects, pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, and embracing the amazing people we have been fortunate enough to interact and work with.

Below you will find two reflections written by participants willing to share their experiences so far. Please take the time to read their words and thoughts.

– The Stand Up Team

“Hi everyone, Stand UP D.C. is off to a great start! We have been working through our own goals and challenging our previous beliefs on poverty and homelessness. We have already been on a variety of community service projects. On our second day, we had the opportunity to volunteer at D.C. Central Kitchen, the nation’s leading community kitchen. We loved learning from the staff as well as preparing meals to be served the next day! We hope to continue this wonderful experience with our new friends  and amazing counselors.” – Talia S.

“The few days we have experienced together as a tight community in DC so far have been eye opening. The community service and stories we have heard from homeless people have given us a new perspective and pushed the negative connotations that many of us had coming into this program towards the back of our minds and the new, more educated perspective on homelessness towards the front. We started the week off by learning about Street Sense, a newspaper company created to help homeless people get back on their feet. We heard their stories and did activities that gave us the chance to explore our personal beliefs and home lives. Later that night we started off our community service at DC Central Kitchen helping behind the scenes by cutting vegetables, cleaning, and preparing meals. The next day we split into two groups. One group went to an organization called SOME (So Others May Eat) and helped prepare and serve meals in a soup kitchen, while the other group went to Central Union Mission and helped clean, prepare meals, and do inventory of the homeless shelter. The group that went to Central Union Mission also took a tour of the organizational building where they saw where people slept, ate their meals and learned in classrooms. It was a unique opportunity to see more behind the scenes of a homeless shelter and the work put into making it successful.

Last night, we explord Old Town Alexandria and went on a ferry tour where we saw DC monuments and sights lit up at night. It was a relaxing and fun way to just sit for awhile and reflect on our past experiences while looking at a beautiful, city skyline.

This morning we started off our day diving deep into social justice issues that we are passionate about and wanting to make a change in. We learned how to outline “our” story into three categories that will ensure for a powerful speech about social justice issues. We discussed what it means to be powerful and how we perceive that word in our society. We spent the rest of the day working tremendously hard at an outdoor market called Joyful Market. This was a chance for us to really connect one on one with homeless people living in the local community. As we were serving them food, we got to know them more and listened to the stories from those who shared. It was such an amazing experience for all of us to really open our eyes to the community we were in and the people we met. The smiles on all of their faces as they saw us our food into their bags lit up my day. Each and every one of them were extremely grateful of the food they were getting and were beyond respectful and genuine. They each thanked us with nothing but kindness in their voices. Those who just smiled at us or those who opened up and shared their stories with us have inspired us tremendously and we will all take these experiences and stories back home to our local communities and do our best to give back as much as we can.” – Maxine S.

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