Interview with Kathy Winters and Graeme King, Food For All Site Coordinators
Why do you give up your Saturday mornings for FFA?
KW: I have been living in DC for 25 years, but spent most of my time in the more affluent northwest quadrant of the city. The Food For All program has given me the opportunity to visit almost all the neighborhoods in DC, and appreciate their history, dynamics and needs.
GK: For a long time I had been thinking about doing something to help the community. As a privileged individual I feel almost duty-bound to reach out to others. So one Saturday morning I thought to myself, “Why not get up early and use this time for something productive?”
Who are your volunteers?
KW: We have diverse groups of volunteers. I am so happy when school children come with their teachers. When people volunteer at a young age, it sticks. I always find a special job for the younger children so they feel they are doing something important. I see a lot of goodness in our volunteers. Often they write positive comments on their client delivery sheets such as, “We had a great time. Thanks!”
GK: Our program has a lot of human warmth and that seems to attract people who care. We have a lot of diverse people coming to volunteer: church groups, sororities, military personnel, corporate groups, but everyone gets along really well because they have all come with a common sentiment: to help others.
How do your clients respond to the program?
KW: Often we receive appreciative hugs from our clients, and on one occasion a women sang us a song she had written to celebrate her transition from living in the streets to being housed in a new apartment. Many clients don’t have visitors on a regular basis, so they are very grateful when we come to their homes.
GK: One woman sang a song for us in 5 verses. She told her story of child abuse. Another woman, Mary D., a senior, lives on a street that gets rough some nights. She is stuck in that neighborhood, but she is always cheerful and appreciative, and keeps her apartment spotlessly clean.
What keeps you going?
KW: I enjoy running the program as it is different each week, with a different set of people and challenges. Also, I love getting to know clients who have lived here for a long time. They have so much character.
GK: I am amazed at how many amazing people come every week. In 7 years I could count on one hand the number of negative people who have shown up to volunteer. I can’t think of one unpleasant Saturday morning.
Learn more about Food For All.