Hope is not something that can exist without effort, there always needs to be someone tending it, making sure it never flickers out. Just like a fire, people are drawn to it for the warm and security it offers. A group will work together to make sure the fire is stocked and various tasks are assigned. Just like the bonfire, food for others is this place of comfort and a light at the end of the tunnel. For this very reason, it is crucial that places with similar purposes as food for others need to be protected and maintained. When the organization almost collapsed in the 90's the Fairfax government stepped in and kept it alive because they realized that people need hope and a possibility of a future. Almost a thousand volunteers show up a month to help the organization stay on its feet. It is truly inspiring and heartwarming to see this outpouring of human compassion and empathy. The directors thank you letter covered door was the climax of the entire experience, showing that there is no greater pleasure in life than securing a future for others.
Food for others is an incredible and unique organization. It has been operating in Northern Virginia for more than thirty years and has undergone its fair share of challenges. The greatest surprise that came up was that technology is the organizations greatest enemy at this time. Food for others receives a sizable portion of their donations from grocery stores. Now however, the organization is no longer meeting their donation goals because of a growing efficiency in the ways grocery stores operate. Computers now run most of the processes and as a result there is little to no surplus. Food for others has had to turn to other sources of donations as a result. What is really inspirational is that the community stepped up and not only managed to fill the gap the grocery chains had left but managed to raise the amount of food donated. It is gratifying to see individuals and groups coming together in a time of crisis and keeping a beacon of hope shining.
Imagine leaving your house which is full of food and is clean and warm. You drive over to the food for others warehouse and upon entering the office, are at the end of a line of people just like you but who are without food. At the front of the line, are people just like you too, except they are volunteering their free time and energy to helping others. Although you were prepared for this kind of scene, it still knocks you off your feet. Everyone is smiling, the building is warm, and the smell of freshly baked bread fills the air. When you reach the front of the line, it is your turn to state your business and go the according location. You enter Jessica Cogen's office, director of development and outreach. The first thing you notice is the thank you cards covering her door. You cannot help but like her warm frank attitude as she welcomes you. After a while you enquire about the cards and to your surprise, she says that some of these people she barely knew but reading the cards it seems like its a real friendship. You think over it in awe, realizing you really are in the center of something real and bright.
To the average everyday student from an average family some things can be missed. The suffering of others has a different less life threatening meaning than for other less fortunate people. For people of middle class background the worst that can happen is some specific wish cannot be fulfilled, although that is not ideal, it is not life threatening. This all changed when the recession hit the United States. Suddenly, average people were cutting out all sorts of desires just to make ends meet. Out of nowhere the cheapest possible foods were bought, homes were sold, cheaper apartments were acquired, children were even put into public schools. Finally, some even had lost all sense of hope, but luckily, there was an organization that could help them.
Imagine thinking you are alone in your suffering and need for food. Try to put yourself in a scenario of owning a house but having no food, reaching into the fridge one morning and there is nothing inside. You face a variety of challenges. Not only the actual hunger but also the social embarrassment of your neighbors knowing you are without food. Luckily for the people of Northern Virginia, there is an organization that offers hope for these people. Food for Others is an organization that has broken the stereotype that only the homeless can get food aid. Food for Other serves people who own homes and don't have food as well in addition to the homeless. They mainly received surplus food from local supermarket chains, which they then unpack-age, store, and repack into boxes (similar to what we did at Ateneo during the typhoon Yolanda relief) They then ship it to their local handout centers. Food for Others really is a beacon of hope to those who thought they were undeserving of help and compassion.