Father McKenna Center

October 22, 2014

As I hiked up Rockville Pike, I was contemplating on what the day would be like, and what I would learn. I had never been to the Father McKenna Center. All I knew was that the people we were serving were enduring the struggle of homelessness. I had the mindset that this would be like all other poverty sites in my past. Before we left the doors of Stone Ridge’s Hamilton House, to prepare myself, I asked the SR volunteers, what they thought of the Father McKenna Center. The words they used to describe the staff and the people who they were serving were: warm, appreciative, kind, and generous. But I did not fully grasp and understand the meaning of those words. As soon as we arrived, we started immediately preparing for lunch. Every volunteer was assigned specific tasks. Our group worked tediously trying to finish all the work that needed to be done in time. When our group was through cleaning up, we joined the freshmen poverty rotation, who were meeting the men who lived at the center. There, at that moment, I acquired one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. The individuals, who were afflicted with homelessness, shared their emotions, and their stories of how they ended up in the situations that they are in today. Their openness to share their mistakes, and their everyday battles, was unbelievable. These brave men were educated people, who made either one or a couple of mistakes in their life, which led them to where they are now. And with them attending and participating in the Father McKenna program, they are taking a step forward, trying pick up the pieces of where they left off in life, trying to restore broken relationships. The Father McKenna Center is truly a place of refuge. After listening to the exceptional stories, the volunteers were called back to work, to get ready to serve the food that we worked so hard to prepare. We set up our stations and braced ourselves for the mass of people coming through our door. Then it was time for lunch to begin. We had to think fast, and one by one, they quickly came through our door. When it was over, we had the opportunity to taste the masterpiece we created, and so we dove in. As the SR volunteers, sat and ate together, we spoke of the day’s events, and how much we appreciated the stories. We talked about what we took away from them, and how thankful we are to have experienced a moment in time with the men, to listen to their powerful advice to us, as young adults. I finally understood what the volunteers meant when they described the Father McKenna Center as warm, appreciative, kind, and the generous.

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