Help Miriam's Kitchen Build a Neighborhood to End Homelessness in DC
By Cheryl Bell, Executive Chef, Miriam's Kitchen on February 10, 2020
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Feeding our guests every day is more than a meal; it’s the spark that empowers people to push for their right for a safe, permanent home.
Miriam’s Kitchen began as the first meals program west of the White House. Within the first week, we served 200 people a day—showing greater access was desperately needed across DC.
When Miriam’s Kitchen relocated to Foggy Bottom, the local Council Member and many neighbors sought every avenue—including a court battle—to prevent our organization from coming to Ward 2, simply because we were serving food to people experiencing homelessness.
We were grateful for allies—the leadership of Rev. John Wimberly and members of Western Presbyterian Church, students from George Washington University, and even Rev. Jesse Jackson—who fought for our right to serve the needy.
As Executive Chef, I am proud to lead our meals program and honored to serve our guests. I come in at 4:30 a.m. to set up and prepare breakfast with dedicated volunteers for our guests; not because it’s my job but because everyone deserves the dignity of a good meal. My favorite thing about breakfast is having the opportunity to set the tone for their day by announcing the menu and welcoming them to our home for a hot homemade meal and be the exception to what they normally experience. Letting them know they are NOT invisible, and I DO see them beyond their current circumstances – that they matter! At the end of the day, that’s what we all want, right?
However, with more than 1,370 individuals still experiencing homelessness for years in DC—the majority of whom are African American and people of color—I know serving meals is just a start.
That is why I’m proud to work with a team that offers a range of services that address our guests immediate and long-term needs--including our Advocacy Team (A-Team) who partners with our guests to demand change and to reach our bold vision of ending veteran and chronic homelessness in DC.
Thank you for being a part of our journey in creating a more just world where everyone has a safe and permanent place to call home.
I’ve witnessed how a meal becomes the gateway to help our guests find their way home. If you want to help our guests on their journey to housing, here are a few ways to get started:
- Volunteer in the kitchen and experience for yourself how change can start with a meal
- Join The Way Home Campaign, a movement to end homelessness in DC led by our advocacy team
- Join Miriam’s Kitchen at a Budget Engagement Forum to urge the Mayor to invest in ending chronic homelessness. See the dates below and email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP!
- Tuesday, February 18th, 6:30 pm, Edgewood Recreation Center, 301 Franklin St NE
- Thursday, February 20th, 6:30 pm, UDC Student Center, 4200 Connecticut Ave NW
You can read more about how Miriam’s Kitchen is pursuing equity and justice by checking out our latest strategic plan (2019-2022) that includes the following goals:
- Connect 500 individuals to the dignity of a home through Miriam’s Kitchen direct service programs—ending over 3,500 years of homelessness (our guests experience homelessness for an average of 7 years)
- Advance policies that prevent homelessness, increase access to and supply of housing, and address root causes of homelessness
- Shape a bold narrative around long-term homelessness
- Work to meaningfully change the way people of color experience our organization and its impact, and allocate resources to actualize equity in our organization and community
MIRIAM’S KITCHEN LEADING THE WAY
Georgetown University, Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership. President and CEO Scott Schenkelberg joined Professor Alnoor Ebrahim for the book launch of “Measuring Social Change: Performance and Accountability in a Complex World,” which features Miriam’s Kitchen as a unique example of an organization achieving system-wide change.
2020 Solutions for Individual Homeless Adults (Oakland, CA. February 19-21). President and CEO, Scott Schenkelberg will speak on a panel entitled “Bridging the Gap: Approaching White Leadership about Racial Equity and Inclusion.”