Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Breaking of the Bread
By: Tito F. Williams II

Enjoying a meal, wether it be hot or cold, sitting down or on the the go, pan sered or microwaved, is often taken for granted and over look by most, going through out the day thinking "I want to have (blank) for breakfast, I have a taste for (blank) for lunch, and lets eat out tonight." For some, thoughts such as these are but an unobtainable feat.  For those on public assistance, in temporary housing, or homeless, the concept of a guaranteed meal is an inaccessible luxury.  Food stamps are available however can run out before the end of the month and soup kitchens can be a demoralizing a depressing experience.

Why not provide a full restaurant experience for those in need of a meal.  4 days a week from 3:00pm - 5:30pm this is possible. As one enters the doors of Broad Street Ministry's sanctuary, he/she is greeted by a lovely host, free to sit at a table of their choosing as music moves through the space.  Cloths cover tables, topped with decretive center pieces, thirst quenching ice water, and apatizing bread.  Volunteers fan out to assist and mingle with the guest entering the doors as the days dinner prepared by Chef Steven Seibel  makes its way from the kitchen to the stage in the sanctuary. Here meals are plated and then served to the tables by volunteers. Guests enjoy a hot professionally chef cooked meal, seated serving, and warm inviting faces. This experience at Broad Street Ministry is what is known as Breaking bread.

I spent a total of three months assistant managing Tuesdays breaking bread service.  During that time, every Tuesday night I had the pleasure of witnessing one of the greatest displays of human peace and love I have personally ever seen. Broad Street Ministry's Breaking Bread service transcends a simple meal for those in need. The service provides a family.  Individuals from around the city come and experience love with in this room.  From friends taking part in the meal to volunteers and staff developing warm relationships with the guest that walk through the doors.  Breaking Bread mends a distance cercomstances have created within those who hard times have fallen upon.  As we Break Bread in filling stomachs, Broad Street mends a heart in hopes it may bare another day until the struggle has ended and better has arrived.

Monday, February 10, 2014

EboniJoi McNeill | Introduction "Why I Volunteer"

Volunteering at The Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residenc

Siblings Rasul & Hannifah Brown
Volunteering at The Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence

I am EboniJoi McNeill, I am 21 years of age and was born in Wilmington, NC. I am the youngest of seven siblings and in my household my parents made certain that all of their children understood that even though we were struggling to get by and keep a roof on our heads, we were still better off than a great deal of others. They emphasized the values gained in community service work and that we could be a blessing to someone everyday! As time went on I began to integrate the idea of giving back and being a positive influence on others into my everyday life. 

Not only did my parents stress the importance of community service, but they also made it a point to teach all of their  children about Black History and where we came from. They taught us about the leaders of our race dating all the way back to the inception of these United States. As well as a deep and empowering lesson on how we developed in the United States as a people and how the values and principles of community service really built the momentum behind that movement. And as I became an adult I held tightly to those stories and they influenced me greatly.

When I moved to Philadelphia to attend The University of the Arts, I realized that I moved here to do more than just study music  but to also change the Greater Philadelphia Area for the better! I truly believe, and I tell numerous people that I received a calling to move to Philadelphia. I chose to believe that that calling was from God, however regardless of what the major influence was from, I'd always grown up wanting to move to Philadelphia but not knowing exactly why. Yet, when I moved here I soon realized that reason. Philadelphia's Black community is massive and many of the black families living in Philadelphia are struggling. I received the opportunity to meet U'Arts alumni, Michael O'Bryan, and he soon informed me of the state of black children in Philadelphia. It broke my heart when I heard of the extreme hardship and trauma they endured everyday. Some of which I could identify with myself as a black child of a low income family in a major city. Mike subsequently invited me to volunteer at his job, The Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence. A shelter for families displaced from their homes. In this shelter lives numerous black children who have witness or experienced first hand more traumatic experiences than their peers of other races. With that in mind I decided to dedicate myself to the advancement of Philadelphia's black youth. I wanted to be a positive influence on them and show them that even though you or your family live under the poverty line; your parent(s) aren't employed; you aren't even a teenager but you're taking on the great responsibility of raising your younger siblings; you can still prosper and not become a statistic.

I volunteer because I must. Because if it wasn't for volunteering and community service I wouldn't be in the position that I am in now. Based upon the conditions that I grew up in and statistics, I don't belong at the University of the Arts nor do I belong in any other higher education institution; yet I beat the odds so did all of my siblings and I want to past that blessing along. I WILL PASS THAT BLESSING ALONG! 

Robert Glasper f.Lalah Hathaway & Malcolm Jamal Warner

(This is a song that I think encompasses my reason for volunteering. I invite you to listening)