At DC Central Kitchen, you’ll never hear us making sweeping generalizations about ‘the needy,’ ‘the hungry,’ or ‘the homeless.’ We won’t try to guilt you into giving your money or your time.
And you won’t see us talk about ourselves as one small charity, just trying to do a little good in the face of big, scary problems. We are up against big problems, but DCCK isn’t scared. And you shouldn’t be either.
In fact, coming down to our Kitchen should give you a greater understanding of hunger, poverty, homelessness, and poor health; and people are much less likely to fear what they understand. Put on an apron in our kitchen and start chopping. You’ll discover that the man or woman next to you was homeless, or addicted to drugs, or in prison for years on end. But today, that individual is a trained culinary professional, skilled in the kitchen and self-sufficient at home.
And while most of volunteers show up thinking they’re about to do something very selfless, many find themselves learning more about themselves, their assumptions, and their community than they ever expected. That catalytic reaction – where volunteers work alongside men and women who have changed their lives to nourish others who are in the process of doing so – is something we call ‘the calculated epiphany‘.
At DC Central Kitchen, we want to break down those old, boring, and even dangerous barriers that enclose the way we think about our neighbors in need and the nonprofits who serve them. A woman can be homeless and still be employed at a job that pays her a substandard wage. A man can commit a crime and still change his life in time to make a powerfully positive difference in his community.
A nonprofit in the basement of a homeless shelter can build a multi-million dollar social enterprise that is serving healthy school meals and fighting food deserts in ways that are unprecedented and unmatched across America. The problems we’re up against are big ones; there’s a reason politicians talk about fighting ‘wars’ on poverty, hunger, and drug addiction. But not enough people and organizations are fighting to win. DC Central Kitchen is on the front lines of these battles. Each year, volunteers donate over 35,000 hours of their time to come work with us. Will you join us?
“A Calculated Epiphany,” Bis Now, August 9, 2011