This past June, I was able to attend “United World Week 2019: No One In Need.” While the event itself was spectacular, the biggest question is always, “How can I take this back home?”
Celsea Tibbitt, another youth member of the Focolare, whom I have known since childhood, answered this question for me. I learned that she had started her own initiative to prepare every weekend nutritious meals for people who are homeless in Boston. She was always looking for donations and volunteers to help her. I was really excited to join her next date!
Upon arriving to her apartment, I was immediately inspired by what I saw Market Sharing to be. Celsea had bought fresh produce from the farmer’s market, and in the kitchen were 10–15 of her friends chopping vegetables, baking quiches, and packing food into trays. It was a team effort, where the devotion and passion was contagious. Although we made a big mess in Celsea’s apartment, she had the biggest grin on her face the entire time. She truly exhibited the “live to give” motto.
I was not able to join the group to distribute the food that week, but the following week I returned with a friend of mine. Together we prepared and wrapped 200 vegetable burritos. At one point, someone mentioned that it was Celsea’s birthday. It was so beautiful to see Celsea’s joy spending six hours preparing and distributing food for people in need on her birthday.
We drove to a street near a shelter, and I was shocked: I had no idea that there was an entire alley where hundreds of people who are homeless congregate and sleep. We pulled over, took out the boxes of food, and waited for people to approach us.
Every person who came up to us expressed extreme gratitude, and several of them came back to tell us that the burrito was delicious! They asked us all sorts of questions. Who are we? Why are we doing this? Some of them wanted to have a conversation, and some of them wanted to grab some food and be on their way. They’re not too different from us, after all, and I felt renewed by the human connections.
I have told myself many times that I would prefer feeding people who are homeless rather than giving them money directly, but it occurred to me that, for a long time, I had been doing neither. There is always a way to help, and it can start in your very own kitchen — we prepared the healthy food for only $1-2 per meal.
- Joanna Saikali, Boston