The Sacred Heart Dinner Program has helped me get my life back on track.
Meet Javier. Javier was born in Panama and came to the United States with his mother when he was two years old. After attending Raymond Elementary School, Lincoln Middle School and Cardozo High School, Javier dropped out of college because of drug use. However, he is attending a rehabilitation program to help his addiction and make himself a better person. Javier has worked at KFC, a construction company, Sports Zone, and as an animal worker for the NIH in Bethesda. When asked how volunteers can best help him, Javier said volunteers can help by inspiring others and getting others lives on track. He also wants us to help others manage the money they have. He has been coming to the Sacred Heart Dinner Program for almost six months and it has helped him get on track for his life. He said that the Sacred Heart Dinner Program is a great place for people who are homeless and non-violent because the people who work at the program provide people with food and a safe place to eat.
— Javier, 07/31/2017
I cannot afford to buy food
Meet Blanca. Blanca is a 40-year old mother of two. She was born in El Salvador and moved to America four years ago to be with her husband. She visits Sacred Heart regularly since she cannot afford to buy food. Blanca tries hard to provide for her children, which is difficult because she does not have a job. Blanca is unable to work because of a tragic accident that left her with an injured spine, making it hard for her to walk without a cane. Even without a job, Blanca is determined to give a better life for her children. Her son is currently attending American University on a scholarship and lives on campus. When asked, Blanca told us that the best way to help the Dinner Program is to donate money. She said she has nothing, which is especially hard since she needs expensive medicine to help with her spine as well as to help her with panic attacks. She also says that she needs people to donate warmer clothes for the winter and a shelter to stay at.
— Blanca, 04/01/2017
This is the only place I go.
Kiolio has been attending the dinner program at Sacred Heart on and off for about three months. He says he likes coming to the program because, “It helps keep my mind straight and focused. It’s really helped me a lot since I’ve been here. I don’t have a home, no bed to sleep in. I come in and out. This is the only place I go. I used to live in northwest, I call this home.” He also notes that he is impressed with the quality of food offered. “The dinner has been great. I’ve even put a couple pounds on,” he adds smiling. In discussing the challenges he currently faces, he suggested that if Sacred Heart were to expand their activities, he’d like to see more action on issues of housing, perhaps by directly providing clients with transitional housing. “Food isn’t the biggest problem,” he states. “Lots of the people here can buy food. Food is cheap. But housing is hard to come by. The problem is where you’re going to lay your head. I went to a shelter, but it was full. People need better options.
— Kiolio, 01/01/2016
It helps to have a place to go.
Terrell has been unemployed for five months. Before losing his job, he spent 20 years working in DC schools as a high school chemistry and physics teacher. Once he became unemployed, Terrell began a daily routine of heading to the local public library each morning to search and apply for jobs online. He recently received certification as a substitute teacher in the DC area and a folder fat with completed applications testifies to his continued efforts. He is determined to once again find work as a teacher. He explains, “I love teaching. It’s killing me not to be in a classroom. It’s really killing me.” Since losing his job, he has received unemployment benefits, but they are insufficient to meet his basic expenses and he is now facing eviction from his apartment. He reports receiving only $16 per month in food stamps, which works out to approximately 15 cents a day. After a long day of applying to jobs, Terrell comes home to an empty apartment and all too often an empty pantry. He looks forward to attending the dinner program at Sacred Heart because, “Coming here gives me a chance to get out of the house, to interact with people. It helps to have a place to go.”
— Terrell, 01/01/2015
You open your doors to everyone.
Tim has been homeless for three years. He arrived in DC from Arizona, where he had spent twenty years as a swimming pool salesman. His journey here began when Jesus found him and told him to change his life. Tim currently lives in a local park year round. “I tried those shelters,” he explains. “They’re filthy and unsafe. I feel safer alone.” An avid outdoorsman who trekked numerous stretches of the Rocky Mountains in the US and Canada before he became homeless, Tim’s camping gear now helps him survive the extremes of DC weather. He gets most of his meals through Sacred Heart’s program and other food programs in the area and describes himself as truly contented with his situation. He explains that his faith has brought him to live as he does and he appreciates programs like the one here at Sacred Heart that help him continue to live as he chooses. In reflecting on the program offered at Sacred Heart, he states that he’s “pretty satisfied with everything. I see what you have to deal with here and I think you do a good job. There’s less power and control over individuals here than other programs I’ve been too. You let everyone in, allow everyone to participate. I’ve seen people who are inebriated discriminated against at other places. You open your doors to everyone.”
— Tim, 01/01/2015