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SERVING OTHERS Mickie May Levin, a freshman at St. John’s School, volunteers serving meals to homeless people through Direct Hope. Pictured with her are friends (at left) Ari Reamers and Jacob Stanietzky.
It’s common to take the things we have for granted: the shoes on our feet, the food on our tables, the roof over our heads. It’s all too easy to forget our good fortune, and for this reason, I began to volunteer at Direct Hope. Direct Hope is one of the few nonprofits in Houston that allows kids volunteer on the “front line” and serve 200 hot meals to the homeless community every weekend by Minute Maid Park.
The first time I went, I expected chaos. I was pleasantly surprised to see how polite and respectful the clients were to the volunteers serving the food. The entire feeding was an hour-long chorus of “Yes, ma’am” and “Thank you very much,” and, my personal favorite, “Y’all have a blessed day.” The experience was so inspirational that I’ve returned many times, bringing a new friend with me each time to share the experience.
It’s easy to believe the negative stereotypes that homeless people face every day – that they are dangerous, that they are all taking illegal drugs, or that their own choices are at fault for their homelessness. Direct Hope taught me that these stereotypes are often not true. It’s common to see homeless people on the way to work or school, but rarely does one get to see the smiles and kindness they may radiate.
My first Direct Hope brunch left me feeling not only fortunate, fulfilled and satisfied, but humbled. I felt sorry for ever believing that I deserved everything I wanted, and guilty for thinking that nothing was good enough for me. Volunteering here has allowed me to give back to the community and taught me to be more grateful for everything I’ve been blessed with.
Not only does the organization serve gourmet meals and distribute hundreds of snacks, beverages and other necessities to homeless citizens in Houston, volunteers also help one-on-one with life-changing assistance: resume editing, assistance getting into truck-driving school and obtaining low-income housing. By “teaching a man to fish,” Direct Hope helps people build better lives so they can get off the streets and integrate back into the community as productive citizens.
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