Written by Lara Fulmer, Cityteam

Poverty, it is all around us.

Recently, I saw it while shopping in a local grocery store where baby formula was locked in the case behind the customer service counter. I was puzzled to see baby formula locked up. Why? So I asked the cashier who said formula is one of the biggest items stolen from her store.  BABY FORMULA? It is heart wrenching to imagine a mother so desperate to provide for her infant that she resorts to stealing formula. I almost can‚Äôt bear to think about that kind of desperation.

I often think about what can be done to help, what can I do?  I‚Äôm just one person.  There is so much need especially here in affluent Silicon Valley. The cost of living just keeps going up, no wonder so many families are in trouble. I have the privilege of working for Cityteam, a non-profit that employs many compassionate people working very hard to help those most in need in our community. Now, we all know not everyone is wired or able to work for a non-profit like Cityteam. But, almost daily I encounter compassionate people who want to do whatever they can to help. ‚ÄúShould I give money to the person on the street,‚Äù they often ask me? No, there are definitely better ways to help. 

My response is to partner with an organization like Cityteam who has an established history of serving people in need. On Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 members from sv next did just that. This group of young professionals gave time out of their busy schedules to serve in Cityteam’s Kitchen/Dining Room. Some came right from work and were still in their professional clothing and served dinner to men, women and children living in poverty.

These young professionals offered up their time to make a difference in the lives of our homeless guests. 

People living on the streets are not accustomed to making eye contact with people, especially young professionals. Many feel forgotten and ignored. For the men and women from sv next to greet our homeless guests with a warm smile and serve a hot meal was uplifting to say the least. So much of what we do at Cityteam is about raising the level of hope for each of the lives we touch.

It often starts with a warm meal and a welcoming smile.

sv next had an even greater impact on the men in our residential recovery program, some of whom served side by side with the young professionals. Men in our program come from a broad background, some even have professional experience like that of sv next members. Or, they have aspirations to be professionals themselves after completing our program. These men, especially the younger ones, view the sv next professionals as role models. It leaves a lasting impression when they see young business leaders humbly serve a meal to those in need.

Volunteers like sv next members make it possible for Cityteam to change lives.

We serve 600 meals per day, including weekends and holidays. With only one paid staff member in our kitchen, Cityteam heavily relies on compassionate volunteers like those from sv next. Beyond serving food, there are numerous opportunities to help at Cityteam. For example, we have opportunities for professionals in our Learning and Career Centers where we provide educational and career development support to our clients. Young professionals can also volunteer at our events like our Thanksgiving Turkey and Food Box give-away at the SJ Earthquake’s AVAYA Stadium. Or, young professionals can form a team and run in our next Run4Recovery 5K/10K Fundraiser in July.

 

There is enormous need in our community and endless opportunities for each of us to make a difference in the lives of our poorest neighbors.  Anyone interested in learning more about partnering with Cityteam, click here.  For questions, please contact Lara Fulmer here.

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