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A Kitchen Full of Hope and Hearts


Photo courtesy of: Miriam's Kitchen

Last week, I dropped off some used books to Miriam's Kitchen. First thought, why would a kitchen request used books? But Miriam's Kitchen, located in the basement of the Western Presbyterian Church in NW Washington, is more than just a kitchen. It's a refuge, a learning center a library AND it's a place for DCs 6,000 homeless men and women to eat healthy meals prepared by a slew of devoted and loving volunteers.

After dropping my books off, I met Steve Badt, Director of Kitchen Operations and Volunteer Services. As soon as I stepped into the kitchen, Steve was ready to put me to work. "There's your apron," he said. Little did Steve know that I can barely boil an egg and have no idea what it is to julienne anything. I smiled and made a commitment to return to Miriam's Kitchen during AARP's internal Day of Service in September.

Steve eagerly told me about the operation, and with a volunteer preparing that evening's meal a few feet away, my mouth watered as he described the dinner menu: Stir-fry with tofu and rice, tomato-basil parmesan bruschetta, cucumber salad, and fruit smoothies. "It's all fresh, all healthy," said Steve. The large red tomatoes before me were donated from one of the many local farmers markets and the mushrooms from Whole Foods. "If someone drops off a box of donuts, I'm throwing it in the trash," he said. "Our clients eat healthy."

As night sets in, the number of clients choosing to eat that healthy meal dwindles. "It's eat healthy or sleep in a bed," said Steve.

I left the church, happy that someone will read the books I enjoyed, happy to know that some of DC's homeless are eating healthy meals, obtaining basic necessities (like clean clothes and toiletries), and learning new things (they were in the middle of English class when I was there). I'm happy they are getting housing and employment assistance, medical care and classes on daily life.

I can't wait to put that apron on September 14th and volunteer. I wonder if they'll give me a quick how-to class on the way to properly slice a tomato.

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