WWU's Catholic Newman Center December Mission
Thank you to Anton Ziska, a student at WWU, for writing this blog post about his experiences distributing kits and supplies last December!
For many years now, Western Washington University’s Catholic Newman Center has been putting on a 4-day mission trip to Seattle to serve the homeless and low-income community of Seattle and encounter Christ in all whom we serve. During this “Winter Mission” as we call it, we serve in homeless shelters, assist in food banks, cook and serve warm meals, and distribute presents for hundreds of families. One new addition to our itinerary this year was the assembly and distribution of “Care Kits.” There are two types of Care Kits that we would create and hand out – one containing hygienic necessities, and another containing socks and non-perishable food items. Half of these hygienic necessities care kits would contain feminine pads so we could better approach the needs of the homeless women population of Seattle. With the help of donations from our local church community as well as donated Care Kits from Northwest Hospitality, we had enough supplies to create 100 care kits!
In Seattle we decided to focus our efforts specifically along the piers and under the highways because there is typically a higher concentration of homeless peoples in these areas at night. It was definitely difficult to encounter these people who are in such a vulnerable position especially because we knew our work would only serve a fraction of the homeless population of Seattle, and after we would return to the privilege of warmth and shelter. However, seeking out people in the streets gave us a fresh perspective and motivation to better understand the systems of homelessness and use our privilege to aid them however possible. It is so important for us to meet people where they are at, and recognize their human dignity.
We will definitely be continuing the tradition of making and distributing care kits to the homeless community for future Winter Missions. One change I could potentially see us doing, or seeking help with for future care kits are giving the option of shampoo/conditioner for African American hair, since about 30% of Seattle’s homeless population are African American, and because Afro-textured hair does not respond the same to mainstream shampoos/conditioners as other ethnicities' hairs, which we had solely been handing out.
Thanks again to Anton Ziska!
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