Washington DC ABST Day 6:

Our final full day in DC was a busy one for sure. After enjoying waffles, bacon and sausage gravy made by the one and only Russell, we headed off to the Smithsonian National Zoo. We rode the metro for the first time and met one of the staff and several of the men from the Father McKenna Center at the zoo. One brave soul, William, hung with us while we walked around the zoo – we entertained him more than the animals did! We had such great conversations with him, and he truly seemed to appreciate the time with us as much as we did being with him! Highlights of the zoo included seeing panda bears, playing leaf tag and “playing” catch with a sea lion. The zoo was beautiful, and a great time was had by all!

On our way back to the Father McKenna Center, we stopped and had a few photos developed for the staff at the center. We had taken a selfie with William and printed that, too. As luck would have it, we ran into him as we approached the center. When Elizabeth presented the picture to him, he was so humbled and appreciative of it. It was such a special moment for all of us.

After lunch, we had the opportunity to sit down with Cortez, one of the case managers and the heart of the Father McKenna Center, to hear his incredible story and how he came to know Father Horace McKenna. Cortez is such an amazing person and is a true inspiration to the men who come here. Hearing about the situations he experienced and the challenges he has overcome was a true testament to his strength and determination and is the reason why the men who come here respect him so much. We shared our thoughts on this experience with Cortez and Emily, the coordinator of the service here, and reflected on our time. There was so much we all gained by being here, including seeing beyond the stigma of homelessness to hearing the inspiring stories the men shared with us. To say this has left an impact on all of us would be an understatement!

After bidding our good-byes to the amazing staff, we went to the Air and Space Museum. Although we were exhausted and overloaded from all that we have experienced this week, we were able to enjoy our visit and saw some pretty cool things. We did our reflection in the grass on the Mall, with the Capitol and the Washington Monument in our view which was really cool! Just sitting there and thinking about this week and all we have done, all of those that we have met, and all the laughs we have shared was overwhelming. We will all be returning a lot wiser and with a new appreciation for individuals who are experiencing housing insecurity! So, the next time you see someone who is homeless, don’t judge them. Look at them first as an individual and know they more than likely have a pretty amazing story somewhere in there. DC ABST signing off…

All the best,

Team  D.C.