Within my short time working at St. Matthew’s Maryland Community Ministry. I can say with complete confidence that the relationships I’ve established and maintain have to easily be one of the most, if not, the most transformative experiences of my life.
Growing up as an indigenous child, I was affected by transgenerational trauma and faced a variety of common issues that you see today, poverty, substance abuse, addiction, neglect, domestic abuse and many other things that a child, let alone anybody should have to experience. This caused me to be quite a shut-in, effectively stunting my communication and interpersonal skills and most of all my emotional development.
Overtime things started to look better, I was placed within a safe and stable home, I began making friends and meaningful relationships. Suddenly I’m an adult and things are going pretty decently, I managed to grow up normally like ‘everybody else’. At least, that’s what I had thought.
My first few days at St Matthew’s Maryland Community Ministry were nothing too special, nervous, jittery excitement for my first job. Everyday, when the greater hand of the clock reached the half-way mark on the six; it was time to open. Dozens of members of the community would flood in through the large wooden door of STMMCM and gather within our drop-in space where they would enjoy whatever lunch we were offering and socialize within and between tables. I thought nothing special of this until I had begun to notice that many of the staff and volunteers would also be spread throughout the drop-in sitting at these tables, practically indistinguishable from anyone else.
And upon further curiosity, I found that these people were having conversations that had nothing to do with each other. I thought, why would you make an effort to see how somebody’s doing when you had just checked up on them the other day?
It wasn’t until around then that I started to realize what was going on.
One day, in-between summer programming. I was given the opportunity to sit down and chat at a table with another volunteer and some guests, It was at first uncomfortable. I probably didn’t even say a word, but listening to this discussion about nothing in particular, I quickly realized It’s not weird to be making an effort to see how somebody’s doing. Given the opportunity, I would check up on my friend? It’s not weird for staff and volunteers to be actively engaging and listening to guests in the same sense it’s not weird for friends to have a conversation. You aren’t required to eat lunch at the drop-in, you’re more than welcome to take it to go.
People were coming here for something greater than food.
The guests within our drop-in aren’t ‘just’ homeless people, or people who have nowhere to go, or people who just need food. These are people who have lives that are just as amazingly unique and special as mine or anyone walking down the street. I had not made the effort to listen and left the power to assumption. Something that is only as weak or strong as you allow your mind to perceive it as.
From that moment, I made the decision to always ask rather than assume and just listen. Thanks to that decision, I have not only been able to listen, but I’ve also changed my own world doing so by opening myself up to others.
As someone who was once underloved, I can say with certainty that the love you find at 1JustCity is incredible and possibly even life changing, I couldn’t imagine how it would affect anyone else.
Written by Jaden Sinclair Program Assistant