The following article was written by Rick Rose, Scoutmaster for Republic Boy Scout Troup #61 and published in the Ferry County View Extra early in March 2017. In this article, the Scouts share some very special reflections and realizations from a recent visit to House of Charity.
The troop was very busy during the month of February. We had several meetings, and the Scouts finished another Eagle-required merit badge, Family Life. The Scouts traveled to Spokane for some volunteer work as well as a night out at the Spokane Chiefs-Tri Cities hockey game.
The troop got up at 5 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11 and we traveled to Spokane to volunteer four hours to help prepare and serve food at the House of Charity.
The House of Charity is a center that helps provide service for the homeless and people needing help in Spokane. The boys learned that the charity house does not turn anybody away regardless of race, religion or sexuality. The boys also learned about how some people become homeless. Sometimes it is not by choice, drugs or getting out of jail or prison. Sometimes it is just bad luck.
The center offers two meals daily as well as the services of showers, barber, mail room, medical outreach clinic and an emergency sleeping program that is sleeping approximately 200 to 500 people nightly during the winter months. Troop #61 learned about the full operations it takes to run a service kitchen as well as health, safety and hygiene being a top priority every minute with the ongoing outbreaks of the Norovirus.
The Scouts learned about how food is brought in to the shelter and stored, and learned where it comes from: many businesses donate food for the program. The Scouts served around 185 lunch meals and then helped in some cleanup afterward.
“We went to the homeless shelter in Spokane, Washington on Feb. 11,” said Riley Rose. “When I walked inside I noticed a lot of people lying down and waiting for lunch. We had to go around to the back and before we went inside we had to wipe our feet on a towel that was soaked in bleach to try to keep the flu out of the kitchen. When we got inside, we had to sign in as visitors. Then we got a tour of the kitchen. The chef told us that some stores had food that was going to be bad in a week so they gave it to the shelter for the homeless.
Something I learned was that we have life way better than them and we get a bed to sleep in at night and get blankets to sleep with. We are lucky we get shoes now and then but they can’t afford to have a lot of shoes or clean clothes. Going there made me realize how fortunate we really are. A guy asked me if I had gone to a ghost town in downtown Seattle, Washington and I said ‘No’ but he said he has been there nine times in his life.”
“As you walk into the front entrance, people are sitting and lying on the floor, and you can’t help but feel an instant selfworthiness,” said Mark McGaffey. “You realize how good you have it with a house, food, a family. Most of these people that are sleeping on the floor and changing in front of people haven’t had that in years. As for the staff, they are the most selfless people I’ve met in a long time. It made me know that there are still good people in this world.”
“I went to the House of Charity to prepare and serve food to the homeless,” said Kaleb Byington. “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity for this experience. It has made me appreciate my life and the people I have around me. I realize I may have a wonderful life and there are people out there that struggle to survive. While I was serving one of the homeless ladies at the shelter she quoted the Boy Scout motto and salute. I wondered how she would know that, and then I realized that at some point in her life she must have had a boy in Boy Scouts and that her life must have taken a drastic turn. I lan to return to the shelter and volunteer more of my time to make a difference in someone else’s life.”
“What I got out of the House of Charity Homeless shelter would probably be to never think you will always be ok in the world and this would not ever happen to you,” said Ryan Rose. “Some of the people there used to have big houses and had fast cars but that could all change in a flash of your eyes. I also realized don’t be picky or not happy with what you get because any of these homeless people would love to have anything close to what I have. Something else I noticed was that you should be happy no matter what happens and that the little things aren’t actually that bad and at least not as bad as what they are going through. As one of the people came across the food line, she looked into one of my fellow Scouts’ eyes and said ‘Put a smile on your face. You never know, you could end up on this side of the line.’ That was the most realistic and meaningful thing I have ever heard. I could not look at any of the homeless people without feeling a deep sorrow of pain for them. I first thought, ‘Well, these people don’t have it that bad. They get free food and a place to stay.’ But as soon as the food line doors opened and I saw all of their faces, I realized how well I have it and that none of them wanted it. I am sure that they would love to have a car and a house with a good job. When you see what they are living like it just makes you think more about what you’re doing with your life and how well you really have it.”
As a Scoutmaster and a parent, I have a lot of respect for these young men and what they have accomplished in this latest journey in their life and as Scouts.
Next month, we will report on Republic Troop #61 volunteer work with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, helping feed the winter elk herds at two feeding stations.
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