Making a difference: Feeding the homeless during annual outreach effort
November 6, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - For someone who eats regularly, missing a meal may be no big deal. But for one who is experiencing dire circumstances, one meal could potentially change his or her life.
This year Army Community Service teamed with the USO, Blanche M. Bruner Chapter 17 and Willie H. Dixon Military Lodge 143, and Wiesbaden Health and Dental Clinics to feed some of Wiesbaden's homeless citizens at the Teestube Homeless Shelter for Make a Difference Day Oct. 25.
"This year we're reaching out to our host nation neighbors," said Earl McFarland, ACS Volunteer Program manager. "Make A Difference Day is a national day for neighbors to help neighbors. Where there's a need, there's your neighbor."
"A lot of people in the military community came together to support a good cause," said Lakesha Davis, BMB chapter president.
For Nicolas Mueller, who visits the shelter at least once monthly, the hot meal and support at the shelter has life-giving quality. "This gives me power. They give me much energy to want to live. … It restores my strength," he said explaining that he goes to the shelter seeking social assistance for problems related to drug addiction. "Coming here gives me a future perspective. It gives me connections to other organizations."
And while efforts for the one day is the highlight, the BMB and WHD organizations have been working with the Teestube for about two years and serving food at the shelter about every third Friday a month.
Teestube social worker Kristina Wessel said the visit from the American organizations is a much-anticipated event.
"The people look forward to Fridays," she said, explaining that they serve meals at the shelter at least once a month. "They make the people feel very happy. You see them having a good time. … It's like a living room to them."
"I love to come only Fridays," said Mueller. "It is the best lunch here. It makes me very happy."
And because of such connection is why Davis said she prefers this form of charity.
"When we go and give our time, that makes it special because we fellowship and interact with the homeless. It makes them feel special because they can put a face with the action … it lets them know people care. It makes me feel more connected to the cause," she said.
George Davis, WHD lodge president, said homelessness is closer to home for him and it is a call to duty to offer support at the shelter.
"Being that I'm not in this situation, I feel it's my job to give back," he said. "I might just make their day better, who knows?"
The Teestube has been around for more than 40 years, serving as a refuge to homeless citizens of Wiesbaden. It is a 12-bed facility that also offers social work services and self-improvement programs such as culinary economics and carpentry aimed at empowering its clientele.
People come to the shelter for various reasons, she said. "We try to help step-by-step."
Individuals or organizations interested in volunteering at the shelter can contact Matthias Roehrig at (0611) 44566-12. Also visit www.diakonisches-werk-wiesbaden.de.
Contact Earl McFarland to get connected with more volunteer opportunities throughout the community at mil 335-5234/5254 or civ (0611) 4080-234/254.