As a senior leader, volunteer, and Board Member of We Are Family, I have worked alongside Mark, Tulin, and all of We Are Family’s amazing volunteers for the past 8 years. If you have ever volunteered with the Columbia Heights delivery, you may recognize me as one of the seniors who helps organize the delivery.
Throughout this time, it has always been clear that We Are Family is an incredibly important lifeline for my neighbors in the Kelsey Apartments, as it is for hundreds of other lonely, low-income seniors.
As a young man, I came to DC to find work not long before the 1968 riots after Dr. Martin Luther King was shot. I remember those days and the anger and grief we all felt when Dr. King was killed, and then Robert Kennedy so soon afterward. DC has changed a lot since my early days in the area, but one thing has not: my sense that, like MLK and RFK, we are on this earth to be of service to others.
When I moved into Kelsey Apartments in Columbia Heights in 2006, I was so moved by the work We Are Family did with the folks in my building that I wanted to join in the efforts. My desire to help those in need came from the foundation I gained in my church during my youth in Columbus, OH. I felt like helping out with We Are Family’s monthly grocery delivery to my building was one way to do that.
Through this work with We Are Family, I have gotten to know many of my neighbors, and become their friend. I am now someone that many of them turn to when they need help — and this is what We Are Family is all about, looking after one another.
Not only do I help out each month, but I have also recruited many of my neighbors to help out with the deliveries, so that each month we have a representative from each floor that leads the other volunteers through the delivery. And when we needed some extra volunteers to help out with the Thanksgiving deliveries one fall in nearby senior buildings, we Kelsey residents stepped up to help out. I could see the pride that folks felt, to pitching in and helping out, and I felt it myself. For We Are Family, seniors still have much to give, despite our challenges. Sometimes being able to give is more important than receiving… it makes you feel alive!
I am proud to be part of the We Are Family community. It not only provides food for seniors when they are about to run out of it at the end of the month, but it provides transportation for shopping, voting, and city council hearings, among many other things. Most importantly, We Are Family builds caring community around our seniors, so they don’t feel forgotten or alone.