Hello all! As today is Christmas, I wanted to take a moment to express gratitude for my life situation right now and how the people who run this organization have helped me fully appreciate it.
I came from Illinois, by way of Massachusetts, and have always lived in the most comfortable kind of environment one can imagine. When I moved to California in March of 2019, I didn’t think I was going to get as involved with the houseless crisis as I have, but I couldn’t be happier for it. Moving to Fremont (due to getting a job in Fremont), I planned on continuing helping as I had before, volunteering at food banks and Habitat for Humanity when I could. I never expected to find a group like Renegade Feedings to really demonstrate what I, as a white man with every privilege, could do to help my unhoused neighbors.
Shortly after I started helping with RF, I heard of a job opening with the Fremont Winter Shelter and saw it as a great opportunity to continue helping and get paid, too. My shifts are 7 hours and only a couple days of the week, but the work I’ve seen there has been even more of an inspiration. Volunteers come in there every day to serve food or hand out supplies, and it’s always heartening to see new faces come through. It has provided me a clear view of the level of houselessness in my city and shown there are some genuinely good souls here who want nothing more than to help ease the suffering of their fellow humans.
I come home every night from my shift at the shelter even more grateful for the warm, cozy apartment I have (despite not being able to pay rent right now), the friends I’ve made through both RF and my amazing girlfriend, and always realizing that I am in the best of all possible situations. I have a roof over my head, food when I need it, and the safety that comes with knowing I am sleeping being locked doors every night. I think of all those who do not have that comfort a lot and can always access that to remain grateful for the many benefits my situation has to me right now, despite being unemployed since September.
But beyond that, I have Renegade in my life to constantly remind me that there are people who actually care, who want to make a difference in their community and not just get by. They want to use their privilege and enthusiasm to help as many people as they can, and that fact that they’re all in their 20s, choosing to spend their free time helping their community rather than being apathetic and slacking off (like I did in my 20s) is a constant source of inspiration.
Paul & Justin took the idea that they would do a lot more good for the world if they did something, rather than complain and worry about it. That idea has led to the creation of this awesome organization that is dedicated to not just feeding the unhoused but talking to them, finding out what they need for them to be as comfortable as possible. They’ve organized a group of like-minded souls, of which I am proud to count myself among, who go out every other week and have discussions with them, get their viewpoints, let them know they’re heard and understood.
I would imagine this is one of the most wonderful feeling for a person who has felt neglected, ignored, and even hated by society in general. I can’t convey what it means to me to be part of this, to make these people feel loved and needed. And I can’t thank Renegade Feedings enough for allowing me to help on the level I am now and know we’ll keep this going into 2021 and far beyond…
At least until our government gets that people do better when they’re lifted up, not kept down, and we can find another societal need that we can address… may it be so!