Yoga District community member and volunteer Alyssa shares her passion for service and experience with the DC Central Kitchen community.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”- Winston Churchill
I love volunteering. I volunteer every week at a local STD clinic and cleaning the 14th street studio. It gives me energy and a sense of connection to the community around me. I love it so much that my coworkers once gave me a set of post-it notes that said “stop me before I volunteer again.” One of my favorite volunteer activities is going to DC Central Kitchen with Yoga District. It is a wonderful opportunity to get to know the people I see every week in yoga class a little bit better. Last Sunday was the second time I participated in this quarterly service event. Both times have been enjoyable and inspiring.
The volunteer shift started with everyone trickling in and talking about what classes we take at Yoga District, our favorite teachers, studio of choice, etc. DC Central Kitchen always generously provides coffee and snacks to fuel us throughout our time there. This is always really appreciated for the morning shifts. We then checked in, watched a training video, washed our hands, put on gloves and an apron, and headed out to the kitchen for work.
My small team was responsible for organizing deliveries for the week. DC Central Kitchen delivers food to 80 partner agencies, and this is increasingly important this time of the year since some of those agencies are hypothermia shelters set up to help those in need in these freezing temperatures. Other partners include homeless shelters and recovery houses. After we organized the boxes, we started chopping celery. A weekly schedule hangs in the middle of the kitchen and outlines the food that will be prepared throughout the week. A variety of meals are provided and this week’s ranged from veggie fried rice to white bean soup. I noticed that the kitchen would need over 800 pounds of celery this week alone, so we started chopping quickly. It was a great opportunity to both speak to the yogis on my team but also practice some mindfulness that I have learned in classes at Yoga District. One of the chefs provided some helpful strategies for chopping celery efficiently and told us more about his experience with DC Central Kitchen. He explained the culinary training program that he participates in. It prepares unemployed, previously incarcerated, and homeless adults to work in the food service industry. Last year this program graduated 85 people, with a 90% job placement rate.
As we chatted and chopped celery, the rest of the volunteers diced carrots, made the soup for the next day, and assembled pies. Although we worked separately, we had great opportunities to all come together for the break and to take a picture, share our experience, and continue to connect following the shift. I then headed to one of my favorite Sunday morning classes in Columbia Heights. The class was filled with an extra sense of gratitude and connection because not only do I get to practice within the Yoga District community, I get to volunteer within it as well.