Several of our employees recently walked down the street and around the corner to participate in an afternoon of volunteerism with the Boston Rescue Mission.
The Boston Rescue Mission was founded in 1899 and has since worked to provide homeless and poor individuals with the support, training, and resources necessary to sustain independent living for a lifetime. The Mission receives most of its food and funding from donations, with some other money coming from grants and state funding. They receive donations from restaurants, food banks, grocery stores, and other likeminded organizations. Last year, the Mission served more than 171,000 meals, including their weekend outreach and food pantry.
During that afternoon, we helped prep for dinner, served the guests, and cleaned up after. We worked in the kitchen where we heard the story of how the head chef was once a client at the Mission. We heard from a young man who had just been released from jail and was now a client. He was working to get back on his feet while staying clean and sober. We learned that the Mission is about more than feeding those in need; it also includes counseling and programs that help individuals who have a history of substance abuse, incarceration, and homelessness. The result yields a feeling of community that resonates throughout the building. With each story we heard it became apparent that our preconceived notions of equating hunger with homelessness were incorrect.
The Mission feeds the hungry and throughout the afternoon it became clear to us that not everyone we were helping to feed was homeless. Sometimes,the people we fed have homes, but struggle with food security. We served people who had just come from work, those who were homeless on the street, and even a student heading to class. It was eye opening to hear stories about parents who eat at the Mission so they have enough food for their children to eat at home. Food insecurity is real and rampant, and the feeling of not knowing where your next meal will come from can lead to marked anxiety and depression.
While we were volunteers at the Mission, only getting a snapshot into this reality, it definitely gave us pause and made us more mindful and appreciative of everything we have. It also made us more aware that appearances are not everything and even though you may work or live nextdoor to someone, that does not necessarily mean that they are living under the same circumstances as you. Compassion and empathy are two words that are overused and underutilized. The fact that Experian Data Quality encourages us to spend time volunteering at places like the Boston Rescue Mission allows us to become more self-aware and reflect on the different ways we can help others in both our personal and professional lives.
It is very easy to forget that rampant hunger exists within our community. We only had to walk a block and a half back to the office for the reality to come crashing back to us. The Boston Rescue Mission does amazing work in its commitment to feed those who are hungry, as well as offering programs and counseling for their clients to help them succeed independently. It is a place that promotes community and fosters growth among its clients.
When we returned to the office, a few of us found ourselves talking about the experience, trying to come to terms with our own privilege and the ways that it had been challenged. It can be hard to be faced with an experience that encourages you to take a hard look at the way hunger, homelessness, and those in need have been normalized in our society. We talked about how we were inspired by the stories we heard and how we would love the opportunity to volunteer with the Boston Rescue Mission and other similar organizations again. Compassion is often disregarded, but we see people who need help, who have less than us on a daily basis, and if we remain silent and immobile in the face of such despair, are we not complicit in perpetuating those societal norms? When we see areas where we can help, we should reach out and do what we can because sometimes all it takes is one afternoon, one meal served, to help someone make it through the day. It is small acts of kindness that can mean the most. Experian Data Quality allows us the opportunity to volunteer and we would be remiss to not capitalize on those chances. If you would like to join us in volunteering in the community, or know of an opportunity we should get involved with, please reach out.