Youth Forward Scholarship Summer 2017 – Hunger and Homelessness in San Francisco

Name: Nathaniel Dejan
From: San Francisco, San Jose, CA
Grade: Junior (2017-2018 College Freshman)
School: St. Ignatius College Prep, San Jose State University
Votes: 0

Hunger
and Homelessness in San Francisco

I began to volunteer at the San Francisco Food Bank to finish my high
school’s 100 hour community service requirement. I packaged food,
sorted items, and learned about food insecurity in the Bay Area. I
was intrigued at how many people in the richest city in America, San
Francisco, go to bed hungry. I wanted to learn more and decided to go
back a few more times. At every visit I learned something new, but
questioned if my work made a difference.

During sophomore year, I went to volunteer at St. Anthony’s Soup Kitchen
in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. To my surprise, the food
that I packaged and sorted at the San Francisco Food Bank was being
served at St. Anthony’s. It was touching to see families receive
the food which I helped organize a few days before. It was St.
Anthony’s where I shared a meal with families who were food
insecure and listened to their stories. I discovered how important
the work at the San Francisco Food Bank was. The experience at St.
Anthony’s opened my eyes to the impact l can have on the lives of
hundreds of families. I began to volunteer at the food bank every
week for all my four years in high school. I no longer had a
requirement to fulfill, but developed a void in my heart that was
filled when I worked with and for others.

I wanted to do more and during my junior year, I joined a group of
students that made and delivered sandwiches to the Tenderloin
community every Thursday morning before school. Volunteering became a
passion and the people I met became my friends. For my senior year, I
continued to volunteer at the food bank, deliver sandwiches in the
Tenderloin, and lead fundraisers and events; however I wanted to do
more. I did not want to simply focus on the immediate problem, but
combat the system of inequity. During my senior year, I became the
president of a council of service clubs at my school and I traveled
to Washington D.C. to speak to my legislators about the problems we
face in our community. Looking at this problem from a personal
relationship with my community to a conversation with my legislators
about the structures that are in play motivates me to continue the
work. As I look back on my journey, I realize that this all started
with a service requirement and transformed into a passion I hope to
continue for the rest of my life. I’ve volunteered over 460 hours
at the San Francisco Food Bank over my four years in high school and
have totalled over 900 hours from other organizations such as Habitat
for Humanity and the Janet Pomeroy Center. Every moment I spend
volunteering moves my community closer to ending hunger, poverty, and
homelessness. Volunteering not only directly supports my community,
but has also broadened my perspective and continues to challenge me
to grow as a person for others.


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