Between the mass shootings, hateful tweets, and pre-election year rancor there are plenty of reasons to think that kindness and compassion are at an all-time low in our country. In fact, it’s hard to turn on the news and not get a little depressed or at least angry at the alarming rise of incivility. Prior to becoming Executive Director of Shepherd’s Table last month, I would have joined the ranks of those believing that our national character was in a state of crisis but there are some places in America where kindness and compassion still reign.
Shepherd’s Table is one such place. It is a non-profit founded in Silver Spring Maryland in 1983 that provides high quality, cooked meals to the homeless and others in need on a daily basis. During breakfast, lunch and dinner – 7 days a week, 365 days a year- you will find anywhere from 100 to 150 people lined up outside Shepherd’s Table for food, fellowship and access to a resource center that provides clothing, vision care, and social services to thousands in need. Several foundations and Montgomery County Government provide annual grants to make these services possible, but the single largest source of support is individual donors. A total of 1,341 individuals gave to Shepherd’s Table in 2018 in donations ranging from $2.50 to $10,719 with 140 individuals giving $1,000 and up.
In addition, over 2,000 people volunteered at Shepherd’s Table in 2018 contributing about $1.3 million worth of in-kind labor. It is this incredible level of individual generosity toward Shepherd’s Table and thousands of other community-based non-profits that makes me optimistic that kindness and compassion are still dominant traits of our national character. We still have plenty of work to do in becoming more civil toward each other but at our nation’s core we still have a spirit of generosity and care for those in greatest need that is unique and worthy of cherishing.
By: Manny Hidalgo.