Taking a Seat at Shepherd’s Table
By Alison Klein | February 24, 2016
The nonprofit is just a five-minute walk from our new digs in downtown Silver Spring. Since 1983, Shepherd’s Table has helped members of our community who are homeless or in need by providing services like meals, clothing, mail services, prescription assistance, vision care, and more.
Last Friday I embarked on the five-minute walk to meet Senior Development Associate Scott Davison and learn more about how Shepherd’s Table supports our community.
No Questions Asked
To date, Shepherd’s Table has served over 1.5 million meals. They haven’t missed a single day since they opened in 1983, even in the face of snow storms like the blizzard of ‘96. When people come to Shepherd’s Table, there’s no qualification or questioning – everyone who shows up gets a nutritious, yummy meal.
Scott told me that although grant administrators prefer that nonprofits verify the financial status of those they serve, Shepherd’s Table has never done so. As Scott put it, “No one wants to say ‘Yeah, I’m homeless. Yes, I really don’t have money for food.’ It’s about respecting the dignity of the people we serve.”
Indoors And On Floors
Shepherd’s Table also respects that dignity by taking its clients’ needs seriously. Instead of dismissing concerns that don’t fall directly in the realm of their services, the nonprofit uses available resources to be as helpful as possible.
For instance, although Shepherd’s Table is not a homeless shelter, it does allow those without homes to sleep inside its facility during the winter months. Another nonprofit, Community Vision, manages the space to operate an overflow shelter. Scott told me that sometimes when he leaves in the evening, the entire foyer area and dining hall are full of sleeping bags. The determination to do good even in the off hours proves Shepherd’s Table’s deep commitment to its clients and their needs.
Seven Days A Week
In one instance, the Board of Directors brought in their most tenured staff member, Thierry, and asked him “What’s the one thing that our clients most need?”
Thierry answered “A meal during the day on the weekends.” The board approved the motion in record time. No one said “We don’t have the capacity” or “We don’t do weekends.” Once the need was identified, the board committed to filling it and then figured out how it could be done.
Ever since they started serving weekend brunches, Shepherd’s Table hasn’t missed a single Saturday, Sunday, or holiday. Sometimes, it’s the only thing their clients have to eat. Families that rely on reduced-price or free lunches from school during the week are especially grateful for the weekend service.
After meeting with Scott, I am even more excited that RoundPeg will be donating 1% of our 2015 profits to Shepherd’s Table and volunteering there throughout 2016. The organization’s commitment to upholding the dignity of its clients and honestly striving to meet their needs is a mission that the rest of the Pegs and I can really get behind!
Stay posted to hear more about our experiences at Shepherd’s Table. Please let me know if you want to join us in volunteering or check out the variety of available volunteer opportunities on your own!