Schweitzer Fellows Molly Cook, Anh Lam, Kingsley Jie Yang, and Jacqueline Su-Yuo spread a little love and warmth on Valentine’s Day this past February, handing out socks, undershirts, sweaters, blankets, hygiene products, and granola bars to people experiencing homelessness in Downtown Boston.
In what has been a particularly dangerous winter season for the City’s growing homeless population, the Fellows hoped to meet some of the basic daily needs of a population vulnerable in a multitude of social determinants of health—including economic instability, poor socioeconomic conditions, lack of education, lack of social support, social inequality, lack of access to health care, and lack of access to quality housing.The Fellows spent four hours approaching the many men and women in the neighborhood who spend their days panhandling and seeking other assistance to survive on the streets around the Park Street T station.
The need was clear, as one man experiencing homelessness who accepted some of the items told them, “There are probably more people who need to be warmed around the corner.”
Because of the wintry weather, the group found it more difficult than expected to give away all of their supplies. To ensure their remaining items were put to good use, they donated them to Kingston House, a nearby homeless shelter, just as many men were checking in for the night.
As Albert Schweitzer once said, “Wherever a man turns, he can find someone who needs him,”—and the group acknowledged they couldn’t possibly provide comfort and warmth to every person struggling with homelessness in Boston.
But Schweitzer also wisely said, “Seek always to do some good somewhere”—and that is exactly what the Fellows did. They are hopeful that their effort made some impact—even if it was a small one—on the community of homeless people in Downtown Boston on that snowy Valentine’s Day.