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The mission of Loaves and Fishes' "Table Volunteers" program is to promote social consciousness, community awareness, and involvement. This program seeks to improve the lives of those living in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington DC by developing substantive relationships with the unique individuals that make up the Loaves & Fishes guest community and to obtain an understanding of guests' needs, concerns, and common impediments to overcoming them. When appropriate, it is expected that the "Table Volunteer" will provide information to those who may benefit from certain resources (ie. Identification services, Job training, Shelter, Substance Abuse Treatment etc.) and assist them in overcoming relevant obstacles.
In mid-October, St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church's soup kitchen "Loaves and Fishes" will launch a new kind of volunteer program, what it calls "Table Volunteers". At each meal, teams of six to eight trained volunteers will join the diners: sitting, eating and talking with the guests. As trust builds and the table volunteers become integrated into the weekly Loaves and Fishes experience, the volunteers will learn more about the people they have come to know. Most importantly, they will learn what the guests feel are their most significant needs and concerns as well as what types of barriers have hindered them from addressing these issues. Equipped with a comprehensive understanding of the various services available to those in need, the volunteers will then be able to assist the guests by offering information about the services most relevant to their needs and assist as necessary (and desired) in making the connection between guest and service.
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