Many different programs and a plethora of different interests draw Washington Center interns to Washington, D.C. But if ever there were a common thread that unites these students, it’s the desire to contribute in a city that offers opportunities for service unlike those of any other city.
On June 24, two TWC students, Kaivon Harvin-Williams and Heaven Taylor-Wynn, proved this, organizing their fellow students from various programs and career tracks to pack and deliver dozens of lunches for the homeless in the D.C. neighborhood of NoMa.
By way of introduction, Harvin-Williams and Taylor-Wynn, who are enrolled at Bowie State University and the University of Florida respectively, are interning in Washington this summer as part of the Summer Transportation Internship Program for Diverse Groups (STIPDG). Coordinated in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the program places undergraduates and graduate students in various bureaus of the department such as the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The program is designed to mentor and cultivate tomorrow's leaders, strengthen their understanding of the transportation industry and prepare them for future public service opportunities.
However, Harvin-Williams’ and Taylor-Wynn’s definition of service and leadership extended well beyond the confines of their cubicles. Taking a look around their neighborhood of NoMa (where TWC’s Residential & Academic Facility is located), they noticed that, while portions of it have undergone rapid positive change, still others were mired in poverty. As Taylor-Wynn described, “Anyone who's been in D.C. for even a short period of time will notice that there is a significant homeless population. And even more off-putting is the fact that these folks are in neighborhoods that have been gentrified over the years to make way for new, hip businesses that appeal to the Millennial generation.”
So these two Millennials, along with multiple others with whom they spoke, decided to do something about it on their own initiative. First, they created a Google Form to determine who would be joining them and what foods they would bring in order to aid in the lunch-making process. Then, they sent out word on their other various group chats with other students in the larger Washington Center community. According to Taylor-Wynn, Harvin-Williams’ local connections to Washington greatly aided their efforts, as he was able to invite several of his friends to help them.
Ultimately, they exceeded even their own expectations. Harvin-Williams and Taylor-Wynn had predetermined to make thirty lunches; they ended up distributing upwards of sixty. And so satisfying was the experience that, on the next Saturday, much of the same group assisted in preparing meals at D.C. Central Kitchen. As Taylor-Wynn movingly put it when asked to describe the experience, “It was a very fulfilling and rewarding experience. The smiles on their faces while handing out the bags of lunches was something that’s indescribable. Of course, we wish we could do more, but you know we can't save the world in a day.”
Luckily for the world, though, these two students will have many bright days ahead of them.
For more information about the STIPDG program, visit us here.