Sep 10, 2020

A Volunteer's Perspective: Jan Weetjens

Meal Recipient at Beyond the Table
Meal Recipient at Beyond the Table

For this report, we will share a perspective from Jan Weetjens, a regular volunteer in our Resource Center and meal programs. We spoke with Jan in July, as he has been coming in regularly to volunteer, despite COVID-19 concerns. we are grateful for him and others that have continued coming in to serve. 

Jan retired from the World Bank, with field experience in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia. As he searched for volunteer opportunities close to home, he found Shepherd’s Table and connected strongly with its mission. What he likes most about Shepherd’s Table is that “People are treated like customers. It’s a small thing but very meaningful to me: whenever possible, people are offered with a choice: do you prefer the chicken or the beef? This deodorant or that one? It validates the person, their dignity, their agency, and their right to choose.

When he’s not volunteering, Jan keeps busy with leadership and life coaching, and also studies and meditates. He enjoys being part of a team that tries to make a difference for people who find themselves in situations of hardship. He appreciates it when he can relate to somebody in their mother tongue, and is moved by all the acts of kindness he sees when volunteering at Shepherd’s Table.

He enjoys seeing people take care of each other, including a couple that just got engaged. “It’s beautiful to witness that.”

Jan has continued volunteering throughout COVID-19, as he knows the need is there, and feels safe due to the serious approach Shepherd’s Table has taken to mitigating the risk for everyone. He enjoys meeting people from all different backgrounds and ages and experiences, volunteers and clients alike. “It is one of the joys of working at Shepherd’s Table.” He believes that Shepherd’s Table strives for excellence, and really sees the person and their needs: how can we be as responsive, caring and loving as possible to this person?

I get so much out of being able to connect with people. My own humanity gets affirmed when I’m here.” 

We thank all our dedicated volunteers who have made sure all our services continue during this challanging time for everyone, especially those we serve daily. As we expand our services to feed even more people, we know we couldn't do it without the incredible support we have in the community. 

We hope you are all staying safe and healthy!

In Gratitude,


May 14, 2020

Our Meals Must Go On!

In response to the challenging times we are living in, Shepherd's Table is committed to remain open, while taking extra precautions to minimize virus transmission. As we have done for 36+ years, we have remained open every single day, to provide basic services like meals, mail, prescription medicine, toiletires and more. While our clothes closet and eye clinic have closed temporarily, we continue to serve hot meals in "to-go" boxes twice a day and provide services in our Resource Center. Our meal services are greatly appreciated, as meal guests express their gratitude every day. 

Having transitioned to the to go meals handed out just outside our building on March 16th, we have continued to adapt the process to make it safer for staff, clients, volunteers and donors that have provided in-kind suport to supplement our meals. We rented tents to provide shelter when it rains, solicited in-kind donations of sandwiches and desserts (home made cookies, brownies, and other treats) that supplement the balanced and nutritious meals we serve. Our staff has doubled down on their dedication to serve, and luckily, we are all safe and healthy. 

We still get the support of a few volunteers per meal service, to serve an average of 350 meals per day, and are so grateful for the community support that enables us to continue serving. Our County has seen a continual rise in cases, and with our proximity to DC, Coronavirus transmission is still a concern for everyone. Our goal is support our most vulnerable populations, many of whom don't have homes, families to care for them, or jobs to provide income. We will continue to remain open as the number of people in need increase. We are a grassroots community-based organization, and will do what we can to support everyone that seeks our assistance.

We have risen to meet the need of communities around us that cannot come pick up meals, such as seniors who can't leave their house, and a neighborhood in DC that was in dire need of meals. We packaged meals every day, that are delivered to them, and are grateful to be of service to everyone that is hungry or food insecure.

Everyday, since we pivoted our programs in response to COVID-19, we are reminded of our commitment as an organization: Together Meteing Needs, Changing Lives.

We cannot do this alone- THANK YOU for your support, whether you give monthly, occassionally, or one-time. It is all appreciated! 

Stay safe, and take care of yourselves, especially as the Country starts to re-open.

Jan 15, 2020

In the Spirit of the holidays

Our ED, Manny Hidalgo with Benjamin
Our ED, Manny Hidalgo with Benjamin

2019 was a very busy year...with some leadership changes, new challenges in the County that led to more people accessing services at Shepherd's Table, and a strong desire to have impact on the lives we are honored to serve every day.

During the holidays, we see the best of our community, and do our part to send the positivity back out to those we serve.

On Christmas Day, when other programs were closed, we served our usual brunch and dinner meals. A few days prior, we decided to open up the dining room in between the meals on Christmas Day, for the meal guests that had no place to go.

We opened up the dining room from 12-4pm, for a relaxed afternoon, with a holiday movie on TV, and hot chocolate, coffee and cookies available for snacking. We set up the dining room for about 60, but as the afternoon went on, the dining room filled up beyond that.

Guests chatted with friends, watched the movie, and relaxed a bit, in no rush to leave. Some stayed for an hour or two, and others stayed the entire time. The small act of opening up the dining room (that we had also done on Thanksgiving Day) had a big impact in making the day a little less stressful, and more enjoyable, for all.

The afternoon was a reminder of what the holidays are about...each of our ability to be kind, generous and supportive of others, whether they are family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, or strangers.

We THANK YOU for being a part of Shepherd's Table's family...with your partnership, we can be kind, generous and supportive every day!

We look forward to continuing to serve in 2020, and can't wait to share the ways we will be making a greater impact this year!

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