This week's guest blog comes from Katie West, a leader of the Bread of Life ministry at Westmont College. Under the guidance of Uffizi Order, Bread of Life partners with Common Ground and multiple Santa Barbara churches to provide a meal-sharing and access to housing resources to people without homes each week at Alameda Park.
My name is Katie West and I am a sophomore at Westmont College. Originally from Boise, Idaho, I definitely appreciate the warm weather all year round and living in such close proximity to the ocean!
These same reasons, however, also contribute to the large population of people experiencing homelessness in Santa Barbara. This was one of the first things I noticed when I walked on State Street for the first time. My brother was, at the time, a student at Westmont and a leader on the Bread of Life team. He explained to me what Bread of Life was, its goals, and what it did on a weekly business, and it captured my interest! I knew that when I came to Westmont I wanted to be a part of the Bread of Life team and I committed to coming to Alameda Park every week during my freshman year.
This year, I chose to be more involved and invested by becoming a member of the Bread of Life leadership team. Our focus, as Bread of Life, is shifting more from just fellowshipping with our friends on the streets to finding solutions and working towards getting more people off the streets! It is very exciting to get to be an agent of justice and see my friends get housed.
Last week we learned of two Vietnam veterans on the streets, each getting varying amounts of help from local organizations. One man just received enough money to get massive amounts of dental work while the other was receiving very limited assistance. I was interested to learn of this stark contrast in the level of help being provided for veterans. This is an example of injustice that I have experienced working with Bread of Life recently. Fortunately, there are a few recent instances of justice too. One of our friends on the streets, let’s call him Mark, had serious mental illness including schizophrenia. Mark had been “in line” for a house for a while and thanks to the staff of Uffizi Order and Common Ground working tirelessly, Mark was housed! Thanks to being housed Mark seems transformed in his actions, personality, kindness, and even the symptoms of his mental illness have been minimized. I love these moments with Bread of Life when I see justice enacted, people experiencing love, and friendships being formed!