The soup kitchen that serves hope, one bowl at a time
At Shepherd's Table's first ever dinner in 1983, they served seven guests, but now, they serve over 300 people every day.
Over the past four years, Shepherd’s Table has grown to be so much more than just a soup kitchen. The grassroots organization has found a place in the heart of Silver Spring on Georgia Ave, helping the community by providing warm meals and honest services.
The Resource Center first welcomes visitors? patrons? walking into the building. It provides everything from toiletries to pro bono legal services to anyone who walks in. The center also provides a mailroom and telephones to those who need them. The mailroom serves as an address for homeless clients so that they can receive social services and checks reliably.
The Resource Center’s pro bono services guide clients in receiving services such as shelters and law firms. Tinsaw Adugna is the Social Services Program Manager and works at the center. She has been working at Shepherd’s Table for over three years and watches people come and go, improving their lives thanks to help from Shepherd’s Table. “You see that they have a sense of home here…you get to see how they become self-sufficient and they start to use their resources…it gives me hope,” Adugna says.
Shepherd’s Table’s own eye clinic is another resource available at the Resource Center, providing free eye care for clients no matter the circumstance. In the last year alone, the eye clinic has administered over 250 eye prescriptions.
Jackets, sweaters, and jeans hang from wall to wall at the Clothing Closet next door, providing much-needed cold-weather attire for the upcoming winter.
Clothing Closet full of kind donations. Photo Courtesy of Angelina Cao
The dining hall is the core of Shepherd’s Table. For the past 38 years, Shepherd’s Table has not missed a single meal, providing food three times a day every day to over 300 clients a day. Even during the pandemic, Shepherd’s Table’s Beyond the Table program continued their unbroken streak, delivering food to communities in Montgomery and Prince George’s County. Beyond the Table continues to serve up to this day with meals distributed at locations in Aspen Hill and Riverdale.
It takes hard work to serve food every day, but everyone at Shepherd’s Table works hard to guarantee daily meals for their clients. Advocacy coordinator Brenna Olson has been a part of Shepherd's Table for the past year. Every day, she witnesses and contributes to the love that is put into each and every meal, and recognizes that it’s because of the care and teamwork of the staff and volunteers that Shepherd’s Table is able to run smoothly everyday. “It takes a lot of teamwork to be able to open the kitchen every day…[and] people really genuinely do care about the clients,” Olson says.
As the Advocacy Coordinator, Olson’s roles extend to the world of Maryland legislation. She listens to clients’ needs and experiences, then drafts policies for programs promoting food security, behavioral health, affordable housing, and eviction prevention.
Outside the building, there thrives an urban garden that grows fresh produce for the chefs to incorporate into nutrient-filled meals. Some of the crops they grow include bok choy in the Spring, tomatoes in the Summer and fresh herbs all year long.
Urban Garden’s greenery contrasting downtown Silver Spring. Photo Courtesy of Angelina Cao
Shepherd’s Table is also devoted to enriching the social lives of clients and staff. The organization holds weekly events: art classes on Mondays, bingo on Thursdays, and gardening lessons on Fridays.
Olson started the art classes, creating art with clients from glitter and markers. She recounts one of her favorite memories when a client brought a special guest, Squirt, their pet turtle. While the client drew a wonderful picture of Squirt, Squirt attempted his own drawing with paint on his little turtle claws. Shepherd’s Table gave rise to two new artists that day.
Artistic renditions of Squirt the Turtle. Photo Courtesy of Angelina Cao
Olson continues to hold art classes for stories like this because of the joy it brings her and the clients. “It makes me really glad… that people can just come through and have a silly goofy time even when they might be going through really hard stuff,” she says.
Blair junior Yoan Pinsonneault volunteered at Shepherd’s Table over the past summer numerous times. Every week, he enjoyed conversing with and meeting clients while he prepared plates. “I [saw] a lot of new faces and most of them [were] extremely nice and very welcoming…it makes me happy to make other people happy,” he says.
Volunteers like Pinsonneault are the backbone of Shepherd’s Table. Although the organization has a team of dedicated staff, they have too many clients to provide for by themselves. Olson wishes that more people knew about the volunteering opportunities at Shepherd’s Table. “I would love for people to know that volunteering is actually really fun and that our clients are wonderful people,” she says.
Adugna expresses that volunteering makes a huge impact on clients, as they are grateful for everyone who contributes to Shepherd’s Table. “You see them gaining their hope back [as they know] that there are all these staff and volunteers willing to help them. It gives them…you know, a push in life,” she says.
However, if time is an issue, Shepherd’s Table accepts donations. Currently, they are looking for donations of blankets and warm clothing that can be dropped off at their address, 8106 Georgia Ave Silver Spring from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, and from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends. These donations are crucial as the temperature is starting to rapidly decrease as winter nears. Shepherd’s Table also has a wishlist of specific items that they currently need to keep their Resource Center running.
Kindness is found in every corner at Shepherd’s Table from the volunteers to the staff to the clients. It has been providing for the Silver Spring community for the past four decades, feeding, clothing, and bringing joy to thousands of people. This kindness has continued for generations and now, it is our turn to give back to Shepherd’s Table.
Angelina Cao. Hi, my name is Angelina and I am a writer! I like animation and crocheting :) More »