Our engineering class recently got the amazing opportunity to take a Community First tour. Community First is a charity organization dedicated to helping chronically homeless people in the area, get back on their feet. The founders of this organization firmly believe in the phrase, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” This can be seen throughout Community First by the way that the chronically homeless are able to get a job, get the food they need, pay rent on houses provided through Community First, allowing them to live in a peaceful and loving community.
In the Community First community that our class visited, there was not only a large thriving garden (allowing the community to have a source of produce), but also a large chicken coop (providing the community with farm fresh eggs and meat), as well as a koi pond (also able to provide meat). This small community, although far from being fully self-sufficient, is able to provide not only food for the chronically homeless that live in Community First, but it also provides them with a sense of purpose.
To understand why Community First is so healing you first have to understand the type of people Community First is helping out. Community First assists specifically chronically homeless people. To be considered chronically homeless one has to be single (as in without a spouse or children), have a mental disorder of some kind preventing them from doing normal retail jobs (i.e. ADHD), and one must have been under these circumstances for a minimum of 3 full years. This means that the people Community First is assisting generally have a lower self-worth and feel almost as if they can do nothing. That’s where the agriculture of Community First comes into place. Community First allows the once chronically homeless, have an opportunity to take care of and nurture another living thing. This nurtures the person themselves as well as the plant because it builds up the self-esteem of the nurturer by showing them not only can they take care of themselves and something else, but it also shows to them that they can be successful, and that they are worth something, which are both feelings every human being should feel at one point or another. That is one of the many reasons why our trip to Community First was so amazing. –Amelia Fisher
You can learn more about Community First at their website: http://mlf.org/community-first/