The Journey Home is a veterans’ shelter in Winchester, IN that distributes Second Harvest groceries to the community once a month. There are a number of reasons—such as pride and stigma—that veterans may be reluctant to come directly to us for assistance, so distributions like these are a vital method of getting them fed.
Giving back to those who served is clearly a top priority to those involved with Journey Home, and after speaking with some of its volunteers, it became abundantly clear that Winchester’s veterans are getting the support and respect they deserve. Janet, one of the distribution coordinators, told us simply that “[veterans] deserve the best we can give them, because they protect our country.”
Assisting with the distribution efforts at one Operation Full Pack event at The Journey Home were a dozen nursing students from Ivy Tech, who prepared and handed out food as part of a learning experience for their mental health class. One nurse told us that “it’s important because people don’t know what goes on in places like this…getting this experience provides you that head-on look at what people go through.” As a future healthcare provider, it is essential to have an adequate perspective on the community of one’s patients. When asked which part of the experience was the most impactful, she told us “getting to understand people and see things the way they do has had the biggest impact on me, because before I kind of saw things my way and now I see things in a whole different light.”
One particularly moving element of the distribution was the support it got from community members who may even be lacking resources themselves. We spoke to one individual who described himself as “homeless, but looking to help out wherever I can.” His philosophy that “if you do good things, good things happen for you” clearly aligned him along a path of hope, and getting to help out his neighbors was beneficial to his own wellbeing.
The event and its attendees demonstrate the need for Operation Full Pack’s distributions across East Central Indiana, and show how the communities we support continue to support each other.