TCAH’s MLK Day of Service
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]By Ian Wilson, TCAH Volunteer | January 2023[/vc_column_text][mpc_grid_images images=”19065,19067,19041″ cols=”3″ gap=”3″ image_size=”700×500″ image_opacity=”100″ effect=”none” image_hover_opacity=”100″][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” embodies The Campaign Against Hunger’s unrelenting goal of alleviating the strife of hunger here in New York City. On both January 14th and January 16th, in TCAH’s Brooklyn and Arverne View Community Food Distribution Centers, hundreds of amazing volunteers heeded the call and came together to honor Dr. King’s legacy on the 28th anniversary of this National Day of Service.
By day’s end, close to 3,000 bags of nutritious, non-perishable foods were packed and ready to be distributed to our neighbors in need. Seeing volunteers of all ages from around the city unite and work fluently together for a common purpose was awe-inspiring. TCAH wants to thank all the volunteers who participated and made this event such a success! As we all learned from the words and experience of our honored guest, Shawnee Benton Gibson, your selfless efforts and dedication actually helped nourish and potentially save the life of a pregnant woman, a mother, or a newborn in our community.
TCAH highlights guest speaker Shawnee Benton Gibson, LMSW/FDLC of the Hulu documentary “Aftershock”:
Shawnee tragically lost her daughter Shamony Gibson in 2019 when postpartum complaints were ignored, and Shamony died a preventable death at the age of 30, just 13 days after giving birth to a healthy baby. Featured in the compelling Hulu documentary “Aftershock,” Shawnee tells of how multiple separate medical workers repeatedly discounted Shamony’s medical complaints and instead asked if “she was on drugs” as her dire situation became worse. This experience of clear and obvious injustice, what Shawnee has referred to as “medical racism,” motivated her to battle for change. Shawnee is now a strong advocate for maternal health reform in the U.S., especially in the black community, where “the maternal mortality rate for black women is three times the rate for white women.”
Shawnee, on this day of service, graciously chose to spend MLK Day with TCAH at the Brooklyn Distribution Center. With Aftershock streaming on a screen behind her, she shared that “when I think about hunger, and I think about The Campaign Against Hunger, I think about opportunities to sit and serve by listening to people and being with people.” Understanding that “it is hard to be your authentic self when you are hungry” and properly voicing your needs, Shawnee reminded us, in that warehouse, that all people pass through a womb, and whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding, no woman should ever be in a situation where they can’t provide nourishment to themselves or their children.
At the conclusion of this extraordinary day, I had the privilege of speaking one on one with Shawnee, who shared that:
“Hunger is an existential crisis that we are all impacted by. When we are willing to serve, it is an act of resistance that not only feeds and nourishes our communities’ most vulnerable members, but ensures that everyone is honored, supported and armed with the resources to discover their place and their purpose in the world.”
– Shawnee Benton Gibson
I know I will be forever impacted by participating in this event, and TCAH hopes to see all of you at our next event or helping in the Pantry, the Warehouse, or the Farm. As Shawnee taught us, action is needed to help save lives!
TCAH would like to give a special thank you to the following, who truly made the success of this event possible:
- The Flatbush Leadership Academy is a program of the 67th Precinct Clergy Council led by Director of Programs Ezra Pean.
- The NYC Department for the Aging
- The alumni chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Omega Psi Phi fraternity
- The amazing cooking of Chef Charlene Johnson
- Board member Annie Mohan for her fantastic work at recruiting Arverne volunteers.