Our 9th graders began preparing for their YSOP experience during their October retreat at Powell House, and then engaged in additional discussions about stereotypes and causes of hunger and homelessness throughout the course of the year. Simultaneously, during the 2nd graders’ study of homelessness, students heard the stories of visitors from Picture the Homeless, a grassroots organization founded and led by homeless people.
Upper School students Hildi, Meledi, and Bella volunteered to read Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen to Lower School students to contextualize the school-wide collection of goods for the homeless that took place in February as part of the Black History Month Celebration. The BFS Parents and Teachers Association (PAT) brought the community together to recognize historical Black agents of change and to inspire our students to become change-makers as well. As part of this event, Hildi and Meledi helped to facilitate the creation of care packages for the homeless. Each Lower School student created a special drawing and note to accompany each care package. These care packages were then delivered by 9th graders as part of their YSOP experience.
Students reflected on their experiences through writing and art:
Seminary and be a part of the YSOP organization fighting against
hunger and homelessness. Being able to spend a full twenty-four hours
with the entire grade learning and interacting with people, having fun,
sharing common interests, and doing service was a great way to be able
to bond with one another more and a great way to interact with others as
well.” -Miles, 9th grader
“Despite all the discussion we had about how most of the
stereotypes about homeless people are not true, I still believed some of
them. Needless to say, this experience changed everything… YSOP
was a great experience and I would recommend this experience to everyone
at Brooklyn Friends because it gives you the reality of what it means
to be homeless or just hungry.” -Dalia, 9th grader
“I learned that anyone and everyone can become homeless.
There isn’t one characteristic that would make you homeless, it could
happen to anyone. I saw people of all different personalities,
backgrounds, ethnicities, and ages. For most of the people I met I
wouldn’t have guessed that they were homeless or formerly homeless. It
really taught me that homeless people are no different than us. They
have families, people they love, just like us… I believe everyone
should not only become more aware of homelessness in their community,
but also they should learn that homelessness can happen to anybody.”
-Nathacha, 9th grader
“I had a really positive experience at YSOP I found myself really upset at the fact that so many people were struggling to even eat which is a problem that I was aware of but had no idea of the extent of people that poverty and homelessness truly effects on a daily basis.” -Caila, 9th grader
“Assisting with making meals, cleaning, and serving the meals to guests, it really opened my eyes as to the wide range of people that are struggling… Because there is such a stereotype surrounding homelessness and extreme poverty, it was really touching to me, and surprising to me, to see so many people who didn’t even come close to fitting into any stereotype. I would definitely recommend doing this again with future classes, it was really amazing.” -Brendan, 9th grader
“The entire trip was also so tied with the values of BFS, and I think that experiences like this make us significantly increase our understanding of the school’s core beliefs.” -Hildi, 9th grader
Just one week after working with YSOP, 9th graders Charlie, Emmitt, Maalik and Miles volunteered to share their experiences and raise awareness as part of the BFS Spring Family Day of Service on April 12th. In addition to joining Lower and Middle School students and families in making sandwiches for the hungry through #HashtagLunchBag, they showed younger students a slideshow of images from their YSOP experience, read Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen, and talked about what they had learned. 11th graders Olivia, Ariel, Maret and Cal also participated to raise awareness about composting and food justice. Parents and students who participated were impressed and inspired by the passion and commitment that was modeled by the Upper Schoolers, and appreciated the opportunity for members of the whole school community to come together for a common cause.