By Hayley Miller, T.E.E.N Member
On Sunday, December 1, our T.E.E.N. (Teen Education and Engagement Network) group visited The Baltimore Station to learn about how they help the community and to spend time with residents living there. The Baltimore Station, located in south Baltimore, is a shelter for male veterans dealing with addiction. The men can live there and receive the proper treatment and care they need in order to become self-sufficient again.
Those of us in T.E.E.N., along with a Diller fellow and some of her friends, arrived at 4:30 p.m. and started off by preparing plates of food to serve for dinner. After spending a little bit of time learning about The Baltimore Station, we took a tour of the building. A resident living there was the one who showed us around, and he also told us his story and how he wound up staying there. Everyone in my group was stunned at first as he talked about his struggle with homelessness and addiction, and it really struck me for the first time how real these things can be. Of course, most of us in the group were aware of these issues in our community, but for many of us, it was the first time actually meeting people dealing with these issues.
On our tour, we were taken to the large rooms where the residents live. Rows of bunk beds lined the walls, and each man received his own set of shelves for his belongings. As we walked through, many residents smiled and introduced themselves and their ages ranged from 20 to 70 years old. There was a huge spectrum of different residents, but they were all very friendly to us and enjoyed showing us around.
We finished our tour in the TV room, where most of the men were sitting and watching the football game. We cheered along with them, and talked about our favorite players and who we wanted to make it to the playoffs this year. At around 5:30 p.m., we went back into the kitchen and began to bring out the food we had prepared earlier and served the residents dinner. Our group spread out amongst the tables, and we all had the opportunity to talk with the veterans and eat dinner together. The man I sat with was about 60 years old and he asked me about school, and then we talked a little bit about his experience growing up in Baltimore too. He showed me his medals from the war, and I was taken aback at how happy he was to talk to me.
Prior to my visit, I’d never heard of The Baltimore Station, and I barely knew anything about the poverty problems in our city. I knew they were there, but I had never encountered anyone who was actually facing them. I thoroughly enjoyed this visit, and I would really like to volunteer and get to know the residents better in the future. This was truly a rare opportunity, and I can’t wait to come back again.