Project Downtown Miami/Ft. Lauderdale
Project Downtown Ft. Lauderdale/Miami is a subgroup of a larger organization known as Project Downtown. The story of how project downtown was conceived is beautiful and as described on their website in two sentences: “Project Downtown is an initiative that began with a few students that were dissatisfied. Dissatisfied with the plight of homeless and needy individuals in cities across the nation, dissatisfied with the blind eye that society has turned toward them, and dissatisfied to their own non-contribution to the betterment of their own communities. So they turned their dissatisfaction into action.”. there are people all over the world as we see on the news, specifically in third world countries, that do not know when other next meal will come to take away the pain of malnourishment. What we do not realize is that there are not only people in other countries, but there are thousands of people all around us, whether they are the beggars we see at the corners of the streets, somewhere in our neighborhoods, in the downtown of our cities, or even students that we study amongst. Food and shelter are the most necessities for a human yet there seems to be still a shortage for everyone even in this country of The United States, which can be referred to as the superpower of the world.
On Saturday morning I woke up at 7am. After I showered and dressed, I drove to my friend’s house in Davie, FL where we prepared pasta, cut watermelon, organized the drinks and the snack bars which we bought from Costco. We had everything ready by 10am which is approximately when we loaded the cars up with all the food. We arrived at Downtown Ft. Lauderdale at 11pm and parked right next to Stranahan Park which is where the food was to be distributed at noon. Immediately we began to set up the tables which were to hold all the food trays and the rest of the distribution material. The lines began to form by 11:30am and became seemingly infinite by 12pm. Everything went smoothly and there was enough food to feed everybody, and some even took extras with them.
Amongst the homeless was a woman named Rachel. Rachel had not eaten for many days and still had the energy of a teenager. The amount of love and respect I have for this woman is about the same as a family member of mine. Rachel can be described as one of the most thankful people in this world because of how satisfied she is with whatever she has in this world. Claiming that she is an alien from another planet that arrived on a spaceship to Earth is her trademark introduction. After conversing with her for a small while she finally opened up to me and told me that she was thrown out of the house by her own children. The level of difficulty raising a child is for a parent and the amount of pain a mother experiences when giving birth to a human is unimaginable until experienced. It is so sad how there are so many people just like Rachel who are neglected by their own family and have nothing else to help them survive. When our group of volunteers was getting together for a picture Rachel joined and called us her new family and when we were leaving, she approached me and said told me, “you are a gentleman”.
Project Downtown held a blanket drive on Saturday, November 30th, 2019. The nights are beginning to grow colder the further we get into winter. Although food is necessary for survival, so is warmth. We as volunteers collected over 200 blankets which were distributed to the homeless people in Downtown Ft. Lauderdale. The Project Downtown Blanket Drive was aided by college students in collecting blankets which took about two weeks. The feeling of satisfaction for providing somebody with anything that they truly need which makes them happy is unrelatable and there may not be a better feeling in this world.
Saturday, December 7th, 2019 a group of us college students got together on behalf of Project Downtown and created hygiene kits. The hygiene kits were separated by gender. The hygiene kits contain toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, towel, shampoo, and for the females there are pads and other feminine hygiene products. Very early in the morning a group of student volunteers gathered at Salah Tawfik, which is an Islamic school as well as a mosque and put together all the hygiene kits.
A lot of the planning and organization for Project Downtown happens inside of mosques throughout the United States. Knowing that the new generation of college students have the heart to take initiative for such an amazing cause is heartwarming.