Written by: Leah Reed, No Kid Hungry Youth Ambassador, Texas Hunger Initiative – Waco Regional Office
My name is Leah Reed, and I’m originally from Hayward, California, about a 25-minute drive from the lovely San Francisco. I’ve found myself in Waco, Texas, for a few years, studying at Baylor University, where I am a junior religion major, minoring in sociology and poverty studies & social justice.
I’ve been passionate about learning about and addressing hunger and poverty since middle school. I’ve had the opportunity to go on various outreach trips—both at home and abroad—in which my eyes have been opened to the harsh realities of poverty and all that comes with it. But I’ve seen that there’s no need to go to faraway places in order to be exposed to and educated about hunger and poverty issues. I was able to learn about homelessness in my native Oakland/San Francisco area through volunteering at local food banks. When I moved to Waco, I learned about poverty and homelessness in Texas. Sometimes, the people right in front of us are the ones who need our help and our advocacy. The way we treat and care for the most vulnerable among us speaks volumes about who we are as a society and what we value. I want to be a part of a society that cares for its people and gives every person the opportunity to thrive. Unfortunately, for many Americans, hunger really gets in the way of achieving their goals.
This past spring while studying abroad, I visited the Berlin Wall, where I saw an inspiring mural with these beautiful words: “Many small people who, in many small places, do many small things that can alter the face of the world.” This world is full of injustice and broken systems, and that can be overwhelming. I often feel paralyzed by the fact that there is so much pain and need and brokenness, and I feel like there’s nothing I can do. I’m just one person, after all. I get really sad, feel hopeless, and think that this is just how the world is—we’ll just have to deal with it. And I do think there is a place for stopping to recognize and grieve for the injustice our world faces. But there is also a place for recognizing that we do have the power to do what we can, where we are, with whatever we have. Big changes are made up of small actions by hopeful people who refuse to believe that they are incapable of making the world better.
Ever since I first learned of it, I’ve admired the work of the Texas Hunger Initiative. I am humbled and grateful to have this opportunity to work with THI through the No Kid Hungry Youth Ambassador position. I love being able to see the power of this collaboration, the way that diverse organizations come together, being innovative and approaching issues from different angles, but working with the same goal in mind—ending hunger. I’m thankful to be a part of these efforts.