Reflections on YACHT

      YACHT club is more than “the homeless ministry on campus.” YACHT club is more than the YACHT mamas. YACHT club is a time and place where I believe we see God’s people serving God’s people. YACHT is one of many clubs on campus, most famously known for being started by Shane Claiborne in the early 2000s. Shane and fellow Eastern students felt a call to the city, specifically to help those who were being oppressed in the homeless community. This call led them into action and they began going into the city via Septa and would go with the basic idea of meeting and helping others. No prerequisites, no lines, no files, no paperwork; you were hungry, Shane asked if you were hungry, and he would do what he could to help you. This idea of just helping with whatever was presented to him is what started YACHT because it was not some large organization that would come, take pictures, serve some food and then leave. It instead was a person having a conversation, seeing a need and then doing what he could to fulfill that need. I believe that is what attracted people to Shane and to what later became YACHT. It was not a flashy matching shirt party that came in and solved people’s problems in Philadelphia; it was a guy and his friends attempting to help strangers out. This is what first drew me to YACHT.

      The first experience I had with YACHT was showing up to the Jammin’ Java and just being thrown right into an assembly line of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. There seemed to be no leadership, only fellow students who had more of a clue than I did. After making sandwiches, I was approached by someone who at the time was a YACHT mama, Nick Trombley. He explained to me that we were going to be going into the city of Philadelphia and serving these sandwiches. I thought to myself, “That’s cool, I have handed things out before, shouldn’t be hard at all.” Then we circled up and were FULLY debriefed. We were told about the buddy system and how we would be in two different parts of the city serving sandwiches and making conversations with anyone who wanted to hold a conversation. “Wow okay,” I thought to myself, “so not only am I in a new city but I am also expected to talk to strangers.” This first experience was terrifying. I had a partner but he and I had no idea who the other was so we just ended up leaving one another. “Now I am alone with two bags of food,” I thought. So I do what anyone would do in this situation: I panic and ask the first person I saw if they wanted the bag, and surprisingly they said yes. I spoke to the man who at this point I do not know or recall his name, but I do remember this weird feeling like I had made a friend. That feeling never left; it is what keeps me coming to YACHT to this day.

      The people you meet in YACHT are no different than the people you know at Eastern. To some, that statement seems so obvious and is almost obnoxious to say, but to some that is world-changing. The ones for whom that statement is world changing, are why I continue to serve and work with YACHT. (I am not a mama anymore for those wondering.) I want everyone on Eastern’s campus and everyone in the world to experience the humbling experience that comes from hanging out with people experiencing homelessness. I will say nine out of 10 times at YACHT outings I feel I am the one being served, and that is because the people we see, meet, and interact with are filled with so much knowledge and are always willing to share. They are among the most oppressed group in the United States, yet they are in my experience some of the strongest Christians I have ever met. YACHT is a beautiful and life-changing ministry that truly pushes you, not because you are doing something difficult but because you are being pushed to have better perspective, to be more grateful, to believe harder, and to just never give up. I want to end with a ‘thank you’ to all those in YACHT currently, to those who have been a part of YACHT, and especially to the past leaders who have pushed me to be better, not by saying anything but simply by being amazing leaders. A special thank you to Nick, Patsy, Amelia, Elizabeth,  Hannah, Lishaly, JC, Maddie, Michelle, Khalil, Emily, and Shelby. You all are the past, present, and future of YACHT and I think you are all wonderful humans.

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