Constitution Team and the Street Sandwich Club have given Grant senior Ally Jeidy a new perspective on what it means to be a part of a community.
So what exactly is the ‘Street Sandwich Club’?
We go to areas in Portland where there’s a lot of homeless people, bring them sandwiches and, before the event, we get together and make them all together.
What does it mean to you?
It’s more about the community we’re building by doing this…Many times homeless people will ask for money and people will just completely ignore them and pretend they’re not there. They’ll pretend that they’re invisible. It’s just not a natural thing for people to do. And yet, the way our society is constructed that’s how people treat other people. But for us, we are changing how we view homelessness for the rest of our lives and how we’ll interact with not just homelessness, but (also) being involved with our communities.
Where did that longing to change stigmas come from?
I’ve kind of just always wanted to make a change, but Con Team has definitely strengthened my ideas of what exactly the problems are or strengthened my idea to look at things and decide…what needs to be changed.
Oh yes, Constitution Team, you just won nationals. How was your time in D.C.?
It was the best experience I’ve ever had…All the skills that come with it are what I really cared about. And winning was nice.
This is the second time in three years Grant’s team has won. What do you think makes the team so great?
First of all, the number of people that donate their time to make it happen, both the teammates and the coaches, just the level of learning that you end up doing…The best way to create a community is to get involved in other generations and that’s what they’re doing.
That’s similar to what you’re doing with the Street Sandwich Club. When did you get the idea for your club?
My sister had done (a similar thing) last year with her church youth group. She really enjoyed it and we wanted to do it together at Grant. That sounded like a lot of fun but then she went to college and I decided that I was still going to do it.
Why choose homelessness?
I can’t really articulate it. It’s just something I’ve always been compassionate towards…A home is something that everyone should have and in our so-called “advanced society,” it’s crazy that some people don’t have that basic need.
So walk me through what you usually do before an event.
We have all our (bread, meat and cheese) out on the table and as people come in I assign jobs…There’s a lot of people and we play music…It becomes sort of like an assembly line after a while…Then we just go hand them out around town…Usually, we just try to give them to individuals but sometimes, when it’s really cold out, we’ll leave them at shelters.
How do your interactions usually go?
I like to ask how they are doing. It’s nice to have a conversation because it doesn’t feel like you are just giving out charity.
And how do the homeless usually respond when you give it to them?
There’s always people that are like, “Why are you asking me that? I don’t want your charity.” And you have to expect that…There was one guy that tore up his sandwich and threw it on the ground but then we talked to another guy that was like, “Wow, I haven’t eaten in two days, this is so great.” At times, it feels like it’s not really a good thing, that you’re not really helping anyone, but then there’s times like that that make it worth it.
What do you mean by that?
I was thinking about it. Do I even agree with the whole premise of my club? We aren’t helping anyone get off the streets. We aren’t doing anything substantial. I was questioning it and I was trying to justify it to myself, like how is this different than a government social welfare program that’s just giving people free stuff but not helping them become active and do something for themselves? But then I realized it’s different because we’re not the government. It’s such a small thing that we are giving them…A sandwich isn’t going to make people not homeless anymore…but a sandwich can make somebody’s day. ◊