Jarryd Justyn Delaney, Martha’s Table

My name is Jarryd Delaney and I am a freshmen C.L.E.G. major in the School of Public Affairs. For CSLP I decided to relate my service to my Introduction to CLEG class. For those who are unaware, “CLEG” is an acronym for “Communication, Law, Economics, & Government” and is an interdisciplinary major at American University. I stumbled upon my organization, “Martha’s Table”, by accident. Initially, my service hours were going to be given toward a program that helped underprivileged children receive a better education than the one they were already getting. However, soon into my time with them it was unfortunately made clear that they did not need as many people as they had taken on board to help. So my help, although appreciated, was no longer needed. Soon after I had received that email, my Program Assistant, Jessica, guided me toward an organization called “Martha’s Table” that seeks to help feed less-fortunate people in and around the Washington D.C. area. Through the Table Program, I was able to find a branch-off called “Martha’s Outfitters”.

The Outfitter program is dedicated to collecting, cleaning (if need be) and re-selling slightly used clothing at lower and much-more affordable costs. These clothes are handled in such a manner that allows people and families of lower incomes to purchase ‘new’ clothing without being left without any money to spend on other necessities. I decided to partake in helping this organization because of two main reasons. First, I enjoy clothes. Fashion is something I take pride in, and being able to help people of lower income express themselves through clothes is important. Many of the clothes that are sold at the outfitters do not resemble the stereotypical “second-hand clothes” some people picture. Secondly, many people who are better off forget that clothes are in fact hard to purchase for many others. More “privileged” people assume that clothes are something that is a given, something that can be easily obtained and used. But in reality for many people, this is not true. The price of new clothes is a large barrier for people of lower incomes, and without places like “Martha’s Outfitters”, new clothes would be hard to come by.

I find that I am able to relate my experiences at my site to my findings in my Intro to CLEG Class fairly well. In my class, the semester has been very focused on the benefits and disadvantages of creating free or reduced cost college in the United States. Now, at first, that may not seem easily connectable to obtaining lower-cost clothes. However, if we dig deeper it will become clearer. I have learned in Intro to CLEG, that by creating free higher-education it will most likely create a larger division between wealthy and non-wealthy people. It will affect everyone and every part of the economy in ways positive and negative (such as the division). One positive way is that it will create more opportunities for people to move through the social ladder of economic division. More college, more job opportunities, and less student debt will together equal more wealth. If the United States becomes able to create more wealth for its citizens, then places such as “Martha’s Outfitters” will no longer be needed. That is the long term goal of many places like this however. If they are not needed, then the people they have served are better off.

Overall, I have enjoyed my time helping at “Martha’s Outfitters” and I can foresee myself helping with them again in the coming Spring 2017 Semester.

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