This past March, I traveled to Washington D.C. for the first time. I arrived at the same time as a snowstorm that blanketed the nation’s capital in a dusting of powder that choked out the season’s first blooms. I was awestruck by D.C.’s history-rich landscape. I gawked at the White House, peeping through the iron fence that frames its grounds. I almost slipped up the snowy steps on the way to the Jefferson Memorial, but was able to snap a picture of the Washington Monument from inside the memorial during a break from the snowfall. I stood in awe of the size, scope, and somberness of the Lincoln Memorial as a worker fruitlessly attempted to sweep the powdery snow from its steps with a broom.
After seeing all of these sites in just the first day, I traveled with my family to visit Arlington National Cemetery the next day. Returning from the cemetery as the sun set and snow fell, we hailed an Uber driver who took us through a tunnel. The Potomac River Capitol, and National Mall faded from view as the tunnel’s yellow lights illuminated a strikingly different sight: flimsy tents full of people wearing ragged clothes. My family and I were overwhelmed with surprise and sadness. Our driver seemed surprised that we even noticed the people there. He said that such a sight was so common that no one in D.C. even bats an eye at it.
Even after the following day’s exciting itinerary––the Supreme Court, National Archives, and Mount Vernon––nothing struck me the rest of the trip as much as that ten second trip through the tunnel did. The sharp contrast of homelessness against the backdrop of some of the most majestic sights in America was jarring. Underneath the shadows of symbols of the Land of Opportunity were real people lacking even the most basic necessities of life. And such a sight isn’t as uncommon as it’s thought to be.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness (, 564,708 people faced the same reality of those I saw in D.C. on one similarly cold January night in 2015. Moreover, in 2014, 38,931 unaccompanied youth faced the same reality. At Threads of Care, it’s our mission to help put an end to these sad realities. Last year, we collected over six thousand articles of clothes and shoes. This year, we’re shooting for ten thousand. You can join us by donating or by holding your own clothing drive. Rather in the shadow of symbols of all that is good about America or in our own back yards, poverty––a silent evil in this country––affects people all around us, and the fight against poverty starts with everyday people like you and me.