Weekly, at The Springs, Marbella, and Columbia Hills, APAH residents can stock their pantries and refrigerators with groceries to help get through the week.
In his role as Director of Community Impact and the lead of APAH’s resident services program, it is common to see José Quinonez attending these weekly food distributions through our partner, Arlington Food Assistance Center – more commonly known around Arlington as AFAC.
José greets each person with a smile or a hand shake and asks them how they are doing today, or how things are going for them. Occasionally I may help them decide what to take home. “At times, perhaps getting some of my mother in me, I ask, ‘why didn’t you pick any fruit or vegetables?'” says José . “I go there so I can hear their stories, to find out what is going well for them, or, in some cases, hear their concerns.”
He knows that the time he spends in a little conversation, sharing a laugh, or giving a resident time to complain, builds trust. “It shows them that I truly care about them as APAH residents, as individuals, and as human beings,” says José. “It is an opportunity to see how well we are doing or where we need to improve; an opportunity for me to see if we are listening to their needs, hopes, and challenges, and how well we are responding to them.”
With no doubt, AFAC is the perfect partner to affordable housing; APAH offers our residents stable housing and AFAC provides them the necessary food assistance during critical times. “I think novelist James Baldwin got it right when he said, ‘anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor,'” reflects José . But, through the partnership with AFAC, APAH residents can, for a moment, have a weight lifted.
“These AFAC distributions are always a moment to reflect on the needs and well-being of our residents. It allows us to share the responsibility of providing the dignity of receiving fresh and nutrition staples to our residents, so they can always have enough to cook a nutritious meal for the family. And the soul.”