The Importance of Radical Hospitality

This originally appeared in The Jewish Exponent on December 20, 2019.

By Monét Davis

Every weekday Broad Street Ministry’s welcoming atmosphere provides support for all types of Philadelphians. This is the living embodiment of “radical hospitality.” Since becoming a Repair the World Fellow in Philadelphia, I have witnessed the impact of “radical hospitality” in our everyday lives through the actions of Broad Street Ministry.

Broad Street Ministry proudly places “radical hospitality” in the center of their mission on their website:
“There is always a seat at our table; there is enough for everyone. To those who have more than they need, we invite partnership and contribution. For those who are turned away elsewhere, our doors are wide and welcoming. In fact, our doors are open to all of our neighbors. On those who live in the shadows of solitude, we shower the sunlight of community. And to you, we extend an invitation to join us at our tables and help turn on the light.”

More important are the ways in which Broad Ministry acts on these words through a number of initiatives. I have volunteered with their program that sorts and delivers personal mail to more than 3,000 people who claim Broad Street Ministry as their permanent address. Through my work in the Breaking Bread Program — whether pouring a cold cup of water, serving a hot plate or simply sitting and talking about life — I’ve met new neighbors and reconnected with ones I had met previously. In addition to their mail service and community lunch, they offer a personal care pantry, a walk through closet with donated clothing, free mending services, a medical clinic and so much more.

“Treat people as if they are your neighbors.” That is what was told to me during my training at Broad Street. In Broad Street’s eyes, our neighbors can be anyone who lives in our community in need of support. Through my time volunteering at Broad Street Ministry. I began to imagine how much better a city, a country, a world would be if we extended the same generosity to everyone that Broad Street Ministry does. When we genuinely examine and discuss the different forms of inequality in our communities, we can no longer distance ourselves from the realities that people are facing.

When we begin to see everyone as our neighbors — not strangers — our hearts widen. Our ability to be compassionate and empathetic expands. Of course, individuals are limited in what they can do. However, Broad Street Ministry has the necessary capacity combined with the conviction to generate collective impact driven by these principles. Operating on their scale is what leads to positive change on the ground.

This world needs more radical hospitality — and our communities can do more to create it. How will you engage to build relationships, to strengthen communities and to serve with others?

Monét Davis is a 2019-20 Repair the World Philadelphia Fellow.