Remel Rutledge, a first-year student in the Bachelor completion program at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, is an excellent student and an aspiring community leader on in East Garfield Park, Chicago IL. While he prioritizes his studies, Remel’s ultimate obligation is to the community. Remel volunteers with Above & Beyond Family Recovery Center in East Garfield Park in their food pantry and often shadows Dr. Sandra Siegel while she runs a group for individuals experiencing substance abuse at the center. His community work and experience drive him to establish support services for those without safety nets in Chicago. He is constantly giving back to a community that benefits from his compassion and intelligence.
What’s true charity? As I stood passing out food, one woman said to another, “I don’t like him.” I made eye contact as they talked. One of the women said, “No not him. He's nice and respectful.” The two women approached me, one rubbing my arm as they told me how much they appreciate how I speak to them. At that moment I realized the best charity is allowing people to keep their dignity. With everything that comes with being homeless—lack of hygiene, lack of respect, addiction, alcoholism, and mental health issues—treating people with dignity makes them feel part of humanity. I volunteer at Above and Beyond food pantry. There’s a wonderful feeling helping people, but it is liberating when you can help with the intangibles. This experience taught me the value of true charity; Anyone with the physical capabilities can pass out food (especially if they didn’t pay for it) but it takes caring for humanity to help someone keep their dignity. I had no intentions on helping someone with their dignity, I only did what I thought was right. However, I learned that I could help someone keep their dignity and that was rewarding to me.