November 2015 Volunteer Spotlight Erika Tarver

Erika TarverThis month get to know N Street Village volunteer, Erika Tarver. Since 2007, Erika has been donating and serving dinner each month to the residents living at the night shelter. The residents love her spunky attitude and enthusiasm for cooking. Let’s get know Erika…

Growing up as a child, I was always taught the importance of giving back to the community.  After graduating from Spelman College, I have volunteered in several capacities (e.g., Peace Corps Volunteer, Girl Scouts Troop Leader, Sunday School teacher, etc.), but few experiences have been as rewarding as a volunteering with N Street Village.  I first started volunteering with N Street Village in 2007, and I have been blessed to get to know a lot of the staff and residents, and watch the program grow and flourish.  When I am not volunteering, I work as a Research Program Analyst with the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging, within the Division of Neuroscience.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the DC area? I am a military brat, and was born in Hawaii.  I have lived in the Washington, DC area for 12 years.

What is your favorite D.C. restaurant? My favorite DC restaurant….there’s a tie.  I enjoy eating at Zengo and The Hamilton.

On Saturday afternoon, you will find me in my pajamas watching Law and Order reruns.

Who is one of your favorite musicians?  While I have many favorite musicians, if I had to choose, then I would say one of my favorite musicians is Stevie Wonder.

What makes N Street Village unique to you? What makes N Street unique to me is that it provides such a comprehensive, holistic services to its clients who are at various stages of transition (e.g., new to the program or transitioning out of the program).

What is your favorite meal to prepare for the residents at night the shelter? My favorite meal to prepare is breakfast for dinner.  The reason is because there is no greater feeling than having good comfort food right before you go to bed.  And, if there are leftovers, well then you can have something to eat in the morning.

What has been one of your biggest surprises about N Street Village? One of the biggest surprises about N Street Village, is the breadth of its outreach.  While I was aware of the buildings on 14th and N, I was not fully aware of the various communities and transition housing units they were supporting.

Share one of your favorite N Street Village memories? While I have many fond memories of N Street Village, one of the greatest ones was a recent experience.  My colleague, William Tolentino, and I were preparing an Italian meal for dinner, and one of the guests at the night shelter shared that the ladies had been growing herbs in a garden across the street.  After inquiring whether we needed more basil, she said, “I’ll be right back with some basil.”  What I expected were a few leaves of basil, what I received was an entire basil bush.  Her act of kindness and generosity demonstrated to me that we aren’t just providing a meal, but we are partners (volunteers and the clients) in providing food that everyone can enjoy.