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Jerry Schwab

Jerry Schwab is the Assistant Director at the House of Charity located in Spokane, Washington. The House of Charity provides critical services to the homeless and transient population of Spokane, including the provision of food, medical care, mental health counseling and case management, housing, shower and toilet facilities, laundry, clothing, personal effects storage, and more. Jerry also acts as a community liaison to foster communication and exchange between community members and the patrons of the House of Charity through an Urban Plunge program that he developed himself.

Interview by Melissa Johnson
March 2012


Peace, for me, comes through harmony, understanding, nurturing, and stability. It’s gentle and humble, and manifests itself most beautifully when we are able to coexist without exerting force or control over each other.

At the House of Charity, I’m able to see peace and compassion present themselves on a daily basis through the material forms of food, clothes, and a bed to sleep in. Meeting these basic needs, as well as providing a place of consistency and fairness, allows the homeless and impoverished to advance themselves and to gain a higher level of trust, comfort, and security, thereby bringing peace to themselves and others around them.

For many people, violence, alienation, and marginalization have become the norm, as these experiences occur so frequently throughout our individual lives. Distress caused by violence and pain leads to a lack of trust of people, and so when we fail to receive healing for the trauma and brokenness we have faced, we are told to fill these holes with “stuff” rather than with relationships; rather than with love.

As a society, we have come to depend on instant gratification and material possessions to be the quick fixes to our brokenness and pain. Unfortunately though, because so many people fail to truly process through the hurt they have experienced throughout life, we continue to hold onto it and it eats away at us inside. We don’t do a good job, as a society, at fostering communication and intimacy – instead, we foster competition and take care of our needs first, instead of responding to the needs of others.

But this is where we have room to grow as people who desire peace. We must educate ourselves on the complexity of life and all that comes with it, while also being aware of life’s simplicity as well. For example, we all come from different places and different walks of life, but there is also so much that human beings have in common with each other – we all need food, water, air, love, community, etc. We share similar feelings and emotions. Our current culture is dominated by a power structure of wealth and greed, which causes us to become disconnected from what’s going on inside of ourselves and inside of each other. We forget our humanity.

Instead, we must realize that we all struggle. At the House of Charity, human beings struggle and suffer openly. The poor do not have the luxury of disguising and covering up pain and brokenness – things are raw and real, and they come exactly as they are.

We must stretch ourselves to leave our comfort zones and to enter into community with those who are different than us. Because the reality is that we are all hurting, and it’s just a matter of showing our brokenness, pain, and love to each other while living in a society that rejects vulnerability, intimacy, and honesty. This is what transforms our relationships with those who are different from us.  Vulnerability. This is what brings humanity together. This is what allows for the flourishing of life, and the flourishing of peace.