Meet the Staff

Rachel Pacheco, Director

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Rachel, originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia. She is now a DC resident and a member of Church of the Pilgrims. Rachel grew up in a Presbyterian congregation where she experienced church as family and was encouraged to use the time, gifts, and resources at our fingertips to strengthen our communities, both near and far. She graduated from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, a Roman Catholic institution, where she was first introduced to the heritage of Catholic social teaching. Most recently, Rachel is a graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary, a United Methodist school, where she studied public theology and biblical languages. While in seminary, her commitment to ecumenical work and relationships led her to work with an interfaith community with Episcopalian roots that focused on Benedictine spirituality, and also to serve on the student board of the Washington Theological Consortium. 

Rachel came to DC for seminary after spending two years in Tucson, AZ as a Presbyterian Young Adult Volunteer where she lived in community with other volunteers, practiced living simply, and commuted by bicycle. She worked at the Community Food Bank and with the Presbyterian Campus Ministry at the University of Arizona. Building on seeds planted by a college spring break trip to learn about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in south Florida, Rachel learned about the challenges and inequality of our food system, as well as the harsh reality of the US-Mexico borderlands and the life and death consequences of our trade and immigration policies. 

It is because of these and other experiences that Rachel is committed to the work of the Pilgrimage. She loves challenging volunteers of all ages to see new layers to the world around us in the hope that they will use this new vision to work with others toward equality, justice, and healing in their home communities. 

Rachel can be reached via email at: thepilgrimage@churchofthepilgrims.org.

Hannah Kurtz, Program Coordinator

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Hannah is originally from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She has been in DC for several years.

As a member of the Mennonite church, Hannah is passionate about the faith teachings of simple living and peace. Hannah earned her bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College, where she studies Peace and Conflict Studies and Education. In college she studied abroad in Northern Ireland and had her first experience working with youth and service learning with Broad Street Ministry’s Youth Initiative in Philadelphia, PA. This experience cemented her commitment to working with communities for peace and social justice.

After college, she served with Mennonite Central Committee in Jordan and Cambodia, working with education, peace education, and peacebuilding. Hannah moved to DC to pursue her masters at American University, where she has since graduated with a degree in Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs. She loves working with people of all ages to grow in understanding of the world, and pursue peace, justice, and equity. She is particularly interested in the intersections between poverty, homelessness, and systemic racism and patriarchy.

 Hannah can be reached via email at: hannah@churchofthepilgrims.org.

David Harris, Poet-in-Residence

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David is a forty-year-old native of Washington who grew up in suburban Maryland. A few years ago David became homeless due to untreated health problems. David describes this as the darkest experience of his life, but it led to many positive experiences: David was soon recruited for the Speakers' Bureau of the National Coalition for the Homeless; the Speakers' Bureau educates the public about homelessness by telling personal stories. This is what led David to become involved with the Pilgrimage.

Another positive result of homelessness was David discovering Miriam's Kitchen, a soup kitchen in downtown Washington. Miriam's provides programs fostering art and creative writing among homeless people. David had been a poet while growing up, and Miriam's helped him rediscover poetry. In the fall of 2002, the staff at The Pilgrimage suggested that David use his gift for writing to help Pilgrimage volunteers reflect on their service. David has been doing writing workshops at the Pilgrimage ever since; David describes his Pilgrimage experiences as a source of learning and great joy for many volunteers and himself.

David's homelessness ended on October 6th, 2004. He has a nice apartment, conveniently within walking distance of The Pilgrimage, and continues to be active in working with the National Coalition and doing workshops for The Pilgrimage.

In May 2009 David became a published author with his first book, Street Corner Majesty: Poems by David Harris. Street Corner Majesty tells of David's story of homelessness through his own poetry and can be purchased at AuthorHouse.

David can be reached via email at backwaterhope@yahoo.com.