Friday, July 22, 2016

Hannah met women whose faces said more with just one look than any sentence they could have uttered.

 Student Service Project Report Summer 2016 

“Every person, all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you” Wise words of Richard Bach.
 Through my ervice project I feel as if I gained a second sight. I chose The Kearny Center, which is Tallahassee’s homeless shelter for men and women. It was a road and a building that I have driven by innumerable amounts of times and never thought twice about what went on inside. Now, however, I drive by and my mind is transcended into deep thoughts about who would be getting bed there tonight, and not a cot; who would miss check in, and have to sleep somewhere outside and unsafe; how the woman in the midst of a miscarriage the night I volunteered is doing now. I choose to take my experience of a measly few hours and run with it.
I volunteered in the women’s wing and met women whose faces said more with just one look than any sentence they could have uttered. I sat in the small room in the middle of the
dorms in small room, covered with windows, at a desk surrounded by sheets, towels, toiletries
and other basic necessities I’ve never even once imagined what it would be like to go without. The women approached me without hesitation and asked me my name and told me how happy they were I had decided to take the time out of my life to help this place they held so dear to their hearts. This was their home. That was my biggest culture shock. They didn’t have any private living quarters. Just two large rooms stacked wall to wall with cots and beds. Showers that were loosely divided and toilet stalls just the same. The courage these women had to have to walk into this building on their first night and surrender their privacy along with their pride is unimaginable.

My job that night was to hand the women what they asked throughout the little window in front of the desk. They would come up and exchange their ID cards for Towels and ask for Shampoo conditioner, and bars of soap to accompany the towels they received. They asked for bed sheets, and I snuck them extra to help pad the cots some of them had slept on.
It doesn’t seem like much putting the words on paper of the little tasks I did, but I believe it made more of an impact on me than it did on them. I by no means had things handed to me growing up, or even now. I have maintained a job since I was 15. Now, I work two jobs, pay for my own bills fully, along with my college tuition. However, I don’t deny the privilege I have received throughout my life. Since that day, when something has upset me, I think to myself ‘would this matter if I didn’t have a home? Would I care about this still if I had to wait until a designated time to eat a meal I didn’t choose every day?’ This was a truly humbling experience that I cannot wait to do all over. I have maintained in contact with the director of the women’s wing to become a regular volunteer. This experience opened my eyes to the fact that life could be worse, much worse. I am so lucky to have a place to lay my head in private and comfort every night without question. That there is food in my fridge I have access to twentyfour­seven, along with a dog who
snuggles me every night, which I never viewed as a luxury until I saw these women did not have that option.
I have always planned to get involved with local government once I graduate and know I know what purpose I will have once I get there. To give back to my community and help those that need it the most. To try and give voice to those who are rarely heard. To help them gain access to help and resources to not only help them in the present, but help them gain a future. A future that has a bed, a full fridge and a snuggly pet to help keep them warm at night.
No amount of service I give after that night can ever repay what that first experience did for me. I am forever indebted to the women who have no idea of their impact on my life. The small conversations I have that replay in my head ever since that evening. Their simple stories and pleasures will forever keep my thoughts modest.