Friday, July 22, 2016

James Worked with his Aunt Iris at a Homeless Shelter in Miami

Student Service Project Report Summer 2016
            The quote that I would like to start this essay with is by Helen Keller, which reads “True happiness…is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose”. I agree with Helen Keller in the fact that I really believe that God gave us life for happiness and not misery. God really wants us as individuals to prosper and live life to the fullest through Him; obviously there will be struggles in life, but God always says that He will pull us through those tough times even when life seems to be at its darkest time.
For my service project I went to help my Aunt Iris at a homeless shelter in Miami this past month. My Aunt Iris is a Venezuelan born Catholic and loves to serve not only God but people. She loves to make people feel all warm and fuzzy inside and likes to make people feel loved. Every time I have been to Miami to visit my family she is always there to give me great advice on anything that I need to hear about. She gives great life lessons and is a very pivotal role model to have in my life. 
Every week she goes to the homeless shelter close to her home in Miami and gives out food and speaks with the homeless people that come in to the shelter. She has a very big and kind heart and she wishes nothing but the absolute best for all these people that she meets. She prays over them that they may find peace in life and to find a job and make some money that way they can afford food and shelter. She has always encouraged me to go with her every time I have visited Miami, and this time I was very fortunate enough to be able to go with her and enjoy this experience. 
So from the minute I stepped foot in this homeless shelter I really got a sense of hopelessness and abandonment. The look on everyone’s face at first was just a look of lost individuals looking for some type of answer to all their questions. My run in with homeless people on the streets in the past has been dealing with the majority of them asking me for money and me giving them some, but then I see them go into gas stations and spend it all on alcohol or cigarette packs. I then see them in the same place the next day doing the same thing, which is asking people for money. I think to myself “now why would I give you anymore money because all you are going to do is just spend it on stuff that is not essential to your own well being”. So basically my perception of homeless people has been that they deserve it because they just bring it upon themselves. After going to this homeless shelter I realized that this perception I had is only true for some of the people that re homeless, not all of them. I was able to serve them dinner and sit down and talk with some of them about their life and how they got to where they are at in life now. This one lady that I talked to said that she went through a very abusive relationship with her now ex-husband and fled to get away from it all. She’s been struggling for years trying to figure out what her next move is since she has always had someone else to live with. One thing led to another and she ended up homeless and abandoned. She has tried different things to help her get herself back on her own two feet, but she has just been so damaged physically and mentally from her abusive relationship that nothing has really worked. She stood out to me the most because the quote that I chose at the beginning of this essay really relates to what I experienced at this homeless shelter. 
This lady was once happy and now is at the darkest point in her life trying to find a way out of it. So all I could do was pray with her and just encourage her to try and remain faithful that God will help her out of this difficult situation. This experience really brought to my attention the fact that some people just can’t help the situation that they are in. It opened me up to helping others and really showed me that just a smile can bring joy to that person’s life. 
This lady that I spoke with said that she had been praying for someone to understand her and just bring a smile to her face. A couple days later I showed up to the homeless shelter and her and I got to talking; she told me as I was leaving that that was the first time she had really ever opened up to anyone about her situation. It really made me happy to bring someone joy in their life that had been struggling for a while to even find happiness. T
his experience has made me more aware of the world today and has really shown me how grateful I should be to have the people that care about me and love me as much as my Aunt Iris does. I am so thankful to have been able to join her on this adventure and to bring a smile to someone’s face just like they brought a smile to mine. I encourage everyone to do their best to make people smile and laugh at least once because that one time can mean the world to them.