Service Learning Project
I woke up bright and early 2 hours out of San Antonio where I was camping at with a big group of friends from my crossfit gym. We had scheduled this camping trip months ago so I told them if I came I would have to leave very early for a project. I drove straight home and thought about the volunteer work I signed up for at Haven for Hope. I wondered why it was so easy to volunteer as a class group but when you try to call or book online they make it difficult for volunteers to get in there. In the past I had looked at volunteering at various places because I do enjoy giving back to the community and just being able to help someone else. It’s hard enough for me to find any time to volunteer since I work 2 jobs and go to school full time so when projects like this come up I do stress out. Researching places to volunteer can be difficult because you must get a background check, certain shots, or other various things. Not a lot of people have time to volunteer in the first place but having to go through so many obstacles can be frustrating when all you want to do is help the community.
Upon arriving at Haven for Hope running on 1 hour of sleep I was a little cranky and not in the mood to be around people, which I will admit is selfish. I realized that the shelter was closed on Sundays so I walked around for a bit and found The Food Bank. I told them I was from a humanities class and she had me sign in and write what teacher, what school, my age, and asked me a few questions about the assignment. This annoyed me and I was thinking “Jeez lady just let me volunteer and help out the community” but I kept my thoughts to myself. I asked where do I go and the security guard pointed at a big building inside the closed off arena-looking backyard. Once I walked up to the door I realized it was locked and I sighed thinking “Maybe this volunteer work is not meant to be”. I asked random people outside if they knew where the volunteers go and they looked at me confused. When I saw a man walk out of the building I ran up and caught the door as it was closing. Finally, I’ve gotten somewhere! Inside the building I walk up to a security officer and he directs me toward the kitchen where I stand for quite awhile wondering who I should talk to since there was many people just standing around doing nothing. I finally get answers from a lady that is not very welcoming and she instructs me to put on gloves, a very attractive hair net, and an apron way too big for me. Upon doing so I stand with other people and ask them what we are suppose to be doing, they reply, “Not too sure they aren’t very good at instructing us”. So I look around the very large kitchen and see a broom next to a mop bucket. I find the same lady and asked her if we could be of some help possibly sweep and mop the floors. The woman smiles at me and said go ahead so I grabbed a few others and we made that floor shine!
Once lunchtime actually starts we assemble around the kitchen to get certain jobs. There were so many students volunteering this day that many of the volunteers had nothing to do but cycle out with others that were helping. At this point my attitude was frustrated because I couldn’t be more helpful so I asked one of the workers if it was always like this and he replied, “Sadly no, Many times big classes will come in to help and other days we have no volunteers”. I told him how they make it a difficult process for people to try volunteering and he agreed with me. They need to make it easier and more welcoming for people to volunteer at any place. I also realized how important this volunteer work is in our community because if none of the students are there then the small amount of workers are having to step up and try to be in every place at once to get things done. I learned that not many people really volunteer at all and if they do its normally because of a class project or a court order. At this moment I couldn’t help but think of the reading “Man’s search for meaning” when it says “As the Inner life of the prisoner tended to become more intense, he also experienced the beauty of art and nature as never before” Kind of odd for me to think of this quote because its talk out the Jewish prisoner in an awful camp but what I got out of it is to always look at the bright side. No matter the situation you should always look for the positive and good that surrounds you. So even if I am not really doing much help I looked around and saw the bright side being that an abundance of helping hands is much better than only a few helping hands.
Back to the kitchen my job, which I was cycling with other people, was handing a napkin, fork, and knife to each resident as they went through the lunch line. I thought it was strange that nobody even looked homeless. It must have been my ignorance to think homeless people didn’t shower, do their hair, or keep up with their overall hygiene. Most of what I see of homeless people was the ones that approach me in the park who I give money to because they look awful. I felt foolish for thinking all homeless people must look like this.
Once lunchtime is over, we wait for the residents to leave to clean off the tables and wipe down the seats. A few that was still sitting down told us “Thank you for being here”. It was nice to be told thank you. I felt good that I was able to come and help even if I just stood around most the time and handed out a few utensils. I was still physically there as support and I set an example for my friends that I told about where I was volunteering at. So at this point I’m thinking, “I did make a difference even if it was small”. This point makes me think of the reading “Philosophical Egoism” when she ask us “Can an individual ever act only according to her own interests without regard for others interests?” and the answer is no. When we volunteer we feel good about what we did no matter if anyone said thank you or not. We are selfish creatures therefore even if we try to do something unselfishly most of the time we are still praised for it. I think what the reading assignment is trying to tell us is be aware of our egotistical ways when we think of doing something “nice” for someone else. Whether or not it was frustrating at first I’m sure the more and more you volunteer it gets easier and you know what to do when you get there. By the end of the volunteer work I felt good about what I did and asked one of the workers if I could return soon. He told me I would need to go online and fill out all the proper paperwork in order to come back so I started feeling annoyed again. Overall I felt great for doing this volunteer work but I probably won’t do it again for a long time because of the annoying process they make you go through.