Tag Archives: Homeless

170

19 Jan

VOLUNTEER

YESTERDAY

What a stressful place my head was yesterday morning. I was filled with inner dialogue about everything and anything…365 til 30…posts…life…money…book proposals…laundry…writing assignments…to do lists…meetings….social media…blah…blah…blah. The laundry was seriously stressing me out- I had left the house that morning with boy shorts on as underwear because I had run out of everything else. Classy. Then I went to a fitting were a dog ate my ballet flats when I took them off and I had to walk around the rest of the day with holes in the heel of my shoes. Surprisingly, I was able to see the humor in that as I wobbled into starbuck’s for a coffee.

Yesterday also happened to be the day I was scheduled to start my first day as a volunteer at PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) writing resume cover letters for the residents to help them (hopefully) get jobs.  I have been looking forward to starting at PATH for the last two weeks. I was really excited to find this organization because I have been wanting to work on a more one on one basis with individuals.

Cut to yesterday…I was pulling up to my volunteer session and feeling very tapped out. Wasn’t sure if I had anything to give that day AND I couldn’t stop thinking about getting home to do the pile of laundry and all the other things I wanted to do for myself.   I even thought about going home and starting the volunteer committment next week.  Truly selfish, huh? But….I didn’t.

When I walked in I was brought to the job center and introduced to Julie. The team leader explained to her that I would be assisting her in writing cover letters and helping her to apply for jobs. She looked up at me and her lip started to quiver and she started to tear. It wasn’t the response I was expecting and my heart broke…seriously broke. All the things I had been worrying about seemed so utterly pathetic and small. What a crap I am, I thought, so worried about little things when my life is pretty perfect. Sure I have worries and concerns like everybody but I have a roof over my head, a job, love in my life and 365 til 30 (which is like my baby).

I hugged Julie and told her it would be better. That we would make it better…somehow…someway…we would make it better that day and she said “ok thanks”. We sat down and spent hours writing cover letters. I finally felt like I was in my day and totally with the person in front of me – and not in my head. Nothing else was on my agenda but finding Julie a job. We even started to have some fun with them. I also enjoyed hearing about her life and wants and hopes and talents. She is a lovely, smart, funny and honest person. At the end of the afternoon she gave me a big hug and said thank you and that she was excited to send them out. I felt like I was skipping on rainbows the rest of the afternoon.

My perspective had changed. It’s funny when you are feeling stuck in your own worries, you sometimes forget that a whole other world exists out there.

As I was walking out the door I overheard the team leader tell another resident this…

“Keep your eyes on the prize and the right door will open for you”

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Please contact PATH if you would like to volunteer for the organization.

320

22 Aug

DAY 1 : VOLUNTEER

Yesterday was one of the best days of my 29th year. I was humbled and inspired by the human spirit. My heart was so was so filled with emotion, I thought it was going to burst. This experience left me with a change in perspective and very grateful for my life. I will be going back many many many Sundays.

When starting 365 til 30, I knew I wanted to work with the homeless for my volunteer goal but had no organization in mind. Last week I was on the internet and stumbled upon Food On Foot and from what I saw on the site, signed up to volunteer.

For the last 807 Sundays, Food On Foot founder, Jay Goldinger and a small group of volunteers have been feeding LA’s homeless, which is a beautiful thing on its own but  he takes it one step further. He created a program called The Work For Food Program, which gives the homeless the opportunity to sweep the streets every Sunday morning to earn extra food cards. After working for ten consecutive weeks they graduate to the next level. Over the course of a year of hard work they gain the opportunity to get help with medical and dental problems and even see a 3,000 bank account opened in their name while being provided with safe housing and help getting a real job. How amazing is that?

Jay requires something else from everyone in the program. He demands that they complete a random act of kindness each week. A simple reminder that a human beings true worth isn’t ever money but instead what we do for others. To witness people who have so little do this is inspiring.

I was also given the opportunity to hear the stories of two Work For Food graduates. They shared how they ended up on the streets, what it was like for them, how they found the program and what it did for them. They also shared what their lives looked like now. When they got to this part their smiles shined bright. They pulled themselves out from the lowest depths and earned their dignity back. I was so moved by their bravery, attitude, honesty and grace that I felt a little shaken.

After hearing their stories it was time to do what we had come to do and feed the 500 men, woman and children waiting for a meal. Each volunteer was given a job on the food line- mine was passing out Quaker Oat bars. We were told to make an effort to interact with each person considering they don’t get the opportunity to do so very often.  So with each person I handed an oat bar to I made a point to look at them straight in the eye and with as much love as I could offer. Every single one of them smiled back, read my name tag and said “Thank you, Kate”. Those 3 very simple words had never meant so much  or held as much weight.

I am beyond grateful I took the opportunity to contribute to Food On Foot, even in a small way. Even if it was just a smile. I hope in the next year I am lucky enough to witness many of these beautiful souls find their way back to the lives they desire. Because, who doesn’t deserve that?

As the volunteers were packing up the founder Jay left us with this Italian Proverb…

“At the end of the game, The King and The Pawn go back in the same box.”

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