Going about our daily lives, we may see homeless people when we exit the freeway or while we walk through the Plaza. In just a moment of a busy day, we seem somebody living a different lifestyle than us but then continue on with our day. After a few times of seeing the same man at a certain intersection, we often stop noticing the loneliness in his eyes.
But when we are removed from our comfortable environment and get a chance to step back and look at life differently, it just might change the way we think about these moments. A Saturday Project at Hope Faith Ministries can do this.
On October 15, three Youth Volunteers were up not long after dark to serve at Hope Faith—a local day center for homeless people in downtown Kansas City. We swept the nearby streets, picked up trash and helped with countless loads of laundry. But most of all, we met the faces we’ve all grown accustomed to passing.
Working alongside Hope Faith staff members, they introduced us to the clients of the shelter. We met such a huge variety of people in just one morning and greeted everybody. We were instantly welcomed into this community of homeless people, who all thanked us profusely for helping them clean up their area. Picking up trash on the streets may seem like an insignificant task, but we soon realized that we were cleaning up these people’s home.
And there’s no better way to get to know someone but spend some time with them in their home.After we’d cleaned up the nearby streets, we went back in the shelter to help with several loads of laundry. With most of us lucky enough to have a washer and dryer in our houses, we wouldn’t consider laundry a luxury. But by helping with this task, we could imagine how difficult it would be to wash your clothes without access to something like this.
After four hours of hard work, we all went home to our warm houses with fully stocked kitchens a little more grateful than when we’d left that morning. And we just might smile at that homeless man at the intersection instead of ignoring him.
This past weekend we had an extremely informative meeting based on the idea of philanthropy. Three speakers came and talked about their job and why they are so passionate about it. The speakers came from Synergy, Salvation Army, and Hallmark. All of which have a drive and love for philanthropy. The one that stuck out to me the most, however, was the speaker from Salvation Army. He talked about the process of what they do, alongside with why he loves to do it. He talked about how he doesn’t want recognition for what he does, but he just wants to make a difference. To me this is should be the very basis of social work. With social work, it’s not about the person volunteering, but the reason they are volunteering. The way he spoke about his job really struck a chord with me. Here’s a person who doesn’t want huge amounts of money, but is still extremely happy. This was the case with all three speakers. Each and every one of them had a huge smile when talking about their jobs. It’s because they are doing something they love, not something that will make them rich. I believe that this is what philanthropy does to a person. It makes them see the bigger picture. It makes them appreciate life and the people living it.
This, and last month's YAB meeting was focused on Philanthropy as a lifestyle....
This month, three guest speakers were invited to share with us how they contribute to the community through their career.
-Jessica Miller, a former Team Leader talked about her work with Synergy. Synergy is a non-profit organization that aids people of all ages living in unsafe environments. Jessica works with teenagers in their transitional living program. Community service has helped Jessica get to where she is now, after Synergy, she plans to become a High school enlish teacher in the inter city.
-Andy Wheeler also talked to us about all the AMAZING things the salvation army does for the community. Last year the salvation army collected 1.7 million dollars!
-Amy Winterscheidt (my mom!) also came to talk to us about corporate philanthropy. Amy works for Hallmark, a company that believes it owes the community. Hallmark does a lot for the community, anything from giving money to sending out their employees to volunteer. Amy is in charge of organizing a lot of the philanthropy Hallmark does.
I would like to thank all of the guest speakers for not only taking time out of their Saturday to talk to us, but also for all the amazing contributions they have given to our community. It's truly inspiring to get the chance to meet so many people who have done wonderful things with their career.
For our icebreaker, YABers discovered they knew quite a bit about each other.
We got a few free t-shirts too... It was pretty cool!
So on Sunday, October 16th, we had a fantastic event. AIDOS- All Ideologies Day Of Service. We had the event at Sanctuary of Hope, a perfect fit since many religious groups go there to pray and be at peace with nature.
The event was a great success! We had over 30 volunteers come! Everyone helped by cleaning, raking, shoveling, digging, watering and so much more! It was a great opportunity for so many diverse people to come together and work for the same cause.
Team Leader Joshua had some great service learning questions so we could all realize how different we all really are. We all also played a huuuggeee game of the human knot!! It was a blast.
All of the Team Leaders are so grateful to everyone who came out and participated this fall! We all got so much done and hopefully learned a little more about each other in the process.
This month in YAB.....
-The Team Leaders talked about how they've made giving back to the community a lifestyle and a career.
It was amazing that the team leaders were willing to share their stories with us, and YABers got the chance to learn more about our new YVC family members! I really enjoyed this because we get to talk to people who got to give back and help the community, and it was their job!!!!!!
-We began making personalized YVC handshakes!!!!!!!!!
-We also discussed fun ideas for ADIOS, other YAB meetings and a future Stories Of Service!!!! (I believe a chocolate fountain was mentioned!)
-Finally, the much anticipated YAB government was put into place, ready to take over the world with community service (and love and hopefully unicorns).
All in all the YAB boardroom was jam packed (literally) with fabulous people, great ideas and tons of fun!
Most high students my age would think me crazy for, or at least cringe at the mention of, attending meeting about volunteering at 10 am on a Saturday (not like that’s really that early, but that’s beside the point). But there I was in the YVCKC conference room, stuffed to the brim with other Youth Advisory Board (YAB) members.At the meeting, the second of this YVC year which runs parallel to the school year plus the summer months, we began with an icebreaker about our favorite things. The meeting continued and some basic plans for new YAB meetings and speakers, Saturday and afterschool projects, and events such as AIDOS. We also did another icebreaker, this one involving creating creating a handshake for reach member of the board which will be continued throughout the meetings.
The group was then split up into teams where they could spend some time with each of the new team leaders and learn about philanthropy as a lifestyle and how they had come to where they are now and possible directions they might be heading in this area. I learned about the definition of volunteering and her philosophy on this type of work from Maggie, living and working in a community with Joshua, and poverty that we associate with third world countries in the U.S. from Jessica. With Jordan, my group explored the idea that a change of plans isn’t bad and the importnace of making non-materialistic connections with those we help with Amanda.
I’m very much looking forward to this year of volunteering. I can tell this one is going to be pretty amazing.
Saturday happened to be the most uplifting experience for me to this date. Learning of all the different ways to help and be informed really helped me determine the course I am going to take in my life. Hearing about philanthropy rocked my boat the most. I feel like it's my duty to inform and act on the thing I feel most passionate about: poverty. This talk helped me get to the base of it. I came away from that meeting on a philanthropy high! :)