For my alternative break trip, I was assigned to the Dallas, Texas group that worked with organizations that focused on the cities food insecurity. On our first day, we went to a food bank called Crossroads Food Bank where we made emergency packages for families to take when they came for their groceries and stocked up the aisles and fridges. The emergency packages included an assortment of drinks, carbs, breakfast items, condiments, grains, or some sort of candy. At Crossroads, each Monday-Wednesday, certain families, who go through extensive interviews and surveys, are allowed to come and get their groceries for the week. We luckily got to help with the shoppers and took them around to get their groceries. The food bank had a little grocery store and it was very rewarding to get to see the families and people that came in. We got to build a brief relationship but you could tell they were so thankful and I really enjoyed the experience. On the second day of service, our group went to a homeless shelter called Austin Street. When we arrived at this place, COVID-19 had just started to really spread through the US and we were a little worried to be so close to so many people in Downtown Dallas however we did not let our fear stop us from having such a great time getting to know this organization and the awesome people that work there. We helped in the laundry room by folding all the donated clothes for the clients that stay at Austin Street. This homeless shelter was the biggest one I have ever seen. They had up to 400 beds and usually had about 400 clients a night, both men and women. We also got to help out in the kitchen were we bagged 400 bags of raisins to hand out during snack time. We were lucky enough to be able to speak with a lot of the clients and hear their stories and learn about their journeys. My week in Dallas was one of the most impactful weeks I have experienced in a long time. I really enjoyed the trip so much and learned so much about myself, food banks, homeless shelters, Dallas, and working together to achieve a common goal but also was just reassured in my path to my career. I really also loved getting to know all of the people on the trip with me; we had such an awesome group of young adults who were eager to help and work together and enjoy each other. I have never felt like I have bonded with a group quicker, we worked so well together. But most importantly, my time spent volunteering was so eye-opening and humbling and truly made me remember how important it is to count our blessings and to always give back to the community.
This past Tuesday I volunteered at my mother’s school where she is a high school ESL teacher. She has recently transitioned to high school and I have been curious about the population she serves. Most of her students are non-English speakers that have recently arrived from Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Yemen and other nations. The school is situated in an underserved community needing more resources than they receive.
During my two hours at Kingsbury High School, i completed a PowerPoint to teach specific vocabulary, gave support to the students as they worked in groups to create their own Declaration of Independence for government class, observed and encouraged them as they presented to the class, and was able to practice speaking in Spanish, which is my major.
My friend and I went back to Hope to continue building a relationship with the church again. In my time as a volunteer, I have not experienced having a family type feeling of volunteering. I spend a lot of time volunteering but I feel I do not always go back and continue manifesting my time and energy into those people but I really like this church and the people there and the group I am helping and spending time with. I have enjoyed meeting all these new faces and making new friends and building more relationships with them. On Friday, we went to help decorate the sanctuary for the special needs dance group called Lucy and Company. Each year they put on a dance show and it is held at Hope. This year the theme is Whoville. We got there and helped put together the cardboard houses and hung up whoville theme decorations with the Grinch on them. Some of the students came and were helping too. I saw an old friend of mine from elementary school, John, who actually goes to Hope and dances in the show. He stayed and we caught up and he helped do some decorating too. I had to work the day of the show but I know it looked great and turned out so beautiful!!!
I went to Hope church to volunteer with the special needs class. My friend went with me because we decided to go volunteer there because we both used to attend Hope Church but she was much more active in the church than I. She used to work with the special needs class at Hope sometimes and we wanted to go back and build some new relationships and begin going back to church there sometimes but also to volunteer more. We started by sitting in the classroom with the kids and just talking and doing some puzzles. I met Adrian and Sara at first and they became my buddies the rest of the time. Shortly, it was time for the service so we all walked together holding hands and just talking. It was so sweet. Sara and I kicked it off immediately, she started talking to me about her birthday and we shared how it was almost my birthday and how fun birthdays are! We got into the sanctuary and we listened to the choir sing and just participated in singing along. We all sat together on a pew and sang along and clapped and smiled and had some more fellowship time. When it became time for the sermon, we left the sanctuary and went back to the classroom. We listened to a story and did some arts and crafts about peace. It was a great time and it was so rewarding to build friendships with these kids. It also felt good to be back in church. I am planning on going back and continuing to volunteer at Hope Church.
A family friend of my moms, Brooke is a manager at Hueys Midtown. She is always in charge of decorating the restaurant for Halloween and Christmas and last year I told her that in the next upcoming years I wanted to help get the decorations and make them and come and put them up. So a couple weeks before Halloween and Christmas, I went to her house and met with her at Hueys to get decorations and for Christmas, she makes this beautiful garland arrangement with lights in and its so beautiful. I love the holidays and I love decorating so I was really excited to help out. Brooke also confided in me that she was not getting much help from her employees that usually are in charge of helping but I was willing and eager to come and help Brooke. It was so much fun and I cannot wait to help decorate next year.
For my spring semester, I worked with my mom again at her school, Douglass Elementary with Carlie, another social change student. My mom is a kindergarten teacher and we worked with her class the whole time. We would plan little activities to do with the kids regarding something they were learning about at the time. The most recent activity we did was focused around Easter and springtime. We brought up some foam eggs and helped the kids decorate them. We had some stick-on water tattoos that were little flowers and spring themed. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed working with the kids. Both Carlie and I are interested in education and working with them was some good experience.
Starting in October 2018, Carlie Keough, another social change student, and I volunteered at Douglas Elementary. My mom is a teacher there and said that the school and some of her colleagues could use some help. Carlie and I went up to the school once a week for one to two hours and help in my moms classroom. We began by just helping her grade papers but then as we continued coming, we started to build relationships with the students and we starting coming up to the school just to work with the kids. We would come during math or reading time and we break off into groups and work with the kids one on one. I have found that I really enjoy working with the students and getting some experience but also building long lasting relationships. I am also really looking forward to continue working with these students.