May 1, 2007

Overall analysis of my experience at Simpson

Looking back at my volunteer experience at Simpson Housing I’m definitely glad that I did it. I originally took this course because I procrastinated in registering for my classes and by the time I did it was one of the few left that satisfied my general. I think this was a blessing in disguise. I’ve always known that it was “good? to do volunteer work, but I feel like this class helped me get a better understanding of how it helps and why it is important. People who are more fortunate naturally should help those less fortunate, to make the world a better place for everyone. I realize that is kind of cliché, but I can’t think of a better way to say it.
The only regret I have about Simpson is that it wasn’t very “hands on? work. I was simply there to supervise and make sure nothing went wrong with any of the guests. Working towards some sort of goal that will directly benefit those less fortunate seems to me like it would be much more rewarding. For example, I think it would be a great experience to help build low-income houses for the homeless. Even preparing meals would be satisfactory. I plan to continue my work at Simpson next fall. I think as I gain more experience there, I will slowly gain more responsibility and will be able to have a greater positive influence on the guests. In the meantime, I’m going to keep my eyes open for other opportunities around the community.

April 13, 2007

2nd Overnight Stay at Simpson

Three days ago I volunteered overnight at the Simpson Housing Shelter for the second time. This time I knew what to expect going in, which I thought was very comforting. I was considered an actual volunteer this time, instead of just a shadow, so I actually had a few responsibilities. For the most part, though, the volunteers are just there to supervise and make sure that nothing goes wrong.
I was able to recognize some of the guests this time, and I think they recognized me as well. I talked to one guy for a while that I had talked to a little bit the first time I was there. He explained to me how he had been laid off from his job and couldn't find another decent job. He said that he had no family to fall back on, because they were all struggling financially as well. He hoped it would only be a matter of time before he was able to find another job that would support him. Hearing this helped me realize why places like Simpson are so helpful and necessary. Everybody makes mistakes in life, and some people are fortunate enough to have people around them who can pick them up and support them. For those who aren't fortunate enough to have these people in their lives, these types of places can be that support that they need. Volunteering at Simpson has been an awakening experience, and I'm glad I'm participating. I know everyone says this, but it really does help me to appreciate everything that I have.

March 29, 2007

First Overnight Stay at Simpson

This Tuesday I got my first opportunity to say overnight and volunteer at the Simpson homeless shelter. Each night at Simpson, there are 2 volunteers along with the employees. Since it was my first night, I was a shadow, meaning that I just watched what the volunteers did to get an idea of the process. After getting lost on the way there, I showed up about a half an hour late. When I walked in there were already a lot of people there and I got a lot of weird looks, probably because I was the only person there under 30. I introduced myself to all the employees and volunteers and they were all very nice and grateful that I had come in.
Growing up, I always that thought you it was easy to pick a homeless person out of a lineup. I assumed they would probably look dirty and noticeably depressed. Staying at Simpson helped me realize how wrong I was. Most of the people there looked completely "normal" (whatever that is). This was probably the most surprising thing to me. I got a chance to talk to a few of the people staying at the shelter, which was a good experience. The ones I talked to were very grateful to the homeless shelter and seemed like genuine people. It was sad for me to see them in their situation.
Before going, I thought that it might be kind of weird to sleep at a homeless shelter. Fortunately, I didn't find it weird at all and was plenty comfortable. My experience at Simpson was definitely a positive one, and I look forward to continuing my volunteer experience with them, possibly even after this course is complete.

March 22, 2007

Orientation at Simpson

Last Friday I had my orientation meeting at Simpson Housing Services. I didn't know what to expect. All I knew was that it was a homeless shelter, but since I'd never been to a homeless shelter before, that didn't provide a lot of background. I walked in about a half hour late after getting lost trying to find the place. It turned out that it was only me and 2 girls that were being "trained in", so it wasn't a big deal. The lady that was training us in was very nice, and seemed extraordinarily sincere. We went over some papers about their policy, and also some dealing with what-to-do in certain situations. Then, she showed us around the facility. The first room she showed us was the lounge. This is where the people staying for the night watched TV, read, or played board games. She proceeded to show us the storage closet where people were able to get limited amounts of items for free. After seeing a few other rooms, she took us to the "bedroom". The people staying at the shelter for the night sleep in a big room with white walls and a wooden floor. Their beds are simply about 6 by 2 foot mats, that are lined up in rows that cover the entire room. It was sort of shocking for me to see this sleeping situation.
Being at the homeless shelter gave me a very good idea of what I'm going to be experiencing when I actually get to volunteer there. I no longer have any real uncertainty about volunteering. I think it will be worthwhile and I'm sure I will get to see a lot of interesting people. I have never really volunteered like this in my life, and I think it is good to see people who have dedicated their lives to helping those less fortunate. My first night at Simpson will be this Tuesday, and I'm excited to finally get started.

March 6, 2007

Middletown Reading

I thought this reading was very interesting and I feel like it was worth reading. I think the people who executed this study did a good job of viewing Middletown from an objective point of view. It was very insightful, and did well in showing how things have changed in America over the past 100 years or so. However, I was unable to draw any real conclusions from the article. It is hard to say whether the charity process has gotten “better? or “worse? since 1890. The answer to this question cannot be answered in black and white. Though, I was able to draw a few pieces of information that showcase how charity in America has changed. It seems to me that the charity “system? present in the U.S. today is much more mechanized. As a result of this, it has also become less personal. Face-to-face interactions of charity are much less common today. Instead, donation is often accomplished through large non-profit organizations. An efficient but arguably less adequate system has been developed.
It seems to me that people today sometimes give to charity for the wrong reasons. Instead of giving out of sympathy for the needy and out of the kindness of their hearts, they give for alternate reasons. I think that today there is a substantially greater amount of social pressure put on the average citizen to give. They feel like they should , or have to give to charity, and therefore they do. Another reason people may give to charity is for recognition from others, thereby improving their public image. Of course I’m not saying that I believe these cases are always true. However I feel like the average citizen of the United States needs to wake up and realize that there are real people out there in desperate situations. A relatively minute sacrifice on their part can do wonders for those less fortunate. They need to start giving out pure empathy.

February 13, 2007

Why I chose the Simpson Housing Shelter

I grew up in a small town in rural minnesota, where homelessness was never really an issue. I feel like I've been fairly sheltered for the greater part of my life, which kind of bothers me in a way. I think that if I were to see the struggles that some of the less fortunate people have it would help me to better appreciate everything that I have. Also, I truly am sympathetic to the people who are in these sort of situations. I hope the time that I spend can have an actual impact and that I can make a difference.

I'm not really worried about spending the night at the homeless shelter, as far as safety is concerned. The only thing I'm worried about at all is how the people that have to spend the night there accept me. I hope they don't think that I look down on them at all because of the situation that they're currently in. I'm sure it would be easy for them to get that impression. I guess the real reason I chose the Simpson Homeless Shelter is so that I could see the life of a homeless person first hand. I'm interested to see exactly what kind of help our local community is providing for these people. I realize that simply feeling bad for someone does nothing to actually help their situation, which is why I'm glad that I'm going to attempt to contribute something to their lives.

January 18, 2007

Why did you choose the "Community Learning" section of composition? What experiences have you had working in the community? How do you define "service?"

I chose the Community Learning section of composition because it seemed to me that it would be less specific than many of the other options. I thought that it would cover a more broad view of subjects, rather than focusing more in depth on a limited subjects. I haven't had a lot of experience working in the community thus far, aside from a few food drives run by my church and high school. I look forward to gaining some experience during this course. I define service as sacrificing one's own time and effort to help others in need.