For my community service project I chose to volunteer at Saint Johnr’s Womenr’s shelter in Sacramento. Through my volunteering hours I helped serve the women dinner and set up the tables for their dinner. My first day volunteering I found that I was extremely nervous, for the work itself and to see women in poverty. Once I was directed to the kitchen and instructed on what I had to do my nerves calmed down. When dinner time arrived I was sad for what I found. Not only were these women in bad shape but many of them had 2 to 4 children with them. They were kind and extremely thankful for the work I was putting in. I found that many of the people I was serving were girls my age who seemed to have run away from abusive situations.
This fact hits close to home for me and was the reason I chose to volunteer at a women’s shelter in the first place. I felt that the work I was putting in was a very good thing, everyone was so grateful to my mom and I as we gave them their food. After I volunteered I had questions, how is Sacramento helping our homeless population? How many homeless does Sacramento have? And what can I do to help? These are three questions that I chose to research after my time at Saint Johnr’s. It turns out that according to the Sacramento Bee Sacramento County’s homeless population rose 30 percent between 2015 and 2017. This is a sad fact that I believe needs to be further addressed in our schools. Privileged schools like Granite Bay allow us to live in a bubble. Kids that go to our school are unaware of the poverty happening in our own backyard.
I lived in Downtown Sacramento in 7th and 8th grade and was able to watch the homeless population rise in that short time. Volunteering at Saint Johnr’s allowed me to see what happens to people as they are experiencing homelessness. Saint Johnr’s program is targeted towards women who are experiencing homelessness due to an abusive situation. It allows the women to live in a safe place with meals and rooms. They accept volunteers through the week not only to serve dinner but to take care of children and serve breakfast. This program and many others should be brought up in schools as places that kids need to go. Helping our community was something that wasnt brought up until senior year, I think that it would improve the quality of many peoples work if students were required to do a small amount every year, then this amount could be increased slowly allowing kids to get used to volunteering each year. By forcing kids to volunteer once their senior year it turns this great project into a job for many of my peers. This project broadened my horizons, I plan to continue to volunteer with Saint Johnr’s as frequently as I am able.
I enjoyed seeing the smile on the women’s faces when they were able to get their food. It goes to show that the little things are really what counts. For kids in our school I think this project has a great lesson to teach. I had only volunteered once before this project, my stepmother worked at Brighton Preschool my freshman year of high school so I had the opportunity to volunteer in her class. I had a lovely experience playing and teaching the kids. Looking back now that I have volunteered somewhere with poverty stricken families I can see the sharp contrast between the preschoolers that went to Brighton vs the kids in Saint Johnr’s. The kids in Saint Johns seemed to be quieter, they were more excited for their food when the time came to eat, and they were less picky about what they were eating. When the kids at Brighton were served there was always many complaints about what was on the menu that day. There was almost always a breakdown at meal time, and they were not as thankful for their food. It makes me sad to think that the kids in Saint Johnr’s will grow up not knowing when their next meal is. No child should go hungry.
Above are pictures of the Saint Johnr’s dinner services, when we serve dinner they get protein, carbs, vegetables and a fruit. I enjoyed meeting the other volunteers during my time at Saint Johnr’s as well. One woman who was volunteering told me her story, she used to be in the Saint John’s program but was able to pull herself out. She now has a job and volunteers for Saint Johnr’s on the weekends to repay them for helping her and her children. Kids in America today dont understand that there is such poverty in our country. We see on our phones that there is poverty in other countries but rarely acknowledge the poverty in our own backyard. By bettering our own country we are bettering ourselves. Another benefit to this project is that it allows kids to gain more experience in case we need references for job applications. There are so many benefits that are apparent to volunteering.
I may have donated my time to Saint Johnr’s women’s shelter but volunteering for the humane society, volunteering to build a home for a family, or giving back to those who lost their home in Paradise are all amazing volunteering opportunities. Volunteering gives you an opportunity to change people’s lives, It allows you to play a role in someone else’s life. Helping people who may not be able to help themselves is an amazing quality to gain. Volunteering is a way of giving back to your community while developing important social skills, and gaining valuable work experience all at the same time. Overall my experience with this project was extremely fulfilling. I was able to meet people that I otherwise never would have met. I felt that being in the positive environment was rejuvenating. As well as meeting new people I was able to help people in less fortunate situations as me. I enjoyed feeling productive and helpful. This project taught me many good lessons and has pushed me to try to volunteer regularly from now on.
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