Tag: service (page 1 of 7)

“More Than Just Spring Break” by Brittany Connely

As a freshman, there are so many options for student organizations to get involved in. The possibilities seem endless, especially when attending the Fall Involvement Fair. Seeing all the tables all around campus is simultaneously overwhelming and exciting. Like many of my Honors friends that I made in Redding, I wanted to get involved as much as I could. Therefore, I signed up for as many clubs as I could.

One of the programs that I signed up to be involved with was UD’s Alternative Break Program (UDaB). I have always had a passion for serving my community and thought it would be amazing to spend my Spring Break in another city with a group of students just as passionate about service as I am. So, when it came time for applications to be opened, I filled out the form right when it was released. After several workshops and interviews, I found out that I had gotten into the Spring Program in Boston, working at Community Servings, a non-profit organization that makes meals for individuals and families living with chronic illnesses. I was ecstatic to be in a new place serving others. Continue reading

“UDaB and Me” by Erin Jackson

A huge number of people on this campus participate in service, and an impressively large group go on alternative break programs. It simply blows my mind how many people are not only willing – but unbelievably enthusiastic – to dedicate the one week they have off during an otherwise non-stop semester to go on one of these programs. Nothing about this process is easy—socially, financially, emotionally, physically, or mentally. When you sign up to spend a week of your life with near strangers somewhere you’ve never been before, meeting people or experiences you’ve never encountered before, you’re not just stepping out of your comfort zone—you’re leaping into a whole new realm of unknown that cannot compare to anything you’ve done before. I’m sure everyone knows someone who has done an alternative break and come back physically incapable of talking about anything else. However, since my program left the day after Christmas and came back just at the start of winter session, I missed my chance to go off about what an amazing program it was—and that’s actually not what I want to talk about here. I want to talk about the people who made this program what it was. Continue reading

How I Changed My Own Life

This past spring break I went on a UDaB trip, although that isn’t really the main point. Yes, the trip was amazing. Yes, I made 40 new best friends. Yes, it was the freaking Everglades. But the point really isn’t what I did this spring break. The point is what I didn’t do this spring break.

Just like any other college student –scratch that, just like any other human- I have had my fair share of struggles with positivity. I’ll be the first to admit that some weeks it just feels like the world is out to get me and nothing can go my way. I’ve had those days where I have to force myself to get out of bed. Those moments where the stress bears down on me and I’m ready to quit college/run away/become an exotic dancer. This spring break, though, I decided that I was going to throw all of my negativity away. Literally. During the first day of the trip, we did a group exercise in which we wrote our anxieties down on a piece of paper, ripped them up, and threw them away. From that point on, I made a personal vow to myself that for one week I was going to try to make the best out of every situation. No longer would I let myself be controlled by my own unconstructive mindset. So, through all the poisonous plants, thousands of bug bites, and sunburn the Florida Everglades had to offer, I stayed positive. For the first time in my life I listened to the cliché advice all those YouTube self-help guru’s preach: happiness is a choice. Choose to be happy and you will be.

The Florida Everglades provided an inspired setting for an inspirational experience

The Florida Everglades provided an inspired setting for an inspirational experience

I have been trying to take step back from everything in my life that has become the “norm.” Instead of settling for the usual and getting sucked into bad habits, I’ve been looking at situations and trying to decide, really decide, if they are adding to my overall well-being. I no longer want to be put into circumstances that bring out the negativity in me. I’ve learned that it is much easier to be positive when the influences around me are positive. With more positive influences, I’ve noticed that everything that has happened to me has been able to be flipped on its head and looked at differently. Yes, I got a ticket today at a parking meter. At least I have a car to be ticketed. Yes, I was late to work and forgot to take my eyebrow ring out. At least I have a job with a forgiving manager.

I wouldn’t quite say that I have made it to happiness yet. What I will say though, is that deciding to look at the world differently has made the world different. Since making this personal choice I have started doing a lot more things for me. I’ve gone back to the gym, begun eating healthier, ended a few toxic relationships, and become more active in my commitments here on campus. All of this is possible because of an influential trip, with a great organization, and fantastic people. They showed me how easy it can be to take charge of my own life for the better. It does take courage though. I’m just glad I was able to find mine.

~Madeline Williams

Let’s Play Some Dominoes – Part 2

“Every action in our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.” ~Edwin Hubbel Chapin

Toward the end of last semester, I wrote about my experience volunteering with my service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, at The Friendship House’s Saturday Morning Sanctuary. This experience really made me think about community service and why it is important to help those in need. I felt like a changed person afterward. This past Saturday, I was able to volunteer at Saturday Morning Sanctuary once more, and those feelings were strengthened from the experience.

I entered the same church with my group, wondering if I would see the man I talked to last time, Peter, again. Part of me did not want him to be there; I was hoping that over the winter his situation improved and that he did not need to come to the sanctuary any longer. The other part of me, however, wanted to see him once more. I told him that I would come back, and I wanted to keep that promise.

As we began to hand out cups, sugar, and hot chocolate packets, I noticed a man walking over who looked very familiar. I wasn’t sure why at first, but then I realized who it was – Peter. His hair was shorter than the last time I saw him, but other than that he looked the same. We introduced ourselves and he told me that I looked familiar. I reminded him of the time I came last semester, and he remembered in an instant who I was and what we had talked about! I ended up sitting with him for a little to catch up. We talked about politics, traveling, our families, anything that we could think of! He was the same kind, intelligent person who I had met before.

Later on, I noticed a man sitting in the corner of the room carving what looked like the face of a lion into a long wooden walking stick. Bill, the man in charge of the sanctuary, asked the carving man, Marshall, to show us his other pieces, and he ran out of the room only to come pack with two large bags filled with more walking sticks. He pulled them out one by one, showing us the intricate carvings that he had made into the wood; each had its own story. He used techniques, like burning the wood, to shade the sticks, and he planned on eventually using paint to color them and personalize them for potential clients. He wasn’t doing it for money, though; he was doing it because he loved it. It was a way for him to escape for a little bit and do something that made him happy. And, boy, was he good at it! They were beautiful! I wanted to buy one right then and there, but, alas, I am a broke college kid.

After hearing Marshall’s spiel, we went back to handing out cups and sugar. I noticed that each person who came up to us was so kind and friendly. They all wanted to have conversations with us, even if they were only a few sentences long. The experience really reinforced what I had learned last time – that the stigmas behind homelessness simply aren’t true. Not having a stable living situation does not make you any less of a human; it just makes you more vulnerable. That is why it was so important that we volunteered there; it gave these people a chance to focus on something other than their lifestyle for a few hours and have meaningful, friendly conversations with another person.

I like to think that some day homelessness will no longer be a problem in our society, but I may be too optimistic. In the meantime, I can continue to volunteer my time to these people and do my best to get them to where they want to be in life. I know that what I did may not seem like much, but even the smallest action can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

~Heather Brody

Let’s Play Some Dominoes

Recently I volunteered with the Friendship House of Delaware at their “Saturday Morning Sanctuary” and I don’t think I will ever forget my experience. I didn’t know what to expect going into it. We entered a church in Wilmington at 8:00 in the morning to find homeless people sitting at tables, playing games and talking to each other. Some of them wouldn’t take their eyes off us. Bill, the man in charge of the event, told us that the Friendship House was an organization dedicated to helping the homeless. Every winter, they open up churches to let homeless people in to have a warm, safe place to stay on Saturday mornings. Pretty much everything was donated: coffee, tea, hot chocolate, pastries, hats, gloves, and board games. Our job as volunteers was to simply talk to the people who were staying in the church for the morning and make them feel like they are being treated like “human beings,” as Bill said. It made me a bit uncomfortable to hear him say those things right in front of all of the homeless men and women sitting nearby. Could you imagine someone talking about you like that? How must these people feel, knowing that they are not seen as important enough to be treated like human beings by some people?

Bill brought me and the two other volunteers to a few people who he knew were friendly and were comfortable sharing their situations with volunteers. I spoke to a man named Peter for most of my time there. The stereotypes of homeless people are so ridiculous; the idea that they are all just crazy people who were not motivated enough to keep up a stable lifestyle is completely untrue. Peter is one of the smartest people I have ever met. He is always reading and is interested in knowing about current events and what is happening in the world, which is more than I can say about most of my peers at the University of Delaware, honestly. He is passionate about music and about languages and traveling and movies and he even recommended some films that he thought I would enjoy watching. I also met a man named Michael who was one of the friendliest people I have ever met. He walked over to me and asked if I wanted to play dominoes with him, and we played game after game. He always had a smile on his face and a joke to tell.

I feel like people wouldn’t expect these things from a homeless person. So they don’t have a home. Why should that take away a person’s intelligence, kindness, dignity, or their humanity? Some of these people have dealt with horrible things – depression, suicide attempts, incarceration, divorce – and I think it is disgusting to look down upon them for their economic situations.

At around 11:00, Bill announced that the church would be closing and that everyone would have to leave. I said goodbye to my new friends, and was filled with sadness as they left. Where will they go now? What is going to happen to them? It was so cold outside and while I had the comfort of knowing in the back of my mind that I would end up in my warm on-campus dorm, these people did not have that privilege. It makes me so angry to think about how unfair it is that some people in this country have millions of dollars just sitting in their bank accounts, while other people are out on the streets with just a backpack to hold all of their belongings. We live in such a cruel world. But all I know is that I made a difference to Peter and Michael for one morning. I offered them a smile and some friendly interaction, something that Bill said they do not usually have due to their living situations. I gave them a few hours in which they could forget about their own lives and just have a friend that they could play with and talk to. Something as simple as that can truly mean a lot to someone.

I plan on volunteering with the Friendship House more often at their “Saturday Morning Sanctuary” events and I hope that I have convinced other readers to help out as well. Especially during this time of year, it is important to give back and to be thankful for what you have because you never know when you may lose it all.

Heather, Bill, and two other volunteers inside the church.

Heather, Bill, and two other volunteers inside the church.

The list of movies that Peter gave to Heather.

The list of movies that Peter gave to Heather.

~Heather Brody

Older posts

© 2024

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Skip to toolbar