Yesterday, I volunteered with a local organization dedicated to helping the homeless of the city in that I live. Not sure whether or not I should name the city or the organization, I’ll opt not to for right now. Sorry, folks!
I was excited to go and see an area of town that I rarely see. Of course the homeless are visible here: unlike in Rwanda, where the police shuttle the homeless or unemployed out of the city, the homeless here can be seen anywhere from benches, metro stops, and church block steps.
I immediately fell in love with the organization where I volunteered, mainly because it has a refreshingly different take on charity. It takes donations, and it provides furniture, clothing, kitchen supplies, and basic goods free-of-charge to those who make it onto their waiting lists. It’s not forcing people to meet a certain standard before they can get services. It simply provides transportation to-and-from the organization, and it provides important, staple goods to its clients. And it follows-up! It makes sure that its clients are still doing well after they leave.
The thing that set them apart for me was the importance they set on preserving human dignity – while I was there, my only job was to fold things: to make sure that the area where clients could pick out clothes and bedding was clean; to make it look nice, rather than like a thrift store; and to throw away items that were filthy, or give away stained items to thrift stores (where they can be properly cleaned, I should note). This organization emphasized giving with dignity. Clients could receive important items, and proudly leave, ready to move on to their next step in life.
Right now, I can’t say that I’ve accomplished anything – I can’t cross this item off my list yet (and probably won’t anytime soon), but I hope that this holiday season we continue to remember the dignity of those around us; that we are constantly surrounded by living, breathing, human souls.
What about you guys? Anyone have any volunteering plans before the end of the year?