I am helping at the Uptown shelter, it is a men’s homeless shelter that houses over 250 men at a time. Charlotte is home to over 5,000 homeless people. That total includes people who are living on the streets, staying in shelters and with friends and family, or living in transitional or permanent supportive housing. Nearly half of these people are families; and more than a third are children. These numbers are shocking to hear about, the uptown shelter is working to help homeless men get back on their feet. Volunteers are always needed in these types of organizations, whether its tasks like helping the men with resumes to get jobs, pick out clothes, or even make lunch for them. I am going to be working on serving over 250 men when I go to volunteer. I have some fears, one is about getting to the shelter and back and the other is the people themselves. I tend to have a lot of black males follow me on the streets, try to talk to me, and yell out from their cars to me. However going to the orientation the homeless men there seemed to be very nice and polite to me, smiling and not making creepy comments to me. I hope to gain more knowledge about how easy it is to become homeless and stay homeless, I know I want to learn more about people’s stories on how they got to where they are, and also I am just going to really enjoy preparing food for that many people and hope they appreciate my efforts. Many perceptions that some people may have are that these people never graduated from high school, never went to college, never had families, and just have always been poor. Some may think that all of them do drugs or have addiction problems, that may be true in some peoples cases but I have more of an open mind towards people. I believe that I am a kind hearted individual who just always wants to help people. A lot of people feel that it is very easy to open up to me and I am hoping that I can help some of these people that are going to this shelter. I don’t really have the same mentality a lot people have for homeless people, I’m not scared, I don’t feel guilty and think I have to give them money or give them food, I don’t look at them as they are under me, I look at them as regular people. Last year I would always pass this homeless guy Archie on the street going to work, he is very religious and very thankful for everything he ever gets. I would talk to him all the time and he would always come into Jimmy Johns whenever he could get enough money to get a sandwich. He was super appreciative of everything we ever gave him and I know that everyone who worked there liked him. He never came in begging for food or anything and he was very polite. He didn’t match the typical stereotype for a black homeless man. I am really excited about starting my volunteering and only nervous about going there by myself.
CSL Pre-Visit Journal Entry #2 September 26, 2009