I would like to say that I am the kind of person who truly cares about everyone and their feelings. Living in the city I had never seen so many homeless people in my life. A lot of people find them to be scary, or they cross the street just to avoid walking past them. I find it amusing watching people and how they react to homeless people. Last year walking to work I made friends with a homeless guy named Archie. He was unlike the stereotypical homeless man. He doesn’t do drugs and he is extremely religious. He believes that what happens to him is what God wants for him. I really enjoyed talking to Archie and even though he would kind of hit on me, it was in a respectful way and not in a creepy way. He would always try to scrape together as much change as possible and come into the sub shop where I worked and get a #3 totally tuna with sauce, then he would get a lemonade and he was happy as a clam. Thanking all of us and chatting away, sometimes you couldn’t understand what he was saying but he had such a big smile on his face that it really didn’t matter because he was really happy. It was because of Archie that when I heard that I could volunteer at the Uptown Men’s Homeless Shelter, I knew that was the place I had to go to. I was warned on several occasions that I shouldn’t go there. My boyfriend thought it was a horrible idea just because he didn’t like the idea of me going there alone. My parents were supportive but didn’t want me going alone. Luckily my first day I met Glenn who is a big black guy who also goes to Johnson & Wales and he offered to walk back with me. Having a big black guy walking with a little white girl was amusing to me. None of the guys on the street tried to “holler at me”; instead they would say what’s up to Glenn like he was super cool cause he was with me. A bunch of the homeless men would ask me if he was my boyfriend and I was like, no only a friend but I have a boyfriend so sorry. This experience started off with me watching pasta boil in water. The first day everyone seemed to crowd around me to make sure I was doing everything right, this was funny to me, how could I possible mess up boiling pasta. I don’t know if it was just that they were trying to make sure I was doing it right or that they were just trying to be around me so that I would talk to them. The second option seems more like the reason. Everyone working in there kept coming up to me because I was the only girl in the kitchen and they loved the fact that I was going to a culinary school. The first day of service I really got to see how the homeless men were, I had to go out into the cafeteria area and bring them more to drink. One man asked me to fill up his cup a little bit, so I did and that started a chain reaction of people asking me to keep filling up their cups. When I walked back into the kitchen for another bottle the guys in there told me not to pour cups for them, tell them that “I am not a waitress and that they can pour themselves”. Well that sounded mean to me but I decided to go with it and I got a bunch of laughs. They all found it hilarious and kept repeating it to each other and laughing hysterically. So it was from that point on that I knew that they could take some jokes. This made the experience at the Uptown Homeless Shelter amazing. Every day that I was there I would eat the lunch that I prepared for the day; this really helped me to see what these homeless men were getting to experience. It also made it easier on me because that was a free meal for me too. The first day there wasn’t much food but it seemed as time went on that more and more places began donating food. Harris Teeter started offering desserts to the shelter and that was really exciting because I got to have cheesecake! Which is one of my weaknesses. I knew that if I was this excited about having desserts that the homeless men must have been really excited also. Not all times were fun and games though, there were times when random men would come into the kitchen and start fights with other guys. I felt very protective of the guys I knew from the kitchen and I didn’t like having these other guys come in here and start fights. Most of them ended quickly thank goodness, just bickers about who knows what. As I continued to come back the jobs I was given got more and more advanced. One day I actually got to fry up all the fish that was getting served to the homeless men. I knew that day that this place trusted me and I really liked that feeling.
Overall I feel as though this was a great opportunity for me to partake in. I really enjoyed everything that I got to do and I never dreaded a single day of this community service. In fact I even volunteered to continue to go as many times as I possibly can. From this experience I have learned a lot about myself. I have the ability to make people happy. I have the ability to make people feel good, making and serving lunch to a bunch of homeless men has been one of the best volunteer opportunities I have ever experienced. They are all so appreciative of what I am doing, I hear thank you about 1000 times a day when I am there. It is really funny sometimes because they try to compete for my attention by trying to be the last person to say thank you to me. I have also learned a lot about my community. I have learned that Charlotte is full of homeless people, people who want to help them, and people who want to just ignore them. Homeless people are still people, they have still lived there life and no one knows what they have been through in their life to make them get to the point that they are at. I learned that head person of Charlotte doesn’t like dealing with the issue of Homelessness and that he would rather ignore it than address the issue. There are multiple reasons why he wouldn’t want to address this issue, one maybe because it would bring in more homeless people who are seeking help. Then that makes me think about all cities, and what they are doing to help homeless people.
I have contributed a lot to my community service site. Every day I brought with me a-good personality. I have made a lot of people happy. I have been thanked a lot by everyone and told that they would love for me to keep coming back. It seemed as though everyone loved having me around.
I haven’t really had any values, opinions, or beliefs that have changed from this experience. I have always had an opened mind about other people. I think one thing may be that not all homeless people have always been homeless. I didn’t realize how many actually graduated from college but then had a rough patch in their life that brought them to being homeless.
I learned that people who may be homeless weren’t always destined to fail; a lot use to have a family, use to have a life, graduated from college, and had a career. Seems really scary how this can happen. I believe that others should have a more open mind like I do, not all homeless people are bad, not all are going to spend what u give them on drugs and other things, and they are very appreciative. I feel like I had a great impact on the homeless shelter. I cracked jokes with a bunch of different men every day. They also learned how much I love hot sauce when they saw me dipping everything into hot sauce, even spicy chips. I made a lot of friends too. Everyone at the homeless shelter really enjoyed having me there; they didn’t want my community service to end. I think the major impact I had on the community is making people who don’t normally get any attention happy. I met another homeless man who chills on a bench at a bus stop near where I live. He always tells me and my roommate how pretty we are and uses different pick-up lines on us every day. One day I cracked a joke on him and he was not expecting that and it made him feel really good, I gave him a good laugh. I say hi to him every day and it’s good because he doesn’t try to follow me around or anything, he is very respectful even though I get hit on by all the homeless men I meet. I have gotten use to it though.