Thursday, March 24, 2011

Service over Spring Break

Hi everyone!

So I'm back from spring break, and definitely feeling a lot lest rested than after Jamaica last year. However, most of this is because I chose to give my break to service this year and participate in a MOVE extended service trip to NYC.

As a NJ native, 20 minutes out from the city, the sights and sounds were nothing new to me, but was new were the places I visited. Over our week in the city, we worked at 4 different, amazing organizations who are all working to help others in the best way they know how.

Me and Hannah at the St. Patrick's Day Parade

The trip is called the Covenant House trip, because we go there every day while we're on break. It's a homeless shelter for youth, typically age 18-21. As I've discussed before, homelessness happens for a variety of reasons, and we definitely saw this on our trip. I worked on the girls floor (a change from my internship with boys) and it was a really amazing experience.

The group having dinner at the Faith Community House

Another place we worked was Handcrafting Justice, an amazing fair trade organization that works with women in other countries to help them sell their beautiful, handmade crafts to help them get by. We did a lot of office work there, which was a nice change, and we got to shop at the end of the week! Check out the website for some fabulous fair trade stuff for amazing prices.
A lunch break at Handcrafting Justice

After spending the mornings at Handcrafting Justice, we headed over to the Bronx to Mercy Center which, among other things, provides an after care program for kids. We got to do the weekly lessons with the kids, work on activities, and help them with their homework. I got a girl who I did 1 on 1 tutoring with and she was so smart and awesome.

The last organization we worked with was God's Love We Deliver, a big non-profit with a HUGE volunteer base. They make meals and deliver them to the terminally ill and homebound of NYC and parts of NJ. People can be suffering from anything from AIDS or Alzheimer's to Cancer or MS. We got to prepare the food one day (peeled 100+ pounds of onions, carrots, potatoes, and squash, as well as packaged 750+ meals) and deliver it another day. I really felt strongly about the positive impact of this organization and it was amazing to work with them and get hands on experience with the people we were helping. Click here to see some photos of SMC groups working there!

At the risk of this post becoming too long, I just wanted to share what I learned while I was on my service trip. I'm very much aware of homelessness, poverty, and the need for all of the services we were providing, so my trip was not eye opening on that world-perspective level. Instead, I learned a lot about myself and where I'm going next. I'm currently waiting on a placement for AmeriCorps, but have found another option in Covenant House's Faith Community in case I don't get a placement. Being exposed to all of the possible post-grad service options on this trip has really led me to question whether 10 months with AmeriCorps will be enough before I go back to school.

I'm starting to think more and more that I might want to take another year of service, perhaps in an area closer to what I would be doing with my MSW, to really be sure of what direction I'm headed in. I know I can always change my mind, but it's better to change my mind about not going to school than to go for 2 years, pay a lot of money, and then realize I'm not passionate about my work. So, I'm at a very weird crossroads right now, working on my 6 big senior projects/papers/presentations, mid summer job application, waiting on an AmeriCorps placement, and dealing with these new feelings of nervous anticipation as the dreaded G-Day grows nearer. So, stay posted on how I'm doing, and I hope I'm keeping you interested!


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