One Day

6:30 AM
My site partner, Emily, and I wake up, get ready for the day, and head downstairs. (Side note: if there is not a Church here to cook breakfast for the guests in the shelter, we skip running and instead wake up at 3:30 AM to cook breakfast and hand out sack lunches.)

7:00 AM
We go for a morning jog with a group called "Crossover," which includes volunteers, staff members, and some of the homeless people (the "guests") of the shelter. Beginning with group introductions and prayer, we walk or run down the beautiful trail behind the shelter. For more information on Crossover and its efforts to bring physical activity and personal optimism to the lives of the homeless, please visit crossoverrunning.org.

8:00 AM
After returning from our Crossover experience, we make breakfast for ourselves in the kitchen of the Transitional Living Center and prepare for our daily tasks.

10:00 AM
Our main task each morning is be sure that the lobby is clean and clear of donations. Hesed House receives countless donations every single day, and part of our job as interns is to sort through and distribute everything we receive.

12:00 PM
Once the lobby is finally clear, we leave the Transitional Living Center side of the building and enter the left side of the building: the overnight shelter. At this time we help serve lunch to the guests, open their lockers with our keys, check their mail for them, and later help wipe down the lunch tables and mop the floor. Mondays and Fridays, the soup kitchen is open here in the dining room to not only homeless individuals, but also to any individual in the area who needs a meal. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, only homeless guests who are registered at Hesed House may eat lunch here. Also at this time, we sometimes tutor a lady here who is aiming to get her G.E.D. by the end of the summer. When I have a break, I will usually play basketball for a while with the guests.

3:00 PM
After we spend some time in the shelter, we will usually come back over to the Transitional Living Center side of the building, to watch kids whose parents are at work, school, job training meetings (across the street at the Hesed Comprehensive Resource Center), or therapy sessions (also across the street). If all of the kids are already being watched, usually our boss will have some sort of project for us to do (i.e. sort more donations or clean out a supply closet).


6:00 PM
Dinner time in the Transitional Living Center is always bursting with excitement. Usually all of the residents who live here - children, teenagers, and adults - are present for mealtime. One family is assigned to cook each night, another to clean, another to watch the children after dinner. When Emily and I walk into the room before dinner, the kids are always very anxious to steal our attention and get us to sit at their table. After dinner, while the parents are cleaning, we usually help watch the kids outside on the playground in front of Hesed House.

7:00 PM
Then comes dinner time in the overnight shelter. First the women and children are served, then the men. Each night, staff members allow guests to enter the shelter by the first letter of their last name, calling a different letter each night. Usually a Church or an office group will come to the shelter at night and cook dinner. If not (like tonight), then that's our job to cook. During dinner, we sit with our friends we've made in the shelter (we know most of their names and stories by now), and join in conversation and laughter. We always have a great time. Nighttime here at Hesed House is always entertaining, always bursting with activity, and sometimes bursting with chaos. Because Hesed does not deny entrance to alcoholics or drug addicts, needless to say there's always something crazy going on at night. Fortunately, the staff members here do an amazing job of keeping everything under control, so much so that the conversation and the laughter ensues and the problem is always handled in an efficient manner.

9:00 PM
After dinner, we help wipe down tables and mop in the dining hall of the overnight shelter. The staff members help the homeless guests grab mats and find places to sleep. Each night, there is anywhere from 150 to 200 people eating and sleeping in the shelter. However, they never seem to run out of space. After our time in the shelter comes to a close for the day, we return to the Transitional Living Center side, say goodnight to the families, give the kids a few final hugs, and head to our own room.


10:00 PM
For the last few hours of the day, Emily and I have some time to discuss the people we met and the stories we heard that day in the shelter. This experience counts as a theology class for our school, so this is also a great time for us to catch up on homework assignments, readings, essays, and personal journals. I usually take this time to catch up on some blog posts as well, or to call my family and friends back home or from ND and catch up with them. Sometimes Emily and I will take her car and go out for ice cream or go see a movie in the area, just to get a little break from Hesed for a bit.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Thank You my sweet Jesus for my days here at Hesed House. In just one day, there is so much to be done, so many lessons to be learned. Although at times I would much rather sleep 24 hours in the day, I know that even just my desire to please You does in fact please You. I know that even when others may not notice my love for You or the work I do for You here in this place full of so many broken people, I know that You notice, Lord. You take notice. You see; You hear; You love. In spite of my faults and failures, You understand my intentions and You find peace in knowing that Your child is only trying to love You more. Grant that I, sweet Jesus, may love You more in all that I do, here at this shelter and everyday for the rest of my life.

Comments

  1. Hello Haley. I didn't realize you were actually spending the nights at TLC. I respect that you are 'walking in my footsteps' in trying to learn what it's like to be homeless. Very few people are willing to do that even amongst the normal volunteers seen at Hesed House. It means that after you've left Hesed House you will take with you a rich experience that will change the way you view life and poverty and the hapless. You will not longer to be like most people and claim ignorance. This is good and I wish more people would do what you are doing, spend time essentially being 'homeless' there or elsewhere. If they did, we'd have a greatly reduced homeless population in this country. Thank you for your time at Hesed House and staying faithful.


    Admiral Nano
    admiralnano.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so proud of you!!! Keep up the great work Haley! - Fr. Alfonse

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Faith is Not a Feeling

Surrender

How to Overcome Depression (Step One)