Last week, my EFDN 303 class went to Souls Harbor to experience a different worldview. It was a very eye-opening experience. If you’ve never been there or never heard of it, please look at their website for more details. I would encourage everyone to participate there at some point, even if it’s just on your own. This is a short reflection that I wrote on my thoughts that I had while volunteering there for a meal:
Helping at Soul’s Harbor for a meal proved to be a very eye-opening experiment. I had been there a few years ago so wasn’t new to the routine, but this time I was much more aware of what was going on around me. I found that I even recognized several of the people who came in for supper.
When we first walked into the dining area, I couldn’t help but immediately feel like the people there were judging us by stereotyping us as “rich people”. I wondered what they think about having different volunteers serve them meals everyday. One group of guys asked me what kind of service group I was with. They brightened up when I told them that we were all teachers. They made it seem like they had a preference for who would be serving them.
As I was walking around, I couldn’t help but judge people financially on their appearance. Several of the people had cell phones, and I saw at least two people check their facebook on their blackberries. My first though was that they couldn’t afford food, but they could pay expensive cell phone bills. Furthermore, an ongoing thought that I had was that I really wanted to know the stories of everyone I saw there. I wanted to know their background, what brought them there, and where they go after they leave Soul’s Harbor.
There weren’t as many children as I had seen the previous time I was there, but there were a handful of teenagers and only a couple younger children. The teenagers were very calm and seemed like this wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for them. I wondered if they knew their economic status and if this caused them problems at school or with anyone else outside of Soul’s Harbor. I also wondered where these teenagers attended school. I hope that these schools realize the situation that these children are in at home. I should hope that they are doing something to make these students feel accepted and nurtured in the school environment.
There was a quiet girl who was volunteering for the meal along with us. It was obvious that she was a regular volunteer though since a lot of the people knew her there. I didn’t think much of her until we were finishing cleaning up and I saw her go sit with one of the people there for supper. They were a couple, and I wanted to know if this was a regular habit for them. I think that it’s great for people who should be served food be one helping to serve. It’s a great example for the people there.
Overall, we could all agree that the people there were generally very polite and thankful to be served the way they were. It gave me a good feeling knowing that simple gestures such as asking how they were made them feel touched. There was a real sense of community in the building. Not very many people ate alone, and most seemed to be looking to sit with certain people. I felt like there were cliques of sorts there. Each group of people had a different air to them.
Being at Souls Harbor makes me appreciate my situation in life right now even if I sometimes feel deprived. It makes me realize that there are people worst off than me, so I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself. Being there for even of can make someone reprioritize their life and their values. I would like to go back someday soon and get to know the situations of some of the regulars there. I also feel that it could be a good humbling opportunity for myself to serve others in that way again.