Bitter-Sweet Goodbyes

It was our last day in Washington D.C. and there was a feeling of nervousness and excitement. Nervous, because it was our last project together; and excited, because we still had work to do, and great company to do it with. For the first time all week, all fourteen of us were to volunteer together at the Capital Area Food Bank. This food bank takes in a whopping 42 million pounds of donated food, 17 million of which are fresh fruit and vegetables. With the help of their other partner agencies, the food is delivered to families across the Washington metro area.

Partnered with other colleges, we split up around a large conveyor-belt and assorted donated foods, spices, and condiments.  Some were in charge of taking all the foods and placing them on the belt, while others were tasked to pull off specific foods and box them together. However, some canned and boxed foods were too severely damaged and we were told to throw them away. The experience was definitely an enjoyable one. And while this was not a direct task, it really felt as if we made a large contribution towards the fight against poverty and hunger. We worked from about 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM but still made huge contributions for the organization. I was extremely proud to work with such a dedicated organization and would do it again in a heartbeat.

After taking the metro back to YSOP, it was time for our final reflection. We were asked to give a hypothetical postcard of our favorite experience and share. We also got a chance to receive the letter we wrote to ourselves on our first day that started with “The last time I saw a homeless person I felt___” We asked to write any changes to our previous answer, and I bet that almost everyone did. As we left the church for the final time, their were no feeling of sadness. It was still 3:00 PM!! We still had the whole rest of the day in D.C. Some of us made another appearance at the Mayur Kabob House, located right next to our hostel. Abdul-Mannan is the owner, and gave us very inspiring words about our mission in life. Afterwards we decided to take a bus to Georgetown University where we explored and took pictures.

This was one of the greatest and most gratifying experiences of my life and on behalf of all of the Wake Tech volunteers, we would like to give a special thank you to Mariel Steinbesier, Melody Wiggins, and everyone else at Wake Tech who was involved in making this trip possible. These life lessons and experiences will be remembered by all

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Everyone deserves a chance

I had heard about stereotypes and misconceptions about homeless people, but never really knew about the reality of the life they live. I was extremely happy to hear that I got accepted to attend Washington D.C for alternative spring break. I told all of my teachers and friends about the trip. I have volunteered for about  three days counting today and I can’t explain how grateful I am for this fantastic trip. This experience has given me new perspective about life that I need to get out of my shell and think about other individuals who need my help.

Today, I volunteered for an organization called The Wider Circle which helps lower income families to get free furniture and toys. They basically receive donations and give to the people who can’t afford to buy basic household items like: furniture, toys, lamps, mirrors, e.t.c. The thing I liked about that organization is that they facilitate things and make it smooth for people to get good items.  My group asked their coordinator about the requirements for families to receieve these items, and she told us that they ask very few general questions. This made me relieved and happy that their requirements are easy and help people   while honoring their dignity. I think it is very important to have organizations like that who can help low income home owners to afford the privilege of having good furniture that we all take it for granted. This trip helped me to learn a lot about different problems that people of our communities are facing. I think we should spread awareness and take action in order to improve the lives of homeless and poor people of our community. We should help people because everyone deserves a chance.

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ASB DC 2K15

Today was our third day of service, and I can honestly say that this trip has been an incredible experience so far. To begin with, I want touch on my pre-trip experience. When I originally signed up for this trip and got notified that I was selected to attend, I was extremely excited and could not wait to go to DC. I remember telling some of my friends that I was going to be spending my spring break in Washington DC volunteering at various places to serve homeless people. The responses I got were pretty similar, ranging from, “why would you waste your spring break doing that?”, to, “what a boring way to spend one of your few breaks from school.” My friends just could not fathom what I was going to be doing and they do not understand how passionate I am about resolving the issue of hunger and homelessness. This trip has been so eye-opening and has completely changed my perspective towards homeless people.

With that being said, the service we got to participate in today involved preparing food with the DC Central Kitchen. We spent our morning chopping and dicing vegetables that would be used to create meals for various people around the DC area. This organization receives 3,000 pounds of food every day and is always working two days in advance. It was so amazing to me how efficient they were in everything they did from assigning tasks to volunteers, to instructing the volunteers, to preparing the food, and to the entire clean-up process. I also really liked how welcoming the entire staff was and how they really made us feel like a part of the organization. Although we didn’t get to volunteer quite as long as I would have liked to, it was still a very enjoyable experience to work with other volunteers that are passionate about ending hunger and homelessness.

I feel so honored to have been a part of this group of like-minded peers and I can wholeheartedly say that this experience will be engrained in my memory for years to come.

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A Unique Experience

Today was very different from what I was expecting it to be! We went to this place called the URCC (Unique Residential Care Center) and were working with elderly people. At first I was kind of skeptical because I am usually a shy person and I didn’t know how these people would react to my personality or my group.

When we arrived, we were put to work right away. All of us were separated to do various odd, and important jobs around the building. Jasmeen and Jessica both did different kinds of filing throughout the day that was tedious, but very much needed. Sarah-Beth made phone calls to the families of the people who were at the hospital inviting them to come visit the residents and go to various events that they had at the healthcare facility.

German was put in Physical Therapy helping set up machines and taking the patients where they needed to go. He also made sure that when the Residents were put on a certain machine, he assisted with their comfort and safety.  Melody, our leader was sent out doing odd jobs like putting flyers up and various cleaning jobs.

Chad and I were put with recreation setting up the dining room for Saint Patrick’s day. We put decorations all over the room and made posters that had “Lucky!” and “Happy Saint Patty’s Day!” written all over them. The residents were in the room while they decorated and we got to talk to some of them a little bit and interact with them. After we finished the room, we had a quick lunch break and then went to the movie area to paint the ladies fingernails. (Yes, even Chad painted the ladies nails) That was my favorite part of the day because I was really able to talk to some of the women about their lives and what kind of things they liked to do, their schedule, etc.

Going to the URCC was impactful to me because I never realized just how much elderly people needed to be loved on and cared for. Just talking to the residents put a smile on their face as well as mine. It was a great experience to impact someone just by asking them about their life and serving through whatever job was needed to be done! All-in-all a great experience!

 

#OnThePathToProgress

This morning during our first meeting with YSOP we were told to write a letter to ourselves with the first sentence stating: The last time I saw a homeless person I felt_______. Truth be told, I said, I felt unsure how to respond to the situation. Indeed, I did not know how to approach a homeless person or respond to them upon being approached. I have always treated them politely, but I just wasn’t sure what more I could do. However, today during our first trip to the Brethern Nutrition Program, I was finally able to interact with homeless people and completely overlook the fact that they were homeless to begin with. Before I get into the remarkable experience I had, I just want to briefly describe the kitchen we serviced in.

The kitchen we served in today was much like your average and everyday type of kitchen. It was actually very different than what I was expecting. I was expecting a soup kitchen type setting or a kitchen in which we would be preparing meals out of canned goods (not to make these kitchens lesser in value), but I was very surprised to find out we would actually be making all meals from scratch. Everything from the main dish to the peanut butter cookies were made from scratch using all natural ingredients. I was even surprised to find that vegetarian options were made available to those who preferred them. I personally, started off by chopping kale (that would later be sautéed with ham), than I made homemade applesauce. Despite the fact we were cooking, cleaning, and serving, we all managed to have lots of fun. I really enjoyed the time we spent preparing all the meals and engaging directly and indirectly with the clients. Of all events that took place, the most rewarding was finally having a normal conversation with the clients.

The immense satisfaction that I received from being able to carry a personal and very normal conversation with John, Donna, and Inez was absolutely rewarding to me. I was stressing way too much over how to approach people, than actually just doing it. I came to the realization that often times people have this same problem. We just don’t know how to react or engage with homeless people and the reality is they are people just like us. It was truly amazing to realize I had more things in common with these three amazing souls a lot more than I could have ever imagined. They have gone through hardships just like I have and we were able to connect somehow through the scope of comprehension and understanding our similar circumstances.

Towards the end of the day we went back to the YSOP unit for a period of reflection. We had a guest speaker talk to us about his work and explained to us the importance of getting involved with others. Everything he said had value to me and was very inspiring, but there was one piece of advice that really struck me. He said that people tend to go after careers for the money and don’t do it because they really want to do it or love it. Furthermore, he said that each individual needed to find his or her niche. As soon as he said that, I immediately felt that I could relate to his words of advice. I was totally captivated with the love in which he felt towards the people he worked with and his overall job. I just felt that someday I would also like to feel that way. In the end, I believe having this guest speaker was like the cherry on top to what was a wonderful experience. For these reasons, I believe I am on the path to success. Little by little, but I know I am making progress. I feel I am on the right path in finding my niche and I know for sure I want to continue helping others.

Dinner is best with good company

IMG_3883-1I can assume that every individual that was selected to participate in the Alternative Spring Break had different expectations of the program, and although I had my own assumption of what I would get out of it, I never would have imagined that it would be SO fruitful.

One of my favorite nights ,and many others’ favorite as well, was the night in which we actually cooked dinner and sat down to eat with the guests we were assisting. First, we were assigned groups to be in charge of certain foods (I helped with lasagna), and afterwards we sat down and talked with the guests and served them their meal. Actually being able to sit down and converse with people in need as actual people over lasagna as opposed to throwing a pity party or ignoring their situation was among the most amazing of things that has occurred in my lifetime.

The men I had the pleasure of speaking with held the most intelligent conversation I have had in my whole 21 years of life and truly impacted me in a way that I KNOW I will carry with me forever. He spoke of religion, and how it all boils down to love and peace. He spoke of politics and what was particularly wrong with our system. He spoke of so many elements of life that led him up to where he is today and it really made me realize just how united we are as a species and how much more awareness we need to spread on an individual level, because it is not just his problem, it could happen to any of us at any given time.

I think what truly stuck with me was my misconception of who was assisting who. I went into it thinking that I was assisting him, but when I left I realized, he was assisting me. 

From One World to Another

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It’s amazing the things you see when you visit a new location. No matter where you go even if it’s in the same country (which in our case was Washington, D.C) you still have to immerse yourself into the individualized culture of that location. Our hostel was located in Metro Center, the epicenter of Washington. The majority of the places we visited were outside of this area of shopping, restaurants, and major tourist attractions. IMG_0929[1]

They were about an hour commute that included walking, metros, and buses. I remember being told to pay close attention to the changes when moving from one area to another. It happens slowly, the changes that occur when moving from one sector to another. You get on the metro and everyone is wearing suits and business attire. It is obvious that they are in a rush, ready to start their workday. The station is very clean. Huge signs display “forget the fries” and informs guest that there is no eating or drinking on the metro. Then every stop more and more people get off and unlike when your in Metro Center no one else comes on to take their place.

Soon we are the only ones on the metro besides a few DC residents here and there. As the metro moves out of the tunnels we see a completely different sight around us. IMG_0945[1]In this area graffiti covers the walls, the waiting areas for the metro aren’t kept up as well, and most of the residents live in food deserts or an area which lacks access to grocery stores, farmers markets and healthy food providers. It’s crazy to think that just outside of DC there are so many individuals who live in poverty. It was a blessing to work with all of these organizations as they helped to improve the lives of individuals in there community. Of course it was sad knowing that nothing we did was going to instantly get these individuals out of their situation. However, it was great knowing that everything we did no matter how small made a difference.      IMG_0947[1] IMG_0949[1] IMG_0983[1] IMG_0991[1]

ASB spring break DC 2015 (First day of service)

This was one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had.  To work in the community selflessly without getting anything in return is very rewarding and satisfying. I am more than happy that I made the decision to spend my spring break doing community service, meeting new people and developing my social skills.

First day of ASB 2015 at DC was so much fun and memorable. We were divided into two groups, our group got to serve at local Community Greening Center. During the day our group worked with parks and people and marvin Gaye Community Greening Center. As D.C expands the citizens are realizing that going green is the way to go. Our group started off by aerating tree’s which provides them with the proper amount of moisture and oxygen in order to grow into adult tree’s. By adding tree’s and parks in D.C it improves the air quality of D.C. and overall health. After aerating the tree’s our group went out into the neighborhood to pickup any trash around the neighborhood. We had a lunch break with Rutgers group and we made new friends during lunch. Our group then went into parks and removed anything dangerous such as glass or trash so that children could safely play in the parks again. The group then went around the park picking up broken limbs and clearing the park.

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Students For Service

The YSOP program is open to other schools for the week along with Wake Tech. When Rutgers University sent out invitations for a meet and greet with all schools participating for the week, we couldn’t refuse.

The night kicked off with pizza and drinks, but it didn’t end there. After all the pizza was consumed the  activities began. Being in a room full of people from five different colleges is a bit intimidating, but after a game of Simon Says we were all on board. The laughs just kept on coming and the games kept rolling. We were paired with students from different school and even made out own secret hand shakes! It was a fun night, and we all essentially learned that it was okay to be silly and meet new people. Being silly and being yourself is what we all needed to engage in our services for the rest of the week. We may all come from different backgrounds, and live in different circumstances, but at the end of the day we’re all just people.Photo 1

Meet our 2015 ASB Team!

GermanGerman Avila is a twenty year old International Student, originally from Colombia, South America. He is expected to graduate from Wake Tech by the Fall semester of 2016. He has been exposed to the medical field and community service throughout his life due to his family’s involvement. For this reason, German has decided to pursue a nursing degree. Martin Luther King is one of the most influential human rights activists there has been , one site German must see is the famous Lincoln Memorial where Dr. King Gave his “I have a Dream Speech”.

JessJessica Bundy is a journalism/communications major and will be graduating from Wake Tech this year. She is excited about coming on the trip because she wants the opportunity to learn something new and to focus on the reality of hunger and homelessness. Jessica attending Spring Break in NYC last year and really enjoyed meeting people and learning a different side of poverty.

 

JeremyJeremy Bryan is in the transfer program at Wake Technical Community college studying to get an associates of science degree. After graduating from Wake Tech in May 2017, he wants to get a BA in Biology and proceed from there to work on a Masters in Nutrition. On the trip he expects to help a lot of people that need help by doing his part in making their lives easier even if it’s not directly. He’d like to go to the Smithsonian, as well as the Holocaust museum, and if Barack is home maybe he can talk the secret service into letting him grab one of DC’s famous “Half Smokes” with us!

JasmeenJasmeen Kaur is an Associates of Science major who is planning on graduating in December 2015. She is most looking forward to the trip to D.C. in order to make friends, explore DC while helping homeless and hungry people. One must thing she would like to do beside helping people is visiting some of places like White house, Lincoln memorial or Washington monument.

 

ChadChad Kibbe is a Student Ambassador at Wake Tech Community College. He is getting his Associate of Arts degree and transferring to NC State University to get his bachelor’s degree in the College of Natural Resources. He will be graduating in 2018. Chad hopes to gain a greater appreciation for what he has and gain the ability to look at life from a different perspective upon serving those that are in greater need of help and service. Along with helping and serving others that are less fortunate, Chad is especially looking forward to visiting the Smithsonian Museum and the Holocaust Museum

AsiaAsia King is working towards her Associate of Arts degree and will be graduating from Wake Tech in December of 2015. Asia volunteers at the Wilmington Street Men’s Shelter and is the Secretary for Phi Beta Lambda here at Wake Tech. She is looking forward to meeting amazing individuals and hearing all of their stories. Her biggest goal while on the trip is to gain a better understanding of the challenges homeless individuals face so that she is better able to assist the homeless community wherever she goes. Asia refuses to leave D.C until she visits Good Stuff Eatery, a restaurant in Capitol Hill.

SarahSarah Elizabeth Grey Kirkland is a Dental Hygiene major who plans on graduating in June 2016. She is hoping to better understand not just how to temporally help someone who experiences hunger and homelessness but instead to find long term solutions. She would like to find a way to place homeless men and woman into jobs that will sustain their living suspense and how to find them places to shower, wash their clothes and prep them for a career until they can find a permanent residence of their own. She absolutely wishes to get see the cathedral or go dancing in D.C.

 

JoscelynJoselyn Ramirez-Mendoza is a Baking and Pastry Arts major who plans on graduating in May 2017. She is looking forward to the knowledge and experience that she will gain with this trip. She does not consider this trip a vacation but considers this as the opportunity to make a small difference in our country. She is truly looking forward to meeting new people and more importantly, getting to know on a personal level the real issues of homelessness. She is such a museum goer but if she had to narrow it down she would choose the Smithsonian museum of American History and the Holocaust museum.

 

BiancaBianca Olivares is an optimist who is very enthusiastic about her studies. She will be graduating from Wake Tech this upcoming May 2015 and will be transferring to Meredith College. Bianca plans to major in Psychology and continue on to graduate school to eventually become a Clinical Child Psychologist.  Bianca is mostly looking forward to experiencing a new perspective of life and learning another way in which to help other people and is planning to share this with others in hopes of spreading awareness and involvement. One thing she must do in D.C. is mainly just explore the area and make memories with great people.

AtifAtif Rafique wants to get his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from UNC Chapel Hill. He will be graduating from Wake Tech in the spring of 2015. The main goal of this trip is to learn about the problems homeless people are facing in our communities. He is looking forward to a great learning experience.

 

 

BaleighBaleigh Scheibner is in the Associate in Arts program and is hoping to graduate in May 2016 and transfer to NC State for Mass Communications.  Baleigh is looking forward to serving others by  giving up her spring break to help the homeless and those in need in Washington D.C. She hopes to gain a better understanding of our country and the need to help those around instead of just passing life by. Her must do thing in Washington would definitely be to go see the memorials especially the Holocaust Museum Memorial!

TravisTravis Suite is a second semester freshman and plans on graduating in 2018. He is planning is current plan is to major in Political Science from Appalachian State University. Travis most looks forward to meeting and talking with people and hearing their stories. He hopes to get a chance to meet the President of the United States, although unlikely. If that does not work out, Travis will be just as excited to get to explore D.C. and visit famous memorials.