One day Kelli, Jason, Colleen, and I volunteered to help serve lunch at Hesed House after our class period. We went into the PADS dining room around 11 a.m. Walking in, there were a bunch of guests sitting at the tables. They were watching T.V., reading, doing crossword puzzles or word searches, and talking to each other. As lunch did not start until noon, we were each given a task to complete before we started to serve. I was put in charge of making sure that Hesed House guests checked in when they came in. I would let people through the door when they knocked, ask them if they had checked in already, and if not, confirm their ID. After that Colleen and I went to hand out mail. People would show us their identification card, and we would look to see if they received any mail. Before it was time for lunch, we introduced ourselves and told everyone about the Health Advocacy Clinic and the types of cases we handle. Some people came up to us to ask us specific questions about the types of cases we represent or tell us that they had a legal problem and would be coming to see us. It was then time for lunch. We each served food to the people after a Hesed House staff member said a prayer.
Before this experience, I was a little nervous about going. I thought I did not know how to relate to someone who lived at a homeless shelter. I feel really privileged compared to people experiencing homelessness so part of me thought that they would not want to accept help from someone who could not relate to their experiences. However, during the whole experience I kept thinking how all of the individuals sitting in the dining room reminded me of people waiting in a train station or airport. At a train station you see a bunch of different people just sitting or standing and waiting: waiting for their train to arrive and waiting for their next destination. During this experience, I saw similarities. There were a bunch of different people sitting around waiting: waiting for lunch, waiting for their circumstances to change, waiting to find out where they are going and what is happening next. I realized that even though I felt like an outsider, I am not really any different than people experiencing homelessness. Though I may be blessed with what I have, I, too, am sitting here waiting: waiting to figure out what I am going to do with my life, waiting to figure out what comes next.
I was really surprised by the overall experience. I went in feeling apprehensive. However, when I realized that we are all people and that we have things in common, I relaxed, and I really enjoyed talking to and helping the guests of Hesed House. I think that this experience will be very beneficial for my future. Through the clinic, I am going to be working with the guests of Hesed House so the fact that I now feel comfortable around them will be beneficial. This will make me a more effective advocate. I think that this will also help my future career. No matter what I do, I am going to work with people that I may not feel comfortable around or who are different than I am. Now that I have made the realization that I just need to find something in common in order to feel comfortable with someone, I will have a better chance of being able to feel comfortable around any type of person, no matter how much I think we are different.