Nov 17, 2017
Last night I stayed overnight at the First Baptist church with Gettysburg CARES. I was extremely nervous about the while experience because I didn't want to do or say the wrong thing, but once I arrived at the CARES office I was greeted by some of the kindest people I have ever met. I sat down and within ten seconds a couple had come up to me and we started to chit chat about the weather, Buffalo(where I was born), ice-cream, and even the random topic of leaving the seat up. This couple was hilarious and they had obviously been guests at Gettysburg CARES for a long time because they took the initiative to show me around as well as help any new people who had questions.
I heard conversations about their lives and how they ended up in the situation they are in now, most completely out of their control. Whether it be a personal illness or a family emergency, some the people were forced into this spot and not given many options of getting out. When we were waiting for the van to take us to the church I had the opportunity to talk with another woman who discussed her life and music career with me, however she was also the most willing to talk with me about her faith(although I did not ask). She also was one of the most passionate people to share at the optional devotion service that was given once we arrived at the church. She spoke about some of the things she struggled with early in life and how her eyes were opened to God and that has given her hope through all the current and future struggles in her life. Hearing her story made me very emotional not only because of her passion but about her resiliency. There was a real point of reflection in my time at Gettysburg CARES that involved the realization that the guests at CARES manage to be kind, caring, and open even with all their other struggles.
This truly opened my eyes and made me think about all the times I had maybe neglected or been rude to someone, when there was a better way. However, I did get a happy and humorous interactions with one of the guests who I frequently pass and say "hi" to on my runs through the village. We had just casually greeted one another before but when I arrived at CARES he said "hey you're the runner girl." This made me happy to know that our interactions meant something as well as provided a nice ice breaker for the rest of the night. Overall I feel lucky to have gone to CARES and would gladly do it again.
Posted at 03:56 pm by Katie Mercer
Gettysburg Community Soup Kitchen Week 9 -Hannah Wevodau
Today, while breaking for lunch with some of the regular visitors with whom I have come to be on a first name basis, we discussed the complex issues of colonialism and the problematic nature of the U.S. as a colonial power. Since serving at the kitchen, I now feel so ashamed that I previously held assumptions that those experiencing poverty were undereducated and lacked the ability to carry on complex conversation. This detrimental assumption is not something I am proud of, but it is a reality in our society. Today, as has taken place before, a few first time volunteers were wary of taking their lunch break in the dining area with the visitors. This cautious behavior reminded me of a confession Kozol made in Rachel and Her Children. Kozol reveals that one of the reasons he finds himself so eager to bathe after a day at the homeless shelter is “the recognition of so much pathology, so much infection and contagious illness in the homeless population” (211). Kozol goes on to explain that since many associated this threat of illness with those experiencing poverty, these individuals “become untouchables” and that “even our most natural inclinations may be thwarted by a practical consideration like the fear of illness” (212). I wonder if some of these individuals’ reluctance to consume food with the guests is motivated by this fear. Perhaps this motivation is subconscious and they are not entirely sure why they would prefer not to eat in the same area as guests. Regardless of whether this avoidance is a conscious choice, I suspect it is partially due to the ingrained assumption that any space shared with those in poverty is not a clean space.
I was very excited on the way back from the soup kitchen today since I ran into one of the individuals whom I met while staying over at C.A.R.E.S.. I have come to know him well and was so excited to hear that he secured employment that is going to start on Monday. I hope it goes well. He’s worried his mom will get lonely without him around all the time, especially since they are not very close with many of the other overnight guests at C.A.R.E.S.. Although, thankfully, the negative emotions following the altercation last week have since died down. I would like to be more of a support system for these individuals I have come to know and start a C.A.R.E.S. schedule next semester. As Kozol has pointed out, when you are experiencing poverty it often feels as if “there are no supports” (199).
Posted at 02:50 pm by Hannah Wevodau
Nov 16, 2017
On Wednesday I worked at the Soup Kitchen like every other Wednesday expecting I would serve food and clean from 11-1pm. As I turned on to the street the kitchen was one, I saw a mother with three kids and a stroller. I was hoping they were going to the soup kitchen too because I love little kids. When arrived at the soup kitchen my friend Tessa wasn't there because she was sick. But the lady with the stroller and four kids were there, just like I had hoped. I was serving all the guests like usual when Jan asked me to babysit the children while their mom, Megan, picked up clothes at the clothes drive. I left the soup kitchen and followed Corey to the next church where I sat in an atrium with the kids and read to them. Corey didn't seem to like kids very much and since he couldn't walk well he had a tough time when the kids were running around under his feet. The kids were very misbehaved and Megan did not seem to discipline them. The kids were smart but they didn't know how to read and struggled with their colors. The youngest one was very distrusting of me and her siblings explained that she did not trust anyone she did not know. Every kid had a different dad and from what I can tell none of the dads were in the picture anymore. I wanted so badly to help these kids, I mean they were not in school on a Wednesday which means they missed a whole day of learning in the middle of the week. I wish I could do more to help them, even if it was just watching them for a few hours or reading to them. I hope they are there after Thanksgiving break so I can see the kids again and hopefully they remember me.
Posted at 08:06 pm by Maddi Devey
Support Circles #7-Pugliese
November 8th, 2017. This week was as crowded as I think I've ever seen circles. It was leader/ally as well as the big Thanksgiving feast. Campus Kitchen went over and beyond by providing all the food. They managed to provide the turkey, all the fixings, desserts, and an amazing night for all. It was nice to have Thanksgiving someplace that wasn't Servo or home because it made me realize what really mattered. There were a few extra volunteers with Campus Kitchen and then quite a lot of extra people and kids too! The meal was nice because we took the extra time to sit and enjoy not only the meal but just the presence of everyone being there and being healthy and grateful. We had at least 5 older kids that stayed in the hallway and did homework while we had around 8-10 younger kids that mostly just played building blocks. Kyra joined me this week because I thought it would be a good week to have an extra volunteer and I wanted her to see what I do every week. We had quite the debacle with the marbles and the distribution of the marbles. We didn't use a single board game last week because we played with the legos and marbles the whole thing. The volunteers started a crossword puzzle last week that we finished this week with the help of Kyra. All in all this was pretty similar to my first reaction at Circles because it was around Thanksgiving. Although it wasn't my family it made me grateful that I'll be with them for Thanksgiving in a week!
Posted at 02:42 pm by Scarlett Pugliese
Tonight at Support Circles was a bit different than usual. We went the campus of the Community College of Gettysburg for a financial meeting for the Circles members. We were given a classroom for the kids where we played dominoes, candyland, Connect Four, and drew. The kids seemed to have a good time, but some of them started to misbehave and act up. There were more kids than usual and some of the boys became rambunctious and started to yell and fight over games. I was confused as to how to really act in this situation. This was a moment of leadership that I was not really prepared for. I know how to direct people and instruct them on what to do, but this night was one of the constant need for discipline. It seemed like every couple of minutes involved having to tell someone to stop yelling, standing on a chair, lying on a table, etc. And yet, doing it as much as I had to got me used to that chore. I was able to not only realize how necessary this is to childcare, but how nobody wants to do it and yet they do to keep order among the children. Morgan came over several times and helped me talk to the kids. Her handling of situations is far better than mine, and it was encouraging to see the patience and kindness that she employed in dealing with the children that were obviously frustrating her and the other helpers.
Posted at 10:39 am by Ryan Mahokey
Nov 15, 2017
Wednesday November 15, 2017
Today we talked about other people’s experiences with Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S.. There are two more people that have to go still but the greater majority of the class has gone already. Everyone seems to have a good experiencing with the organization and has great experiences to share. I know for me, this was an eye-opening interaction because if I had met the people staying with C.A.R.E.S. on the street, I would have never known they were homeless. It just attests to the fact that homeless people are “normal people just going through something” as a lady experiencing homelessness said during D.C. Outfitters. Everyone seems to agree that this was an awesome, first-hand experience that the greater majority of people do not get to understand. We are genuinely lucky.
Posted at 10:42 am by gabiscolpino
Nov 14, 2017
This Monday night, November 13, I had the privilege of staying with Gettysburg CARES. I left campus at 7:30 and made it to the CARES office on York Street by 7:45. Upon entering, I met Laura, program coordinator, and Kathy. Kathy gave me a tour of the house and I was able to see the computer room upstairs with computers donated from the Adams County Library, the bathroom, playroom, and laundry room. There was one new guest that night and Kathy spent time checking him in and making sure he had the necessary items to have a comfortable stay at the church. While we were waiting for the vans from the First Baptist Church, I talked to a female guest whom had only been there one night before and who planned on leaving Gettysburg soon. She had been living in Atlanta, but returned to Gettysburg, where she had lived five years prior. The vans arrived at 8:30 or so and we drove to the First Baptist Church. In the van, I sat next to the same woman and she told me about her homeschooling and asked me about my classes at Gettysburg. We arrived at the church about 10 or 15 minutes later and I was greeted by the hosts, Wanda and her husband, Dick. They introduced me to the other volunteer for the night, Bari, and showed me where to put my things. I was surprised to learn that I’d be sleeping in the nursery instead of in the same room as the female guests. We locked everything up and Kathy headed out. After everyone was set up, about 5 or 6 of us attended the very nice devotional that Wanda coordinated. Then, Wanda and her husband left and it quieted down very quickly. There were only 11 guests there, and one man ended up leaving very early in the morning to catch a bus. In the morning, I took the van to the Soup Kitchen with most of the guests, and said goodbye before starting my walk home. However, one of the men driving the vans insisted that he drive me back to campus instead of walking, so I ended up getting a ride back! Overall, my experience was mellow, and not worth being as nervous as I was beforehand.
Posted at 10:49 am by freyan01
Nov 13, 2017
I stayed at Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. this past Friday night. I arrived at the C.A.R.E.S. resource center at about 7:45 and checked in and waited for the bus to arrive to bring us to the church. On the bus, I sat in the back behind a man (whose name I don’t remember) who lost his phone the day before, so I helped him look for it on the bus. He could not find it. When we arrived, all the guests checked in, and I did too, and then the other volunteer, Bari, explained to me what I am supposed to do for the night.
The night was pretty uneventful, most guests just set up their beds and went to sleep right away. I played with Liberty for a while. Then, I sat at the table during devotions and listened. There were only four guests there, the two couples. I talked with the younger couple for a while after devotions were over just about homelessness in different places that they have experienced and they asked about what we did in D.C. After that, everyone went to sleep and Bari turned the lights off.
The morning was a little more eventful. Everyone got up on time and was getting ready to get on the bus. But, then Will walked down the hall to the women’s bathroom and Kim (I think that’s her name) saw him as she was about to go down there and said, “Will just went down into the women’s bathroom” to the other volunteer. She did not go into the bathroom then since he was down there. When he came back down Bari told him not to go into the women’s bathroom because then the women can’t use it. He got very defensive and said that he only went to the door to ask his mom a question, he didn’t go in. He told her she can’t just accuse people of doing things they didn’t actually do. He repeated this in a very loud tone for a while longer, even though Bari had apologized for the misunderstanding right away. Finally, he went to his mom and asked for a cigarette so he could “get out of here”. His mother was crying after. The other guests talked amongst themselves about how Bari didn’t deserve that and how volunteers should not be treated like that. Will continued to complain to his mother about it the whole bus ride back.
Posted at 11:24 pm by Alexa Kerprich
Nov 12, 2017
I have still yet to be placed into my service with Big Brothers Big Sisters, but Elizabeth did email me two weeks ago saying she hopes to have people placed before thanksgiving break. The matching process does take a long time because they want to find a match that is best for both the child and the big.
While I am waiting to get placed in BBBS I have emailed the 21st Century program, about volunteering there and although they have yet to get back to me I would love to be involved in that. The 21st century program is similar to BBBS in that it is a mentoring program, but one for high school age kids. You help them with homework and any other academic or organizational problems they may be struggling with.
I also started our final research project. My selected topic is reproductive healthcare for women experiencing homelessness. Along with that I'm looking into disease, pregnancy, and menstrual cycle data. I am very passionate about this topic because not only am I passionate about women's rights in general but as a woman interested in medicine I am shocked at the things women are deprived the basic human right to. After meeting with Clint the research librarian he gave me some great websites to get information from, I thought it might be difficult to write a 15 page paper on this topic at first but I found some really great material. I'm looking forward to reading it all this week and construction my thesis and formatting my essay.
Posted at 05:09 pm by Katie Mercer
Nov 10, 2017
Today I went back to the soup kitchen. When we got there, some of the guys who sleep at CARES recognized us and said hello which was really cool. We went inside and starting preparing the meal. Today felt different than a normal day. Since it was very cold out today, the volunteers seemed extra generous. We let everyone in early and gave them lots of food to leave with. We served ravioli and meatballs with bread and dessert. Everyone was very gracious to have a hot meal on a day like today. Towards the end of the serving period, a man, woman, and their six month old son came in. At first, I felt sad for the child because I assumed that he would grow up with parents who were irresponsible. That thought quickly changed once I saw the two interacting with the kid. They seemed tremendously loving towards him. We brought them some baby food but they told us they didn't want him to eat it because it had expired. There is this sort of expectation that young parents, as well as homeless or impoverished parents, are automatically bad. These parents were extremely careful about what they fed their son. I was upset that I had had those thoughts when they came in because they definitely proved me wrong. We talk in class about how even the most informed people can still have stigmas engrained in their head. I found myself doing that and I learned from the whole experience.
Posted at 03:01 pm by bresmo01