Nov 9, 2016
As I write this article, I am sitting in front of my desk in my dorm room listening through earbuds to the general election returns come in on CNN. The reason I mention this is to put my eighth day volunteering at the soup kitchen in perspective. It was Election Day, 2016, when I walked over to the kitchen yesterday. The homeless were chattering with the volunteers about the candidates they voted for, and wearing their "I Voted" badges proudly. I did not, however, hear too much of the political talk. I took a break from my normal humdrum duties in the kitchen and drove out to the SCCAP with Jan and Vince to help them lift heavy boxes of food into Jan's car. Then we stocked up the pantry at home, and I resumed my routine responsibility of ladling out food. I met a new volunteer named Bill, and Vince's wife, Karen. It was another very busy day, and afterwards I was especially hungry.
Posted at 01:12 am by Alex Romano
Nov 7, 2016
Big Brothers Big Sisters Week 2
I didn’t get to see Allison this week, there was some sort of parent teacher conference at the school so we couldn’t do the program. I thought I’d tell you a little bit about Allison’s situation, which I learned about after our first meeting. Like with my last post, all personal information surrounding Allison’s family will be changed. Allison, her mother, and her little brother, Dylan, live in a domestic violence shelter right now. They couldn’t tell me whether or not her mom’s partner was her biological father, but, after squandering their money on drugs and alcohol, he abandoned the family. Allison started a new school in the fall and she seems to be making a lot of friends, but, with very little prompting, she’ll tell you she’s moving soon. She isn’t. She told me that her mom was saving money to buy a house, but right now they lived in an apartment so she didn’t know how long she’d be going to the school. The program coordinator told me that there aren’t any plans for her family to move out of the shelter in the foreseeable future and, if they did, it wouldn’t be far away like Allison implied. She says that, in total, she has seven siblings, but only lives with her little brother. She told me the names and the ages, she seemed to really miss them. Allison’s mother made a request for her daughter to be paired with a Big who wasn’t just participating for credit because her daughter really needed someone to be there the whole year, which I will be. Showing up is one of the most important things I can do right now because Allison has very low self-confidence, which is something we’re working on through the program. From what I’ve seen so far, she’s very bright, but she looks to me for approval, which I readily give her. It took a little while for Allison and me to start the program because there is a lot of paper work that needed to be signed and turned in by her mother. The waiting was hard because I was so excited to meet her, but I’m glad I waited because the match was made based on questions we both answered and I think it’s a good fit. My goal for the rest of the year and however long I am able to remain Allison’s Big is to make sure she knows that I’m as excited to spend time with her as she is to spend time with me. Everything else will follow.
By Emily Reese
Posted at 07:18 pm by campca04
Big Brothers Big Sisters Week 1
Allison* made one thing clear: my Candy Land skills were subpar. That’s the kind of blunt, absolute statement one would expect from an 8-year-old girl. Allison is my little sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters, a mentoring organization. I recently met her for the first time and I cannot remember another time anyone was that happy to see me. During the first part of the program, we work on academic things, like homework. Allison, however, had done her homework in advance in preparation for our meeting so we moved on to asking each other the basic questions: what’s your favorite color, what’s your favorite food, etc. She stole my answers. Purple. Pizza. They were things we had in common. When I meet someone who shares a trivial trait like that with me, there is a fleeting sense of novelty in the similarity. Allison didn’t react in the same way, though, she was thrilled at the connection she had made with me. I shouldn’t have been all that surprised. During the walk to the classroom, she told me how I was everything she wanted in a Big Sister. By the time we got to the question about future plans, she was already telling me that she wanted to be a Big Sister and just like me when she grew up. We’d known each other for about 20 minutes. I’ve worked at camps for a while now and I’ve experienced the quick connections children make to their camp counselors so I had expected such behavior to some degree, but not like this. Allison was searching for a deeper connection with me from the very start in a way I have never seen from a child. I know she wasn’t making a conscious effort to do this, she was just starving for a deeper relationship. There was a mistake in scheduling or something along those lines so the book the program gave us for the month of October was a fourth grade book, not third grade like it was supposed to be. Allison was a good reader and spent a lot of her activity time on the book instead of playing games. She went up several times to show Claire, the program coordinator from the college how far she was getting. She needed the assurance that she was doing well and, when we gave it to her, she lit up. At the end of the program, she asked me if I would tell her mother that she had finished a fourth grade book on her first day. I didn’t see her mother, but I wish I had because I would’ve told her what an amazing daughter she had.
*The name of the child in this blog post has been changed to protect the child’s safety, privacy, and dignity.
By Emily Reese
Posted at 07:12 pm by campca04
Today we put together food for Meals on Wheels, which basically is an organization that provides meals for the elderly that typically are incapable of leaving their homes due to disability or something along the same lines. What the Campus Kitchen does, is provides supplemental meals essentially to go along with the meals that Meals for Wheels already provides. This allows those receiving the food to have some extra to save for later and use when needed. We cooked up some pasta with Alfredo sauce, peas, and donut holes. Before we started cooking we also had to unpack boxes full of food donations. Occasionally the Kitchen will receive community donations from a food bank sort of organization. This was very helpful as we were able to restock a lot of the shelves. One of my friends actually signed up for the same day to volunteer today which I didn't even realize until we got the email reminder, so that was really fun! I am getting more and more comfortable and familiar with this organization and am really stating to enjoy going.
Posted at 04:56 pm by Julia Soares
Nov 6, 2016
On Friday I volunteered at the Kitchen again! One of the volunteers I worked with Wednesday was actually there again too! We were cooking for the Adams County Office of Aging right across the street. The campus kitchen provides meals for the elderly folks who live there very often. We were making breakfast for dinner, so pretty easy. In each meal we must incorporate all different types of food groups to make it balanced, so finding a breakfast vegetable was a little difficult. We finally settled on green peas with onions and butter which was actually pretty good and went with the other items of eggs, french toast, and cantaloupe very nicely. Again, it was really chill and we went fast because everything was easy for the most part so I got to have some time to relax and took our time cleaning before bringing it over. Once everything was packed we brought it all over around 5:45 and the guests were all ready at their seats with some other Gettysburg students volunteering with them actually. We brought the food into the kitchen and made up plates to be brought out to the guests. We had a lot of leftovers so the other volunteers and workers there were able to eat too if they wanted. I enjoyed this experience just as much as my last! I like how its not exactly the same thing every time and am excited to see what we do tomorrow.
Posted at 12:26 pm by Julia Soares
Nov 4, 2016
I was finally able to start my service hours on Wednesday because field hockey ended and the time doesn't interfere with practice times anymore! My first day was very informational and enjoyable actually. I do admit I got a little lost trying to find the building because to my defense it is not marked very well and the entrance is in the back. So I did a little bit of wandering and asking around before I finally got there, which lucky I had left early so I wasn't late. I was there with 3 other volunteers and a shift leader (all Gettysburg students). They were all really nice and all the volunteers were about from either Connecticut or Mass so really close which is not that common around here so that was cool! Also the shift leader was rooming with a girl from my town, so I made lots of connections right away. The first thing we did was put various prepackaged food items into bags each for a different family. There was a family of 3, 5,and 6 people so we had to make sure the food we dispersed was proportional in regards to the amount of people being fed. This was eye opening for me because the fact that a meal for 6 people could fit in just a small bag was crazy and I know my family of 5 would have no problem having that portion plus more. After we did that we began cooking for Circles that was right next door, we were making food that would be served at their meeting at 6. There were multiple parts of the meal however the most complicated believe it or not was the barbecue sauce for the pulled pork. The kitchen gets its food mainly from donations so they lack certain ingredients, we had to make barbecue sauce from scratch, even then replacing lots of the intended ingredients with substitutes. Finally once we had completed the meal we carried over next door to the meeting passing a few of the guests on the way. They all showed their appreciation to us and it was very reliving to know all our hard work meant something, one woman said to us "You have no idea how much this means to us". I am going back today and hoping for a similar experience!
Posted at 12:50 pm by Julia Soares
Nov 1, 2016
It was a simple day at the soup kitchen. The menu provided standard fare: hotdogs and baked beans, with a very finite amount of potato chips to supplement the meal as a side. I met a new volunteer named Bobby, who was probably from the local church whose turn it was to pitch in today. The usual patrons were there, along with quite a few new people. I had to learn how to punch voucher cards for everybody present. That was my primary responsibility. Jan identified me for one woman who needed her card punched as Alex the College Boy so that she could find me to give me her card. John thought it was funny. So, depending on how good my fellow volunteers' memories are, I may have a new nickname.
P.S. Jan told me that I am finally "getting the hang of" this volunteer work, and that by the time I stop working for the kitchen, I will have mastered my responsibilities. For now, however, I am still in the United Methodist Church Training Program.
Posted at 04:27 pm by Alex Romano
Oct 26, 2016
Today was the last day I went to James Gettys Elementary school. I had a lot of mixed feelings because I build many relationships with the students. When entering our lesson, we had a lot to do. We had to complete both the recipe and the recipe books. We started off making our recipe this week which was turkey legs. This represented this themes week which was thanksgiving. The recipe didn't go as planned and when cooking some of the ingredients in the microwave, it exploded. During that time frame we had to think of something else. In the end, we decided to cook the ingredients on the stove. Even though this wasn't our best lesson, we learned a lot and had to think under pressure. I am definitely going to miss the students and hope for the best throughout their school year.
Posted at 04:19 pm by Taylor Bialkowski
Oct 25, 2016
Today was a very busy day at the soup kitchen. It was on the schedule that members of the First Baptist were to be pitching in the volunteer work. I saw Mike again, a man who helps out every fourth Tuesday of the month. So it had been a full month since the last time I had seen him. We served ham, scalloped potatoes, and green beans for the diners. We ran out of ham and potatoes not even a half an hour in. The green beans lasted all of the lunch hour, though, and when we did run out of ham, we replaced it with reheated meat loaf. It was a voucher day, so we had plenty of people come to claim a voucher. In total, we hosted 74 guests. After my services were no longer required for the day, I walked directly to the dining hall on campus and went about the rest of the afternoon.
Posted at 08:30 pm by Alex Romano
Oct 19, 2016
Last week I had my interview with B for Big Brothers Big Sisters! It was about an hour long and the reason for it was to match me with a little. We want the best match possible so we both enjoy our year together. Talking with B is amazing, she is the sweetest lady ever. We connect on many levels, she understands why I love to help kids. Talking with her about the type of kid I would work well with was getting me so excited for the mentoring to actually start. I should be matched soon, but until then I am patiently waiting.
Posted at 03:01 pm by livmacdonald