“How are youz todi?” a little girl holding a stuffed doll said to me.
“Well I’m good, how are you?” I replied.
“Oktay, my mommy made me come here todi, and I just want sum jeeush.” she said.
So I stood up and grabbed a juice box for the young girl and we played while her mother was talking to one of the employees at local organization Friendly House.
This semester I had the opportunity to offer 25 hours of my time to volunteer for a class. This particular incident began at the end of a long Tuesday on the campus of Assumption College. All my classes are done and I’ve spent the last two hours in the library doing homework. On top of that it’s about as warm as an ice-cube. Just when all of my fellow stressed college peers are probably getting ready for a nap or cuddled up with Netflix ready to binge-watch a new TV series, I was on my way to Friendly House, an organization that has been around for 92 years. I had zero idea where I was going or what to expect.
Upon arrival I was completely intimidated and overwhelmed. The office is no bigger than an average dorm room yet they help more than 25,000 residents receive assistance. Over 3,000 people accessed Friendly House’s Social Service Department seeking food, shelter and counseling. During school vacations and through the summer camp program, nearly 4,000 young people were provided a safe environment away from the negative influences of the city streets through creative and recreational programs.
It was that little girl that made this experience worthwhile. No older than five or six, you could tell times were tough for her family, yet she was too young to notice. She sat next to me, drank her juice box and we played for several minutes. She was truly happy, with everything in her life, no worries and stress. She for those couple of minutes was safe, with a roof over her head. And people around her who cared. That’s what Friendly House has meant to me.
Thousands of people come to this organization in dire need, and with no hesitation or fee, Friendly House offers assistance. With minimal employment and limited space, so much good is accomplished every day. My eyes were opened from the second I walked through those doors. As the temperature begins to drop, I take for granted the dorm building I call home and the sheets I’m privileged enough to pull over my body and keep me warm. The people I see daily in Friendly House don’t have that. They don’t have one proper meal per day. For a couple weeks I felt guilty for what I had because it could have so easily been me in their shoes. This is something that I still think about, which is what drives me to continually go and help out.
It was that little girl from day one that sticks out in my mind, to help the community. Because these are people, and they deserve the basic human needs, to be able to go to bed at night warm and secure, not wondering where their next meal is going to come from. Each week I can’t help but feel the efforts I contribute go a long way I have began to really think about others over myself.
As a junior in college the biggest stresses I face on a daily basis consist of which homework assignment to tackle considering I’ve procrastinated for as long as possible. For the thousands of residents of Worcester who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from how can I relate and then help? This is the dilemma I faced throughout the semester. I did my very best to put myself into their shoes but when it comes down to it, I was born into a more privileged life and it wasn’t their choice to live the way they do.
I strongly believe that each and every one of us should step back especially as the holiday season is upon us, and take a minute to reflect. Give thanks for everything you have. Keep in mind the struggles others face and ask yourself if you are truly grateful for everything in your life.