Thursday, December 29, 2005

Away from the situation

I have spent the last few days away from work and from my community for Christmas, and I miss both. I always thought that it was hard to return home from College, this is way more difficult. This is the longest that I have been away from my community, and it is hard. In just the four months that we have lived together, we have bonded very closely, and now, I cannot imagine my life without them. I never dreamed that I would be so close to seven people.
I also miss work quite a bit. I have grown to love my coworkers and the clients that we work with. I know that they need me too, so I will be anxious to get back to work tomorrow.
Seperating myself from the situation, by about 1000 miles has given me some perspective. I really appreciate what I am doing, and I am so glad that I am not working at an ordinary job!

Friday, December 02, 2005

The holidays where you find them...

Last night we decided to make our own Christmas by decorating our house. The extent of our holiday decorations is very slim. We have the pieces of approximately 2 1/2 fake trees in the basement, some battered gold garland and exactly six glass Christmas balls. We assembled the fake tree, and it is bedraggled and leans precariously to the left. It is hung with some lights we borrowed from a roommate, the glass ornaments (down one since I dropped it on the floor) and some construction paper snowflakes. We cannot hang popcorn since we do not want to increase our chances of having mice.
However, we played Christmas CD's and drank hot chocolate and had a great time. It is really not about the stuff. It is about the people. The holidays are really what you make of them.

Our motivation

The other day, my roommates and I were discussing our motivations for serving this year as volunteers. The reasons are as varied as we are. However, I have not really examined why I am doing what I am doing. I just do it.
I decided to participate in this program last April. I wanted to do something for a year that would be beneficial to the common good, would offer career development, would offer me a chance to do some self- actualization and learning and would be better than some entry level job.
What I was not expecting is how massive the problems of poverty and homelessness are. My year of service is merely a drop in a great bucket. I was not expecting to see systems of poverty and injustice perpetuated by the government, families and the homeless themselves. I was not expecting to meet people who were not willing to help themselves or better their situations. I was not prepared for my response to these people, I was surprised by my own lack of empathy and feelings of sympathy for the people I work with. I try to be kind and giving, but I have always been a realist and I have become a cynic.
What motivates me to come to work every day is the fact that I feel that I am called to do this. I feel like I am doing at least something in line with God's will. I derive satisfaction from my j0b, knowing that I am working towards a better society. Not like if I was working at some bank somewhere or some office building, shuffling papers. Also, I am preparing for a career in this field, and every day is professional development.

Greed knows no season

One of the rather disheartening things happening right now at work is the greed surrounding the holidays. Our clients, and clients throughout the metro area are positively going nuts about getting as much as possible for the holidays. Every single day I get at least 15 phone calls from women wanting holiday assistance. Our organization decided several years ago that we were stopping "hand-outs" and trying to give "hand-ups". However, our clients do not see the rationale. They want presents. As I have mentioned before, I have noticed that homeless and impoverished people will try to amass as much "stuff" as possible, and they do not care what it is, as long as they have some possessions. Well, that drive for possessions is only heightened by the commercialism and spirit of excess surrounding Christmas and the other holidays. I am seeing a very troubling side of our clients, they are greedy and demanding at this time of year. It is enough to make me want absolutely nothing for Christmas.