Thursday, August 09, 2007

it's nice to remember a place that changed your life!

When I was in college, we used to have an ASB (Alternative Spring Break) program which sent students to help in needed communities instead of taking your standard drunken spring break. Each year, I went to the Washington DC trip. Most people switched around where they went, but I just fell in love with DC after my first year.

We would meet with senators and such...and work at a bunch of community organizations. The main place we volunteered was a place called So Others Might Eat (SOME). Their mission statement is: Restoring dignity and hope one person at a time. They provide comprehensive services to the homeless. They have a large soup kitchen where they serve breakfast and lunch daily. They also provide medical services, including dental. They have many of the dental schools having their students work there, so they get amazing care. They provide mental health and substance abuse counseling. They also do a lot of crisis work...helping people sign up for services, getting identification that they need, etc. And of course, they provide shelter and transitional housing. We mainly worked in the soup kitchen, but I can remember being truly amazed at what they had to offer.

Working at SOME...and seeing the issue of hunger and homelessness right in front of my face was a life changing experience for me. At that time, I thought I was going to school to be a teacher. By the time I returned from ASB, my focus was already shifting. I knew what work needed to be done and that I could be part of that. I started to see myself in the social worker role for the first time during that first week at SOME. I saw such a need, but I also saw what compassion and respect the workers at SOME had. I have said this before and I will say it again, I truly felt at home while volunteering with them. I have been an annual donator to their organization and will continue to be.

If you are ever taking a trip to DC, give them a call and volunteer for a couple of hours. It's an amazing place that truly shaped who I am...and what I do.

The post was sponsored by Navtej Kohli. He's a philanthropist and a business owner. I happen to think he's awesome. He chose to pay people to write posts about their favorite charities and that is just too cool. I don't know many people who would do that. I loved the opportunity to write about my experiences with Navtej, thanks!!! And because I think he deserves some mad linky love, read about him here and here and here.

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