For the past two years of college I was fortunate enough to volunteer with Hospitality House working in the kitchen, cooking and serving meals to residents. Prior to March of 2020 I was coming in every other Sunday to prepare meals, and it was one of my absolute favorite things to do. I remember those first few months of 2020 starting to push myself to not only come in and serve a meal, but to come in and have a meal with the people I was serving. Which the opportunity presented itself to do far more than just sit down and eat with the clients of Hospitality House in the Spring of 2021.
I knew that it was important to really dive in and make meaningful connections during my time interning. I was incredibly fortunate to get the opportunity to intern at Hospitality House, as a recreation management major, it definitely seemed a little out of place, however I went in with the intention to create opportunities for clients of Hospitality House to do things that could spark their joy. For me, recreation, getting outside, and just finding hobbies I enjoy have had such a positive impact on my life and my mental health, and I recognize my privilege in my access to those things and being able to have the time to do those things. I wanted to find ways to create those opportunities for Hospitality House clients.
I was able to organize a tie dye day for residents where we dyed bags, shirts, socks, and bandannas. The event was supposed to start at 11 am, when we got out there to set up people were ready to go an hour early and most people spent all day outside tie dying with us or just hanging out. One client who spent the entire afternoon tie dying said to me, “if I wasn’t here doing this, I don’t know what trouble I would be getting into,” another resident had never tie dyed before and I have seen them in their shirt several times since the event happened.
Two years ago, I had never sat down with the people I was serving at Hospitality House, I was nervous, it was something that put me outside of my comfort zone. Now I find myself wanting to be at Hospitality House, talking to the clients, getting to know them, hearing about their stories and their days. It has been an invaluable experience to be a part of. I will talk to anyone who will listen about my experiences at Hospitality House and how import it is to share compassion without conditions.