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It's the Small Things, After All

There’s a saying within the English language that goes a little something like this: “it’s the small things in life.” Or maybe this: “good things come in small packages.” There are multiple variations on this one saying, and yet they are all true.

Working as an intern at Hospitality House has made me realize just how valuable small interactions with people can be. I wanted to highlight some of the lasting impressions that some of these small moments made on me as I interned at Hospitality House.

Sometime in the early days of January 2019, I anxiously sat in the lobby of the Hospitality House, awaiting my first meeting with Todd Carter, the Director of Development. The staff had said that I should just make myself comfortable and that Todd would be there any minute. I even got a chance to say hello to one of my friends whom at the time was working as a Shelter Associate.

I was admittedly nervous about our first meeting. I did not have much prior experience in the non-profit world (other than the volunteerism work I’d done before) and one-on-one meetings of any kind always made me a little jittery. I had also recently bleached and dyed my hair a bright blue and did not know how this would hold over in terms of professionalism. And although I had the reassurance of my friends and even some of the staff at Hospitality House, I had one encounter that really made all my nerves disappear.

Two ladies had approached me as I was waiting for this meeting and had commented about my hair saying that they loved the color and had asked about some tips on the brand of dye and color choice. I sat and spoke to these ladies about my hair for a few minutes and their smiles and casual conversation made me forget all about my nerves. Once these ladies left, I found myself standing up to greet Todd who was walking through the front door, and believe that our interview went quite well thanks to those ladies who helped immensely in distracting me from my nerves (Todd also commented about loving my hair color).

Many times while working at the shelter, I was able to have such casual and pleasant conversations with so many of the residents. These small interactions really made my day and created an atmosphere of vibrance that helped me to understand the decisions behind wanting to work in this field.

Also while interning at Hospitality House, the interns got to participate in running Welcome Home Thriftique. This was a challenging yet rewarding experience and it also provided many wonderful moments that I will treasure.

On a bright, sunny, and warm day in early April, I looked out of Welcome Home Thriftique to witness a young woman walking her dog. She seemed to be eyeing the store in an interested way and so I was eagerly waiting for her to step into the store, but she walked by and I lost sight of her.

I went back to sorting through some donations and a few minutes had passed when the same woman walked right into our store with a wide smile on her face. I greeted her and she proceeded to walk through to look at the stuff and then approached me. She asked if maybe there was a way she could put some stuff on hold as she hadn’t brought her wallet because she was just out walking her dog. I replied with “of course” and she handed me a couple of things that she wanted and said she would come back the next day.

As I set aside her things and made a note, she asked about the store. I explained to her that Welcome Home Thriftique is a project of Hospitality House and that all proceeds from sales go directly back into Hospitality House. At those words, her face lit up and we talked on about Hospitality House and Thriftique and what she could do to help and how she could contribute. She left the store looking very excited and promised that she would be back to purchase her on-hold items as well as to donate some of her stuff. I saw this particular customer two more times after this interaction and she always asked how everything was going and was very excited to be there.

This has happened many times while working at Thriftique. Some of the people that come in are aware of the mission of Welcome Home Thriftique, but many are just happen to see it and pull in to see what it is all about. After giving these folks information about what Thriftique does, most of the time people are glad to have stopped by and are always smiling.

It’s a real special experience, being able to understand that these members of the community know that they are helping out others in a way that feels good and also has a payout for them. To see the smiles on their faces and feel their optimism is a wonderful thing and is one of the many reasons that interning with Hospitality House has been very much worth every single minute of my time.

Although these are special moments that have happened to me, I am confident in saying that many of the volunteers and interns that have worked with Hospitality House have had similar moments. If you haven’t had the chance to work with this wonderful group of people and to experience this organization, I strongly encourage you to do so.

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