A short story highlighting the experiences we as a group had at Hospitality House and the wonderful organization that it is.
Like all things that are unknown or new to us as humans, there is a period in which we must get used to a new environment or situation. This goes the same for volunteering at Hospitality House. When we first walked through those doors we had no idea what we were getting into. We didn’t know how people were going to react to us being there, we didn’t understand how the organization was run and we had no idea what we would be doing over the long semester. But like all things that take getting used to, Hospitality House was no different.
We began working at Hospitality House and although it was a new experience for most of us, it truly felt different than anything we had experienced before. Most of our group’s volunteer hours were spent in the kitchen either cooking or serving for the residents. When working in the kitchen, everything is up to you and what you want to do for the people living there. Instead of the staff having all the food made when you walk in the door it was up to us to decide what we wanted to make. Being allowed that freedom gave the whole experience a more personal and rewarding feeling and that feeling would not be the same if we were to simply serve already prepared food.
Even though serving people was enjoyable and rewarding, the main thing that set Hospitality House apart from anything we had ever experienced before was the people. At every meal, residents are so grateful for you to be there. You could simply be standing around talking with people, learning their situation, or nothing at all and they will thank you for what you do, no matter the case. You might think that due to their situations and hardships that they would be cold and stern towards you, but that is certainly not the case, they are very grateful for what you are doing and go out of their way to make sure you know that you are making an impact and that it means something.
While serving meals, you can look out and see everyone laughing and talking together. Hospitality House creates a community for people that may not have had one, give them a place to stay, communicate with others, simply feel human. It is amazing to witness the impact that this one organization can have on the people seeking help or currently volunteering. The amount of dedication and uniqueness to their work in comparison to others can be heavily seen throughout their practices.
The spectrum of things that are available is very inspiring and awesome to see. There is counseling and efforts to find housing for folks, it’s just not a place to come and get a shower, lay your head down and get a meal, there is so much more to it. Having the opportunity and experience to work with great people and residents at Hospitality House has really allowed us as a group to become more open to people and their situations. As much as we hate to admit it, there is a universal stigma or negative connotation toward homelessness and even though we would like to say we didn't have that mindset, we did. That is why it is so important for places like Hospitality House to raise a more positive outlook and understanding of what homelessness really looks like and to make everyone feel equal in every way possible, and it does just that.