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Reflecting On My Time

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

My summer at Hospitality House was one of experience, insight, and empathy. Despite working and volunteering at soup kitchens before, I had never spent time at a non-profit that tackles homelessness as radically as Hospitality House. This was the factor that drew me in the most and inspired me to apply for a summer internship.

Despite my awareness of Hospitality House’s mission and in my opinion elevated way of helping our local homeless community, I was still surprised at the sheer volume of work it took to achieve such an ambitious goal. Every Sunday over the summer I would drive to the two Food Lions in our area to pick up their supply of weekly donations. Week after week I would load boxes upon boxes of fresh produce, dairy, meat, bread, and dessert into my car, feeling the hundreds of pounds weigh on my car as I drove around curves and down hills. Unloading was always a bigger struggle than loading, as finding room for all of our new goods can be quite the challenge. Many afternoons were spent sorting through new and old produce alike, and even as I got used to the process, the sheer volume of food that came through our doors was still surprising.

As I carried boxes into the pantry, residents would stop by to chat, some even offering to help unload with me. I always loved these interactions. The symbiotic relationship between the staff and clients at Hospitality House was something I did not expect but was pleasantly surprised to discover. It was in these moments, arms full of frozen hamburgers and iceberg lettuce, that I felt the most close to our clients. Conversations happened easily, with comments either being made about the amount of food or what was going to be made with the donations. I loved days when Food Lion would give me bouquets, as passing out flowers to residents and clients always seemed to brighten their days, with many of them commenting how their flowers would look perfect in their rooms. It was times like these when I felt most comfortable in my internship, and though offering a flower is a small gesture, I always left feeling as if I had made a difference, even if just for that day.

This past summer at Hospitality House has opened my eyes in ways I could not have imagined. It is an experience I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to have, and I know as I continue in college and graduate this spring, I will not forget the lessons learned here- lessons full of compassion, understanding, and respect for others.

I am so thankful to have gotten to spend my summer at Hospitality House

-Elizabeth Eichen

photo taken at hosp. house garden

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