Frustration, community, and hope are the three words I use to describe my experience at St. Martin’s Hopeworks over fall break. These three concepts are definitely intertwined but each gave me so much grace that will carry me into my future of working for justice.
Frustration. Our group worked with and for people experiencing homelessness in Albuquerque, NM. We managed the front desk, served two meals a day, ran the clothing and shower stations, and tried to do anything else the shelter needed. You might be asking yourself what was so frustrating? Watching so many raw things during the week – people experiencing mental illnesses, alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, and anxiety, I saw people at their most vulnerable and I couldn’t do anything about it. All I could do was sit and listen to the community and hopefully connect on a deep level with the people I was serving. It was so frustrating to see people go through all this intense pain and all I, a privileged college student, could do was just be there. But that is the thing. By just being there, maybe I was making a difference. The frustration that I felt led me to a deeper reflection on my position in this world.
Community. I saw the same people come in each day to the shelter, which is a sign that this was a place where people felt safe, secure, and welcomed. As the week went on, I saw the community of people at the shelter and the community of students on this trip form their own community. Hopes, fears, joys, sorrows, and stories were shared, indicating a deep sense of trust. Even though it took a while for this community to form and take shape, it happened, and now some members of our group want to send letters back to individuals at the shelter. This is the power of community.
Hope. It’s in the name. St. Martin’s Hopeworks. I saw hope at work each and every day at this shelter. I saw hope in the smile on a client’s face when they had a good conversation with someone in our group. I saw hope in the security guards for the shelter telling us “success stories” of the clients. I saw hope in the fact that the shelter also has behavioral health, mental health, social services, and case management on site for people to utilize. Even if the shelter changes the life in a small way for one client, the shelter is changing the world in my mind.
Frustration, community, hope. Looking back, I’ll be forever grateful for the difficulty, frustration, and anger that I felt during and after this trip. It is through those emotions that I was better able to cultivate community and find ways to build hope in our society for the years to come.
Class of 2018
The SCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice (SCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the SCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.