On MLK Day, I had the opportunity to participate in a leadership summit and a service project in the afternoon. The morning started out with a keynote speaker, Venus Ricks. She was wonderful! I enjoyed listening to all she had to say. The one thing that really stood out to me from her was that you need to make your volunteer experience deeper through research. When you go and volunteer, not knowing what it is for or only knowing a little is not enough. Being able to understand what you're doing makes the experience deeper. It makes it more meaningful for you and for whoever you are helping. Volunteering shouldn't be to solely benefit you and through research you can make it more about others. I thought that was really neat. I also "know" what I am doing, but I don't normally do the research and see all they have to offer. It's something I should do and experience so I know what exactly I am doing to impact others.
Stacy Zimmerman, someone who I have had the privilege to know at Elizabethtown College, also said a few words where she said you find joy through helping others. Helping others is one of the most impactful things you can do in your life that not only benefits you, but the people around you.
The final speaker, Eric Walker, told us a quote that said if you had $86,400 in your bank account every day and every day after that you would get the same amount. It would never carry over to the next day, so you only ever have $86,400 in your bank account. What would you do with it? The significance to that number is that is how many seconds there are in a day. How are you going to use those seconds? To watch some tv on the couch with popcorn or go out and impact someone else's life. He also said that when you do something your mentality shouldn't be "I have to do this," but "I get to do this." Everything is an opportunity and you should live life that way.
After this summit, I had the opportunity to go to ECHOS (Elizabethtown Community Housing and Outreach Services). While we were there, we packed bags for the people staying there to have something to eat during the day. I got to work with a nice group of RAs from my college! There was also a group of people that packed laundry bags where it had a tide pod, a dryer sheet, and three dollars in quarters so the people could wash their clothing. We were able to get a small tour of the building where the offices are and the clothing donations. Because of the cold day, they kept the shelter open (It normally closes during the day) so we were unable to see where they slept.
At one point, the lady in charge needed help getting snacks from the other building, so I volunteered. I was able to see the kitchen while I was there and I learned that people come and make frozen meals for them. At ECHOS, they not only have a shelter, but help the people in the shelter get back on their feet and move into apartments eventually. It makes it so they're not just living there, but working to move on with their life and I think that is so neat! I really want to help some day with the moving team and help someone move into their apartment!
I think it is so amazing how there are organizations like this all over the world. People assume that just because they live in a certain town and have clean water everyone else must be the same, but that is not the case! Towns don't have to be run down for people to not have homes. Elizabethtown is a great example! I live in Elizabethtown and yet there is still need around me, I just have to look! It would have been so easy for me to go my four years here at this school without knowing that there are homeless people in this town. You might be surprised with the amount of people that you live by who are in need. Even if it means they can't afford enough food, but have a home. If you are interested in helping at a homeless shelter, I'm sure there is one not too far from you! Just look it up :) I also added the link to their website below if you would like to check it out!