During the recent Day of service, the eleventh grade went to Harlem to help out at the Food Bank. While there, we bagged fresh produce, and assisted the Food Bank’s clients in picking out the food they want.
The Food Bank’s clients that day were by and large elderly people, and there were many of them. I found it quite troubling that those who are most in need of assistance are unable to get it from the city or state, and the fact that there were so many people compounded this feeling all the more. This is also made even worse by the fact that, upon arriving at the site, we found out that there were only two other volunteers that day. This experience has shown me just how much needs to be done on the issue of hunger and food insecurity.
This summer I volunteered at the Brooklyn Heights headquarters for the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. As everyone is aware, while all elections are important, this is not your average election. There was no perfect candidate. But the only other viable candidate was Donald Trump, who needs no introduction. Furthermore, I had long entertained the idea of getting involved in the political process; the idea of participating in my democracy even if I was unable to vote had appealed to me for a while, and this was the mother of all democratic processes. Besides, I needed to o something over the summer, and I figured that I may as well do some good in the world.
Once I was approved to volunteer, myself and Nidhin Nishanth went to headquarters in Brooklyn Heights to phone bank. We called voters all across the country to spread the word about events, allay concerns about Hillary Clinton, help local campaigns spread the word, and generally get out the vote. With a television sitting in the corner of the phone banking room, we could see the latest developments, and even some campaign ads before they were released en masse. Between calls, I was able to talk with other Clinton supporters about politics, the world, and so on and so forth. I also got to talk on a few occasions with undecided voters and republicans who were shocked and disgusted by the antics of Donald Trump.
Overall, I had a good experience, and, given the chance, I think I would do this kind of service again.
Around Thanksgiving, the New York Common Pantry provides a full Thanksgiving dinner to each of their clients. As NYCP serves many people, they had quite a task ahead of them, and needed help in order to actually be able to provide the dinners in a timely manner. Since many items would be provided in bags, and turkey would have to be wrapped in twine, we were put to the tasks of pre-openning bags, so the Pantry employees would not have to do so themselves, and cutting lengths of twine for the turkey wrappings. This experience made me consider the impact of being able to have a Thanksgiving dinner with family when food is often not available. I realized that by doing these small tasks, I was helping to speed the process of households becoming more food secure. This made me thankful for the experience as a whole.
For my YPI social issue, My group and I chose unemployed veterans. We chose this issue because it is a root cause of numerous other issues, such as suicide, crime, homelessness, addiction, and mental illness. For our nonprofit organization we chose I.A.V.A., which stands for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
One thing in particular which affected my views on unemployment of veterans was the Wall of Why at the I.A.V.A. Headquarters. This was a wall covered in messages and pictures to remind the people who work there what it is that they are fighting for. At first, I thought of unemployed veterans as just a subset of unemployed people who sometimes had slight disadvantages due to injuries. But as I researched the issue more and more I found that they were severely disadvantaged and often had no means of making up for this. I found that this was a serious issue that had yet to be addressed on a large scale.
The most challenging part of this project was actually finding a nonprofit to work with. The first nonprofit we looked at was not actually able to operate due to financial reasons, and others we looked at were not as focused on the New York community. I.A.V.A. Started in New York, and uses it as the testing ground for its programs. The most rewarding part of the experience was during our site visit. We interviewed an employee of the organization who had himself gone through its programs. This inspired me to try to win The grant far more than before.
In the course of this project I learned numerous skills in presentation and research. I learned effective presentation skills and researching my organization.
Today, December 9, I volunteered at the New York Common Pantry. This was my first big volunteering experience, so it left a sizable impression on me. The pantry part of the organization has produce put in one-pound bags for distribution to those in need. However, due to the large amounts of produce donated to them, they need help to bag it all. This is where the volunteers came in. We unpacked the produce, and then bagged it. Without help, this job likely would have taken six or more hours, but because we volunteered, it only took two. I felt good knowing that I had helped feed several numerous families who couldn’t afford to feed themselves.