From the months of May to November of 2016, I visited a woman in her early 80s with severe arthritis (amongst other, more severe, health issues that prohibited her from basic movement and taking care of herself and her dog, Boingo) in order to service her many household needs. I had known this woman for some time, and though watching her grow old and incapable has been rather heartbreaking, I was more than ready to offer my services as an able young person. During these biweekly visits, I would do a variety of chores for Ms. Dalrymple (such as taking Boingo on long walks through the park, watering the numerous ferns and plants in her household, cleaning up the excrement Boingo had left scattered throughout the previous days, doing the dishes and preparing small meals, mopping and wiping the dust-bunnies and dirt lining her house, etc.) but perhaps the most taxing (while still somehow enjoyable) part of this experience was planting a fully functional vegetable garden in her backyard. This experience was one that I undertook foolishly, as I did not realize the time and tedium that goes into planting a garden of such a vibrant nature (as in one with plants). The cost of seeds, soil and fertilization alone was a blow to the confidence I had built up in preparation of this job. But, after a couple of days lining the outside walls of her backyard with soil, potting plants into flowerpots (and mostly into the soil itself), and researching the various germination methods of seeds, I began to find the project rather rewarding in what I learned from it. This project taught me the nature of working on a project tirelessly for a long stretch of time, only to be rewarded (with a striking garden) at the very end (instead of receiving small payoffs or incentives along the way to keep me interested/working). This project also taught me about self-sustainability and being able to live off of the land, a basic human skill that eluded me before I had this experience.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of helping set up the lower school halloween party. It was so gratifying to blow up balloon after balloon, knowing that little children would be enjoying them later. Carrying boxes of candy up and down stairs was hard, but it was worth it knowing that the kids would go nuts over all the candy. The best part of the service experience was coming back the next day and getting to stand in the haunted hallway of the party, scaring little children. It was fun to dress up and spook the kids, and though some of them were unfazed, some of them got truly scared. The only downside was that I was wearing an itchy beard and the hallway was really hot, so I started to sweat profusely. However, this likely made me seem even more scary to the children, adding to my joy. I enjoyed knowing I was getting my service done in a fun, frightful, way.
Last Summer I went on a service trip to Alaska. I stayed in a very small Athabaskan community of less than 100 people, which was located about five hours from Fairbanks. The trip was very fun, and it was very interesting to see how a culture with almost no access to American pop culture functioned. I spent a lot of time with the inhabitants of the community, and was honored to be a part of many of their traditions. It was also enjoyable to hunt and fish with the elder members of the village, their only source of food being what they can hunt or grow themselves. Constructing a 15′ x 25′ outdoor cooking facility was a rewarding experience, and I enjoyed doing many different parts of the construction. My time in Alaska has affected the way I view many aspects of living in such a different place (New York City).
This year for service day, my grade went to Staten Island to do some mulching on the greenbelt conservatory. It was a rather underwhelming trip. It took a few hours to arrive, and a few hours to return to the school, which meant most of our service day was spent traveling. The ferry we took to Staten Island was nice, as it gave us a chance to be on a boat in the sun with fresh air. The lecture given about the history of the greenbelt conservatory was interesting, and provided information about the park. The hike in the conservatory was probably the best part of the day, because it gave us a chance to see the lush forest of the greenbelt conservatory. The time we spent doing actual service was about 30 minutes, which is a comically small amount of time for a day dedicated to service. We mulched the area outside of the main building, and raked away any undesirable plants. All in all, it was an alright service day, but it could have been more properly planned. A closer location would have most likely left us more time to do actual service, which is the goal of service day.
8 May 2014
The social issue I researched was child abuse, and the non-profit my group chose was the Jane Barker Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center. My attitude towards the social issue changed incredibly over the course of completing my project. I learned how strongly child abuse can be responsible for many other issues, such as drug abuse, and a cycle of abuse from child to child. I also realized the overwhelming amount of people who suffer from child abuse, a number I thought was far less than it actually is. By the time our YPI project was completed, I had also been strongly affected by a personal story told to me by a volunteer of the Jane Barker Advocacy Center, which detailed the life of one particular victim who was helped by Jane Barker.
I found the most rewarding aspect of the project was the knowledge that the Jane Barker Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center is one of the hardest working centers to end child abuse, and has a unique approach to dealing with children that works more effectively than other methods. I was also rewarded by knowing that the work completed by our group working with this non-profit was work that went to helping children who have been psychically or sexually abused, and that our work made an impact on people who can also try to help those who have been abused.
I worked alone.