Over the summer I started volunteering at a soup-kitchen called Chips, in my neighborhood, Park Slope, Brooklyn. I discovered the organization through the Park Slope Food Cooperative, a market that my parents shop at. (The Coop donates fresh produce to Chips.) I began to volunteer at Chips in order to fulfill my service requirement, but my experience has been so rewarding that I carve out a few hours every month to go there. I started out serving food, but over time I began to help out in the kitchen too – helping to make the meals. The reason why I enjoy volunteering at Chips is the appreciation that the clientele show. What I may see as a simple meal is way more to the people who come in, and many are bubbling with gratitude. Smiles and things people say like “God Bless you” warm my heart and make me wants to continue to help.
Over the course of the last few months, our group focused on the social issue Domestic Violence for our Youth Project Initiative (YPI Project.) We worked with the organization, “Volunteers of America.” Before this project, I had known that Domestic Violence had existed, but I didn’t know that it was such a big issue in New York City. My true awakening was after our site visit; I cannot even tell you the location of the shelter, because I pose a threat to those taking refuge there. I began to sympathize for Domestic Violence victims. Over the course of the project, I worked in a very large group, and I usually like to be the leader, and incorporate many of my ideas. However, I learned that my teammates were amazing, and had great ideas. Despite the fact that sometimes the project would be very boring, or keep me up at night, I knew I was doing this for a good cause, in order to benefit others suffering from something terrible.
I feel that I gained a lot from participating in the Youth Project Initiative(YPI). It allowed me to put myself in the shoes of other people, and sympathize for them. It made me appreciate the situation I am in. For example, people who are fleeing from an abuser will usually leave at a time when the abuser is away which is very unexpected. They will only be able to take a few items with them, and once they reach the shelter it almost like “Witness Protection.” Their previous life has disappeared. They no longer have the freedom that they had before, and some shelters lack the resources to make you feel “At Home.”
Our Group made it to the finals, and this was both something good and bad in a way to me. Presenting in front of the class made me nervous, but now I would have to present in front of my entire grade and judges. The most challenging part of the project was when we presented in the finals. My hands were sweating, I stuttered on certain words, and my body was trembling. Despite this I was doing it for a good cause, and I hoped that we could win to help Domestic Violence victims. The most rewarding part of the project was being able to learn about an important Social Issue. I enjoyed the benefiting experience.