This winter, I, with a group of Friends students, planted bulbs in Stuyvesant Park. A woman (whose name I don’t remember, unfortunately) overlooks the upkeep of the park as well as trying to make it a more beautiful and enjoyable space. This year there were thousands of bulbs to plant, so each of us had a lot of work to do. In addition to feeling like I was anonymously contributing to the area in which many people spend a great deal of time, I knew that I would be able to enjoy the results of the work that my peers and I did together. It was a surprisingly good feeling to know that the people who enjoyed the tulips and daffodils would not know that I had contributed, and nonetheless my work would hopefully make people’s park experiences more enjoyable. It was also a lot of fun coming out together, listening to music in the cold, and figuring out a system to get them planted efficiently.
Over the summer, I came back to Bideawee for my third year of service with them. I was responsible to doing the laundry, cleaning the rooms, and playing with the cats and dogs. I got to volunteer with my sister. I enjoyed spending time with her while being productive.
It was exciting to be one of the older and more experienced volunteers as I was able to teach the younger volunteers how to do the laundry, and I was able to do more work by myself. Each time, after I finished cleaning the rooms, I would sit in the cat rooms. As soon as I sat down, Pumpkin would jump into my lap. Pumpkin is classified as a red, which means that she can be very frisky. I felt very honored to see her sweet side.
I also got to learn more about Bideawee as an organization. The CEO of Bideawee was trying to shut down the location where I was working. I was so moved by the community’s response as they made it clear how important Bideawee was to them.
This year, I wrote for the Friends Seminary newspaper, The Insight. I wrote about the Paralympics scandal this past summer, an op ed about the drinking age, and a recount of this year’s DRA. I learned more about these three topics which interest me, and I helped contribute to the school newspaper.
On MLK day, I went with my synagogue to volunteer at the Hebrew Union College soup kitchen (http://huc.edu/campus-life/new-york/soup-kitchen). They provide meals to food-insecure people every Monday. One unique thing about this kitchen is that they set up the kitchen as a restaurant, with volunteers who serve food and seat the clients. The permanent volunteers decided to set the kitchen up this way because it preserves dignity and would allow their clients to relax for the time that they were having a meal. I have gone to this kitchen for the past few MLK days and one of my favorite aspects is how they create a community among their clients and volunteers by taking care to help people connect with eachother and feel safe and relaxed.
I volunteered at Reading Partners. It was a lot of fun. I tutored this great kid named Hayden and I helped him improve his reading skills. It was very cool to see how my teaching was making an impact on him. I had a great time.
I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to go to QYLC again last weekend, hosted by Brooklyn Friends and Mary McDowell. The topic was “Bridging Communities,” a very important thing to consider in light of the election and all else that is going on right now. The conference was attended by many other Quaker schools in the Northeast (and one from Canada!), so it was interesting to talk with other students who I share a Quaker education with. There were great speakers, including the CEO of NYC Planned Parenthood, Joan Malin, who spoke on a panel, and Niyonu Spann. I also went on a cultural trip to the Jewish Heritage Museum, which I found extremely insightful and relevant. Afterwards, I went on a service trip to a local childcare center to make valentines for the kids and to play with them for a bit. QYLC was a very insightful and fun experience.
Fortune SocietyMy group worked with Fortune Society for the YPI. My attitude towards the the project was initially one of getting the project done. Although I am passionate about the issue, I felt that I didnt really have the time. However, as the project progressed, I really got a feel for the charity and how important the work they did was. The most challenging part was tht we spent a lot of time on one charity but they ended up not reching us back in time. Because of this, our group had to switch gears quicly and move to Fortune Society. This project was really great and I am happy that we did it.
Over the summer, I volunteered at Bideawee in Westhampton. Bideawee is a no kill animal with three locations in New York. My sister and I went in four times a week for two or three hours each day. Work at Bideawee made me realize how neglected some animals are. At the shelter there were animals that have been abandoned and beaten. There was a dog that came from the south with a broken jaw. One of the volunteers told me that the dog’s previous own shot its mouth with an air soft gun. Matilda, cat at the shelter, has Feline Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH). CH makes Matilda have jerky movements and she often falls into her own litter. Matilda has to live in a padded room so she does not hurt herself. The saddest part is that she is the most loving cat in the world and she still hasn’t been adopted. It’s heartbreaking to know that some of the animals at the shelter have been there for at least 8 years. Jackie, a blind dog, has been at the shelter for so long that she is now blind. The no one will adopt her and the shelter can’t kill her. Whenever anyone came in to look at any of the animals, I would get so excited and hope that someone would adopt Jackie or Matilda, but no one ever did.
At the shelter I also has cleaning responsibilities. I cleaned litter boxes, washed windows, did laundry, mopped floor. It was a nice balance of work and play. I loved getting to know the staff and all of the animals.
Here is a video of one of the cats at the shelter. Someone found her with wire wrapped around her leg. The wire gave her a very bad cut. She also came into the shelter with a broken back. She has been in the animal hospital for over two weeks.
Here is a photo of me with Matilda.