It has been nearly two months since my ASB: NY experience and now that I reflect back on the experience, I am able to pinpoint lessons that I initially did not even consider. Through ASB: NY, I was made aware of a population that is often forgotten. Our group worked with individuals, left in the shadows because obstacles exist in their lives, which inhibits their ability to stand up for themselves. They do not have anyone in their corner who can speak on their behalf. The Bowery Mission and God’s Love We Deliver gave the eleven ladies of ASB: NY (Caitlin, Anda, Maeve, Jenn, Laura, Renee, Stephanie, Hannah, Jess, Sarah, Gabby) and myself an opportunity to represent these individuals for a week. As a group, we learned that true volunteerism is not often glamorous, and sometimes comes with little or no reward, not even a “Thank You.” However, it is not about the glamour or the “Thank You.” It is about the people that we are helping. It is about the human beings, who are overcoming hurdles every single day just to stay alive. The clients, who benefit from the services of God’s Love We Deliver and The Bowery Mission, overcome personal, health, financial and social barriers that many of us could not even fathom. Thus, it is our duty as fellow members of society to do our part to help them because society cannot just relegate them to the fringes of our community. Throughout the week, each member of our group had an opportunity to reflect on their preconceived perspectives on New York City, its homeless population, and the people that benefit from social programs that operate within the city’s limits. Some learned that a “homeless” person is not necessarily what you see on TV. Others were able to step outside their comfort zone in order to learn the truth about the world. Some even learned how strange it felt to be an outsider in a different community.
We did have moments of fun and hilarity. These moments came about during the daily recaps when everyone shared stories about their journeys throughout the boroughs of New York City. I learned that “pesto sauce” and “fish” do work well together. We all learned that there is a technique when chopping up potatoes and cauliflowers. Everyone had the technique down by the 4th or 5th bag of 50lbs of potatoes.
Simply put, ASB: NY was a great experience. It was not easy, but at the end of each day, we all played a part in providing a necessity someone else. I hope that through our service, the eleven ladies and I were able to increase awareness about homelessness and terminal illnesses, and continue the great work done by ASB and non-profits like The Bowery Mission and God’s Love We Deliver!