My apologies for the delay, my Wifi connection is not the most reliable!
Needless to say a lot has happened since my last update about a week ago. The eleven of us spent Monday through Thursday in the Change A Heart orientation. Each day we discussed different the pillars of the program: simplicity, service, community and spirituality. Kelly and Galen (the wonderful people who run this program) had activities, reflections and experiences for us to connect with each of the topics ranging from socially responsible grocery shopping to serving with a faith based ministry of homeless outreach. This homeless outreach began through a church with its parishioners and has developed into a major operation spearheaded by one very meticulous and passionate woman living in Pittsburgh. Our whole group was able to experience her Monday Night routine as we packed up several cars at her house, where the operation is based out of her basement, and cruise down to the Boulevard of Allies. Boulevard of Allies is simply a street downtown where the line forms for the services this ministry provides. Though I can’t accurately estimate the number of people we served that night, our whole crew plus the regulars were out there from 10:30pm to 1:30am. The preparation for this line is an all week process and begins at about 7:00 at the house. Women from the nearby parish made sandwiches for all those in line. This ministry also provides additional groceries for those in housing, clothing, toiletries/towels, socks, shoes and household items. For all those Saint A’s people reading – its literally a little FCF every Monday! We all had a lot of fun meeting the other volunteers and the people who were waiting in line. There were all walks of life in the line, which exemplified the extent and variety of the need in this city we now call our own.
Thursday night the group separated and moved into the two different volunteer houses of Change A Heart. We are about a ten minute walk away from each other. Six girls live in Ed as we call it, and three boys, another girl and myself live in Mil. Our very first night was spent on our back porch, taking in the thunderstorm, this experience and each other. It was a long night of moving in, helping Ed move in then getting ourselves settled. I am sharing the attic with the other girl Com (community member). We each have small rooms but only one door separating us and the stairs leading up go into my corner. Its quirky and homey feeling. We both look forward to making it our own little space.
Friday was spent on the road for me, literally. Myself and another one of my Coms needed to get a screen done for our job site, so we walked from Bloomfield (our neighborhood) to Oakland, which was about a half hour walk one way. When we got back from that morning adventure, one of my Mil Coms and I trekked about a half hour the other direction to go to Giant Eagle for our weekly groceries. It was a different experience knowing we had a limited budget, and I will admit I was nervous we would overspend. Theres nothing like going to the grocery store hungry! This Mil Com is a Change A Heart veteran and had no concern about our cartload being too much. In the end, he was right, and it all worked out of course! One of our other Mil-mates is a fabulous cook and thus our guiding light in this experience. Last night (Saturday) he made pulled chicken in the crockpot with pineapple, bbq sauce, red onion and some choice spices I do not recall. It was to die for, especially after our long day, which I will get to soon. After our Giant Eagle run, we took the bus home which was my first time riding the bus here in Pittsburgh! Happily back at Mil, we met up with one of our Coms and he and I set out on a Target run for household needs. This walk was the longest yet, at least 40 minutes one way! Though it was long, we had a lot of fun and the Target had an escalator just for the shopping carts! Wild. Long story short, any Road for Hope nostalgia was fulfilled by my hours of walking! The evening was spent rearranging our living room, us girls being the “vision” and the boys being the muscle.
Saturday, ten of us set out to get fingerprints done for Americorps and then to hit the Strip District for produce, people watching and as one of our Mil-Coms stated “to smell the cheeses.” We set out walking to Oakland but found ourselves in the middle of downtown after a wrong turn! Though we walked a little out of the way, we were right near the Strip District! This little adventure definitely tested us on our flexibility and trust in each other! As many of you know, I am all about the adventure of things, and I had heard that the Strip District was something to see. We went there for cheap produce and saw tons of stalls full of sweets, cheeses, meats, clothes..almost anything you can imagine. Unfortunately we were on a time crunch to make it to the fingerprinting place before it closed, so we only walked around a little. After taking a bus to Oakland and getting our prints done, two of our awesome Coms bought giant slurpees for us all to share. After about four hours of walking and bussing, we were overjoyed to see them coming slurpees and straws in hand!! Finally we headed back to good old Bloomfield, made dinner and joined Ed for a birthday celebration! Ed decorated the living room and made cupcakes for when she arrived home from a fundraiser event for her site! Ed and Mil spent the night wobbling, laughing and Feeling 22.