This weekend we began with a day full of Americorps Kickoff events including many speakers, get to know yous and a short service project in the afternoon. After a quick rest we all set off for a trip to downtown to the gallery crawl and bridge party in honor of the rubber duck arriving in port. The duck was awesome to see in person, just as whimsical as I imagined. We had a lot of fun poking around the various vendors and Cupid Shuffling with the crowd on the bridge.
Saturday we all attended and helped to set up the Catholic Young Adult symposium for Western Pennsylvania in Oakland. There were many speakers and break out sessions that we all attended. There was a significant showing there which is always great to see. Afterwards we were treated by my roommate Martha’s family bringing us pizza and some local brews from Cleveland before they headed home for the weekend.
This week and weekend were pretty uneventful for the most part in terms of my service but I have been learning lots about the people I serve and what I will be doing for the year. Words do not describe how grateful I am to be a part of the program I serve for each day. I have the opportunity to “enter into the chaos of others” in ways I never thought possible. A speaker at the symposium, quoting someone I honestly cannot recall, spoke of the basis of service being the virtue of mercy. Mercy was thus defined as entering into the chaos of others with the intention of doing good for them, by them and with them. (in some or not so many words). My service with OSN allows me to do just that. Needless to say, I am not lucky I’m blessed.
This is a quote recalled by Dr. Whithers today as he reflected with all of the OSN and satellite staff about our work. It stood out to me, so I thought I would share!
“Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say ‘We have done this ourselves.” ― Lao Tzu
The quote above is a perfect segway into the theme of this post, which is OUTREACH! Yesterday was my first direct outreach experience with OSN. It was similar to some of my other experiences in outreach, but the OSN organization has significant connection to the street homeless community and far more resources than any previous outreach I have experienced. Not only do they provide simple immediate needs of food, water or warm socks, the outreach teams can offer health care, case management and connections to resources provided by OSN and other programs. The outreach we do is a perfect harmony of charity and justice, meeting immediate needs while providing opportunity for empowerment and assistance for all we serve.
I went out with Dr. WIthers, Mike the outreach guy and another clinical volunteer, a fellow nurse. We walked throughout downtown seeking people in need. I asked if there were any typical spots they could expect people to be staying and Mike said that beyond a couple likely go to places, the people who sleep outside can land anywhere. He depends mostly on his expansive history of working in outreach and a lot of natural intuition to find those in need. I absolutely loved everything about providing outreach, talking to people, seeing where they spend time and meeting some of the key informants of the community. Building an honest rapport with the people is integral to our mission being a success. Some thing that stands out to me about OSN in general is its relationship with the community’s population who are homeless or housing unstable. Working with pros like Mike and Dr. Whithers is humbling and inspiring as I move forward in my experience.
Today we had a staff retreat/training/team building day where all the staff from Trail Lanes Apartments, Wellspring Drop In Center, Generations and Operation Safety Net gathered together to get to know each other. Basically I spent my day playing games and swinging on the swings at Shenley Park with my supervisor. It was such a blast to get to know people from other programs especially because we are going to be consolidating some of our services. I am in love with my program, the passion of everyone we are surrounded by and my clients. Overall…its been a good two days.
This weekend was full of fun for us Change A Heart members. Friday night was a low key night over at Edmond cleaning, grocery shopping and hanging out, preparing for our weekend of fun to come!
Saturday morning Sean and I prepared a few things for our open house pot puck. Luckily, Sean was given some avocados at work so he made some guacamole dip! I made some pesto from the basil in our garden for a pasta salad. We had a good time preparing our dishes together, listening to music and happily discovering that we have a food processor! Something I did not expect about living in this community house was how often we would come across undiscovered treasures like Christmas lights and random appliances. Its a fun reminder of the communities that filled our house in the past. We hosted the is open house at the Edmond house because it is bigger and more people live there! Change A Heart Alumni, Sisters from our program, Board Members, family and friends. We ate, drank and danced the afternoon away. That evening a bunch of us went out dancing on the South Side.
Sunday a bunch of us went to Kennywood, a local amusement park for which we got discounted tickets! It was a ton of fun riding roller coasters all day! We came home feeling exhausted but grateful for our busy weekend.