I may be falling behind a bit on this blogging thing, but that's because my internship has taken so long to set up. First, I didn't know my schedule because my Spanish teacher was in South America, but I was having good communication with the places I wanted to work. Then, I found out my schedule, but the communication was bad. Now, I think things are finally falling into place, and I'm really pleased with how things are turning out.
I am planning on doing most of my hours (or at least half) with Casa de Esperanza in St. Paul (or maybe partly in the Minneapolis location as well). "Casa de Esperanza," for those of you who don't know, means "house of hope," and I think it's a great name for a great organization. The main goal for the organization as a whole is ending domestic violence, especially among Hispanics. However, the component of the organization that I will be working with will be their resource centers. Part of their way of combatting domestic violence is to provide resources to people so that stress levels and other factors don't put people in positions where there is domestic violence. It's really hard to describe what I'll be doing, and the only reason I understand it is because I do the same kind of work when I am at home, with the Hispanic Outreach Program at Western Avenue Community Center.
I can't really talk about Casa yet, since I don't start until Thursday, but I definitely can talk about Western Avenue. I started volunteering there in January of my senior year of high school. I just wanted to get some Spanish skills under my belt for AP exams, but it turned into so much more--a calling, a group of friends, a place where one can really experience the greatness of God.
At Western Avenue, working with the people made me realize how I can use my skills to help others. Like the quote says, our calling is where the world's deep hunger and our passions meet, and I definitely saw the world's deep hunger just from walking in the doors of Western Avenue. I also discovered my passion for the Spanish language and Hispanic culture.
While working at Western Avenue in my free time this summer, I realized something that I'm kind of surprised I hadn't realized before--Western Avenue is where some of my best friends are. The employees and clients there may not be my age, they may not go to school with me or have similar tastes in music or tv shows, but we are all there for the same purpose. I'm not ashamed to say that some of my best friends are over 50 years old. We are all there because we love the center, we love what it does for people, and we could see how God works through us there.
The last time I was at Western Avenue before today was about 12 hours before I started my drive to CSP. One thing I remember about that night was that the food pantry was really bare. My friend and mentor used to talk about how worried she was that it was so empty. However, today when I walked into the center, I was greeted by more food than I had ever seen in my life outside of a grocery store. A church had held a food drive and had brought in enough food to fill our bare food pantry to the brim, plus fill a few extra boxes. While stacking the food on the shelves, I just thought about how many people God has reached through the center, and how he has reached me even through my volunteer work there.
Needless to say, I am very excited to finally be starting this project. I worked with a few clients today at Western Avenue, including one who was wrongfully terminated from her job. I helped her fill out a job application, and she helped us shelve the donated food. She ended up being there for around four hours. We helped a few other people with things like translating passports and making phone calls, telling them when the mobil consulate was going to be near, and other random things like that. Tomorrow, my supervisor and I are taking a trip to Chicago to check out another agency and see how we can improve our program to best help our clients. When we get back, the kids I babysit for the Latina women's support group will be there, so I'm really excited for that!
I start with Casa de Esperanza on Thursday. I think it will be interesting to see the differences between a medium-sized town and a bigger city and also between resource centers with a social worker and those run by volunteers.
Sorry this is so long! I'm passionate, okay? :)