Friday, November 20, 2009

Service Environments


As some of you know, Kyle and I are volunteering in our church's Next Gen program (Next Generation) It's a high school/middle school mentor program. We go to church every Wednesday and meet with our student to mentor them and provide support, basically just be there for them and listen to them. Starting out we had to do a 3 week long matching process, basically like speed dating but with mentors and students, :-P  After the three weeks, students pretty much said who they'd like to be their mentor and then everyone was matched up. I was matched up with an eleventh grade girl, and Kyle was matched up with 3 tenth grade boys (yes, 3, they were a little short at the start, he now just has two and they are still trying to recruit more mentors - the goal is for everyone to be one-on-one by the new year).

Anyway, once a month our Wednesday night time is spent somewhere doing a service learning project. This past week, my location was PRISM. PRISM stands for People Responding In Social Ministry and is a community-funded social service agency that provides families in need with food, financial assistance, transportation and other services in times of financial hardships (taken straight from their website).  It's actually a really cool organization. One of the things I thought was cool about it was they have a service shop to fix vehicles, so if someone donates their car they don't just impound it for the money. The car is actually fix up and given to a family to use. They also provide oil changes and repairs for families in need so they can keep their transportation reliable.  Another cool purpose of PRISM is to promote dignity, instead of just handing a family a bag of food that will last a few days and maybe consist of lima beans and bread or be items that won't even get eaten, families are given a list of what they can take. They go into the 'food shelf' and pick out what they want themselves. So they might have a list that states they can get cereal, milk, etc. and instead of being given any 'ol cereal they can pick out which kind they want. I like the way our guide put it "they are already dealing with enough and having to break down and ask for help, so why not provide them with a little bit of dignity so they can choose their own groceries".

They also had a clothing store. Things weren't free but pretty darn cheap, and again they could pick out what they wanted or needed. And a birthday store! This was pretty cool, families pay $15 and get to choose a small, medium, and large gift for their child AND get cake mix, frosting, and other various party supplies (hats, plates, napkins, depending what was there). It's pretty awesome that there are programs out there like this one.

Our job for the weekly service environment was to help make room for the many donations that will be coming in the next few months. So we sorted bags of groceries into these little boxes by category:

Then once they were filled, other students and mentors (we do our service environments as pairs) would take a cart and put them in the appropriate places throughout the warehouse 'food shelf'. You can kind of see the rest of the shelving in the background of this picture:

These service events are really fun and it's great to be able to help out our community! I particularly liked this one!

Thanks for reading!

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