Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Tomorrow we have the Three Rivers Community College Volunteer Fair, which will complete our world tour (county tour?). Absolutely going to make t-shirts for this now, New London Homeless Hospitality Center Volunteer Recruitment WORLD TOUR, complete with dates on the back...for a small donation I'll even sign it. We have gotten a hold of some really unbelievable volunteers lately from the Coast Guard Academy and Connecticut College. We haven't worked with the Conn College folks yet, but they are so enthusiastic and eager to help I want to meet every single one of them right this second. I plan on setting up some maintenance tasks for them, beginning with organizing our storage closet downstairs. The Coast Guard cadets have been amazing about bringing and serving the food from the Academy on Wednesday nights, so many of them jumped at that opportunity immediately. I must say, and not surprisingly, that I am extremely impressed with their compassion and the hard work that comes along with it. Hey cadets and Conn College students...WE APPRECIATE YOU!! thank you!!
Gabi is training so many Help Desk volunteers right now that soon enough, birth certificates, job apps, resumes, and all that jazz will be totally out of our hands (that's the goal). We have some day coverage 4 days a week and night coverage is up to 3 I believe. There are currently 7 or 8 Help Desk volunteers, when we started there were 3! Talk about world tour...Gabi is taking over this place!
Michelle got her first grant! It was like Christmas when the letter came in, the organization had $1,500 to grant, and $46,000 were requested throughout the process. She was up with some seriously stiff competition but she got it! For sure the best fundraising coordinator ever.
You dedicated readers will remember our friend, Pierre. I was starting to worry because I hadn't seen him in a while, nor had I heard anything about how he was doing. He stopped into the Drop In yesterday and I was able to catch up with him finally. Pierre is not only employed, but he has an apartment! Talk about a major success story!
Good updates, good updates. My Boston Bruins coffee mug (2-1 against Montreal last night preseason by the way) is about 1/4 full right now. That's right, NOT mostly empty, but partially full. So I'm going to refill the tank and make this the best Tuesday of the week.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Within the Errera Center is CVLC, the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center. CVLC provides legal assistance to more than 245 veterans, and more than half of the clients are homeless or were recently homeless. CVLC relies on volunteer lawyers and law students to help ill veterans get treatment to break down barriers.
After touring this facility and seeing the map of VA housing in Connecticut, we are beyond excited to continue working with ECCC and CVLC and improving our own services for veterans, including employment services. Gabi is looking forward to shadowing the Employment Specialist over at ECCC to learn more about how to get our veterans into promising jobs. We were so proud as VISTAs to be a part of this and to have these connections that will ultimately allow us to better serve our guests at HHC.
|How many submariners does it take to sanitize a table?|
Just kidding guys, you're amazing!
|our bathroom stalls have never looked better|
|It appeared that our vents have actually never been cleaned before.|
Friday, September 16, 2011
First of all, an incredible outcome to share with you is that Kenny (a client Gabi has been working closely with) got a job as an adjunct teaching Engineering Statistics next semester at Three Rivers Community College. It's been an exciting process of setting up interviews, getting interview clothes, talking with our Help Desk volunteer Ron, sending and receiving emails, and finally GETTING THE JOB!! This is so exciting and a huge accomplishment for Kenny, since he has a Masters in Engineering and all...
This weekend there is a cookout hosted by Shiloh Baptist Church at our overnight shelter location and though we've never been to it before, our guests are really excited about it which makes us really excited about it too. This week we've been planning the set up and rain plans, which are looking like they'll be unnecesary as we are expecting beautiful fall weather (assuming that you like fall, which I do, if not then it's going to be terribly awful fall weather.) It begins at 5pm and should be ending around 7pm.
Sunday we have a Bi-Weekly Maintenance Day (which we have completely failed to make bi-weekly). However, we could not be happier to welcome back our favorite PCU Mississippi volunteers who will be painting bathroom stalls and the outdoor railings, deep cleaning our bathroom floors and shower, and cleaning the vents in the community room. They'll probably end up doing a million other little things we can't think of because that's what they tend to do. Maybe they'll fold blankets again and try to do every task we casually mention should be done sometime in the next year.
I went over to the Veteran's House today with Charles to do inspections, I had never seen the inside of the building so that was cool, it was really nice, I guess I didn't know what to expect. Charles also told me I would make a good cop, which I'm sure my dad would be very proud of.
Gabi and I are now the proud owners of our very own file holder! Alyssa said it took her a year to get one of these but we were lucky enough to only have to wait 2 and a half months. I even labeled my folders. I'm hoping this makes you think that I'm organized and keep track of things well, however that would be a lie so I won't say it flat out. We have a few rules in this office...Jackie isn't allowed to hold onto receipts and Gabi isn't allowed to hold onto keys.
At 1pm we have a meeting with a professional soccer player who wants to come in and volunteer with us, so I'm going to wrap this up as we also have a meeting at 12 with our director about the Help Desk. Enjoy your weekends and this crisp weather! Maybe heat up a cup of apple cider and wrap yourself up in a blanket...I now feel inclined to post a few of my favorite fall pictures...
|Vermont, of course.|
|Vermont again, Fall Foliage Festival 2007.|
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
I hope it helps our guests when I blast this advice at them too. When I'm asked "Should I call any of these numbers?" and handed a list of detox facilities I cannot think of anything to say other than "be honest with yourself, are you happy right now?" When filling out job applications, someone hesitates to answer a question honestly and I probably get annoying saying "be honest with yourself, if you don't want to tell the employer about this, is this really a job you want?"
I'm also reminded of the book "He's Just Not That Into You", the whole point of this book (and the corresponding movie) is to stop accepting the haze you're looking through and just SEE things as they are. I have this philosophy, if from the outside I would not be envious of my life, I'm doing something wrong and I need to make changes. This comes full circle to being honest with myself, not settling for a life you know you can improve. This is something I LOVE seeing in our guests, as well as in other people I meet. When a guest is ambitious, it's obvious. These are the people who come to Gabi and I of their own will to fill out job applications, the people who want to further their education and get GEDs and CNAs, because they know that they can do it. It makes my day to see a guest take positive steps on their own to better their situation, because they aren't happy where they are and they're being honest with themselves about it. Ahhh, deep inhale, slow exhale, humanity is so beautiful.
If you took the time to read this one, thank you. I know it's unrelated to the stuff I've been writing lately but I've been thinking and thinking and thinking and just needed to get it written down somewhere. I hope you are happy with your life and the direction you see it heading, and if you're not, I have complete faith in you making changes. It's terrifying, it's intimidating, but it's also fun and exciting to know that you are being honest with yourself. I promise, try it, you'll see.
|capturing some of the finished products|
|first round of volunteers hard at work!|
|3 of our veterans, Patrick Kelley and David Fairman of ECCGA, |
and Daniel Garcia from the PCU Mississippi (not in that order)
After this concluded, I enjoyed some time with our amazing vets and co-workers, then got in my car and booked it to my moms house in Westerly for a relaxing night. Took a mental health day Monday (I honestly, fully, and whole heartedly believe that mental health days are absolutely necessary).
I declare this weekend a success. I hope you all had the chance to honor the lives lost on 9/11 and to thank a veteran or someone currently serving. The next post for the day is coming soon, has nothing to do with this weekend or anything, just spilling some thoughts on my mind recently.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
I sat down to write my college essay, with no idea where to start or where I wanted it to go when he came in and told me he was leaving. I thought it might only be for a few minutes and it was the whole night. I walked into school crying and was immediately engulfed into the arms of my girlfriends that I still call my best friends. As alone as I felt over those next two years, I always had arms around me and hands wiping my tears every time they fell. They stayed with me through the fights, the silence, the divorce, the moves, and the marriage. When my dad told me I could have 2 friends at his wedding, I said "ok" leaving out the fact that I had 9 confirmed. As soon as the ceremony was over, I felt the water works beginning and one of the hands that was holding me up took me by my own hand and led me away. I stood behind a tree with my eyes covered, crying for uncertainty and she let me cry the whole while telling me we would be ok. WE, not YOU, we were all in this and I was not alone.
I left for college and I found myself falling into directions that I didn't expect, I lost touch with my girlfriends. After spending three years with someone who made me feel invincible, I came to my senses and found myself facing my senior year of college alone. I should have learned from before that my girlfriends will never leave me alone. Katy ran me a bath almost every night, Meghann and Sam baked brownies that we all ate with a spoon, Rachel ate dinner with me even when mine only consisted of part of a bagel and chicken broth, Meredith left me a can of tea with a note on scrap paper in pink marker telling me she loved me, Kim told me stories of her vivid dreams (like the time she dreamed we were all penguins in the Soviet Army).
I graduated and the largest chapter of my life ended. It's not like in high school when you say goodbye and you literally mean "see you tomorrow", goodbye meant "I don't know" this time. I cried for days, thinking about saying goodbye to these girls still makes me hurt. However, Kim called my on her way to Vermont the other day and I went to lunch in Burlington with Meredith, Sam, and Meghann a few weeks ago. I browse Book Barns, play trivia, drink coffee, and “life chat” with my high school friends now. I believe that girlfriends are the best medicine, I believe in the words John Lennon wrote, "all you need is love". "Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates..." is spoken by Carrie Bradshaw in Season 4, Episode 1 of Sex and the City, and this I believe.
Now that I've shared precious moments of my life with you, it's your turn. You know me know, and you clearly know my friends (YES...Katy the new English teacher is also Katy that ran me baths!) I'm finding more and more that my girlfriends are my panacea (well...my girlfriends and a good book.) I miss Sunday night family dinners and church dates! So anyway...HHC things:
Gabi is training a new Help Desk volunteer right now! Marlies is just so sweet and we're really excited for her to be here. Right before Marlies got here, Gabi was finalizing a resume for a client and sending him off on an interview (for an Adjunct position at Three Rivers! SO impressive!) She also works really closely with a client who went and applied for a job and got an interview on his own last week, he said this morning that the interview went really well. Next week, we're having an HIV/AIDS workshop to raise awareness (all courtesy of Gabi, because she is rocking this place). On Friday, I think she planned on leaving around 2 and was swamped, completely booked solid until 4:30. We were laughing by the end of the day but I think at some points we secretly just wanted to up and run. Luckily, she was able to get home this weekend to see her family, she says she's recharged which is so important because she works SO hard here all the time.
I got a phone call this morning from a woman named Abby who is an illustrator for children's books and wants to teach some sort of drawing class for us. So I immediately booked her for a workshop on the 21st at the shelter and honestly, I cannot WAIT for this. I love drawing, though my limitations probably end and begin around stick figures, the sun, and flowers. We are also booking volunteers to can vegetables and fruits on Saturday (the 10th). This is all for our 9/11 Weekend of Service and the canned produce will be donated to our Veteran's House, the overnight shelter, and a few other places in the area. Want to help can? EMAIL ME at email@example.com to get a list of the 2 hour shifts throughout the day and pick one to help out with! It's all in New London, which is a great place if you haven't visited, so come on over!
I'm sitting here and Alyssa is at her desk in a red raincoat and khaki pants, then Elsie's dog Gus is next to us and he's a yellow lab wearing a red collar. I told Alyssa how well they match and how good they look together and she replied with "We called each other." I love it.
You all have a good rainy day, it's a good one for blankets and books (but isn't everyday?). I hope you enjoyed your holiday and got to spend some time with your family, or by yourself if you prefer that. We don't judge, you do what you do.