Volunteers experience NYC
Over spring break, a group of 11 students, in conjunction with the Colby Volunteer Center (CVC), participated in an alternative spring break trip volunteering at various food pantries and soup kitchens in New York City.
During the day, the students worked in soup kitchens serving food, setting tables and cleaning up. Each day the group would “split into two smaller groups and volunteer at different places since some of the worksites could not accommodate large groups,” trip leader Kelsey Naruse ‘13 said. “What one group did on Monday, the second group would do on Tuesday.”
“At some of the locations, we had the opportunity to talk with the patrons, which made volunteering more meaningful,” Madison Louis ‘13, another trip leader, said. In the food pantries the group helped clients work through a point system. “Depending on how many people were in each person’s family, he or she received a certain number of points per category. The different categories, for example, were vegetables, fruit, milk, meat, beans, rice, pasta, cereal and bread,” Louis said.
The group stayed at Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church in a Sunday school classroom. They slept in sleeping bags on a carpeted floor, and also had access to showers and a kitchen. The group cooked all their meals using food purchased in Waterville prior to the trip. “For breakfast, students ate bagels, oatmeal or cereal. In our packed lunches, we had [sandwiches] in addition to a granola bar and a piece of fruit. For dinner, we had different combinations of rice, pasta and salad,” Larissa Lee ‘13, the third trip leader, said.
The group got a chance to meet a variety of people through their service. “One of the most interesting people I met was a woman I spoke to at Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center,” Louis said. “She had lived in this area of New York for her entire life and had seen the city change. She was there before Julliard had established its campus in Lincoln Square. To have the opportunity to speak to a true New York local was a wonderful experience.”
Each night, the group reflected on the day and discussed some of the larger themes of the trip. Discussion topics included urban poverty, public and private spaces, community, limited resources, education and social class.
“Alternative spring break was absolutely a rewarding experience. It was exciting to come back at night and discuss complex issues in relation to the volunteering we were doing each day,” Lee said. “Furthermore, it was incredibly rewarding to see months of planning materialize into a single trip.”