On Monday, January 15, 2018 Concordia University, St. Paul organized a day of service for students to participate in; attendance was not required, but encouraged. The students who participated were assigned to a volunteer site in which their interests were taken into consideration when assigning them to a site, so that they may contribute to their fullest potential. The purpose of the “day on” was to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his impact on the Civil Rights Movement. His teachings on peace and loving one another still resonate today, for the MLK Service Day was a day for CSP students to give back to the community and potentially to inspire us to want to give back all year round. I was assigned to go to Bridging. Bridging is located in Roseville, MN and provides good quality home furnishings to individuals and families who can not afford the them, in hopes to give them dignity and a sense of self-worth. All of Bridging’s clients have been referred to them by a social service and just acquired housing but have an annual income of $15,000 or less, so they can not afford furnishings. The group assigned to Bridging was split into two small groups by the volunteer coordinator. One group, consisting of mostly guys and athletes, helped by moving large furniture items on and off moving trucks. The other group, consisting of myself and mostly girls, helped by organizing silverware sets and ripping linen into strips to be used to tie around rolled up blankets, sheets, and comforters.
Going to Bridging for the MLK service day introduced me to a location at which I can volunteer at for the Honors Service Learning Project. Starting on Thursday, January 25 I will be volunteering at Bridging at least once a week for two hours in the mornings. At Bridging I will be a shopping assistant to the clients. My job will be to walk through the warehouse with them, helping them pick out furniture and other household items, mainly making sure they get everything they need and want. I will be there make sure the clients feel like they have a say in the process, for Bridging values dignity. The founder of Bridging does not agree with the sayings “something is better than nothing” and “beggars can’t be choosers” and does not want those sayings to be associated with Bridging, because the sayings dehumanize the clients, implying that they have no opinions or preferences in the items what will be going into their home. So, my volunteer work at Bridging is vocation, for I will be the hands and feet of God for the clients by giving them hope and relief, by showing them love and compassion, and by sharing the gift of God with them.
Learning about Bridging’s mission statement made me think about how society views and treats the humanity of those in poverty and homelessness. Obviously, they have physical needs that are more or less meet by many non-profit organizations, but how many of those organizations are also meeting the non-physical needs of those experiencing poverty and homelessness? Bridging is the first one I have learned about that focuses on the humanity of the clients. Up until MLK day, I had never thought about providing for the non-physical needs or that both needs can be meet at once. I am ashamed to admit this, but I had always thought the homeless and those in poverty should be grateful for whatever help or handouts they receive because after all “beggars can’t be choosers”. In no way is what I thought true, for it was ignorant of me not to realize their humanity. Attending to the physical needs of those is homelessness and poverty is just as important as attending to their non-physical needs, for Jesus not only stopped a women who committed adultery from getting stoned but He also forgave her sins (John 8:1-11). He attended to both her physical and non-physical needs, and as a Christian I must to do the same thing to the best of my ability as it is part of vocation.