I’ve struggled for many months trying to decide whether or not to write a blog. Almost all of my friends who are doing something “exciting” or “exotic” their first year out of college are writing blogs about it to inform their friends and family of their adventures, share their feelings, and sometimes ask for financial or other assistance/support. And I have had many people ask me if I was going to write one as well, thinking that it doesn’t get much more exotic or exciting than literally living and working in a homeless shelter for undocumented immigrants (and refugees and migrants). But the thing is, I’m not really sure I like that perspective.
From the perspective of mainstream culture, this year-long volunteer position at Annunciation House certainty seems exotic. I am eating purely donated food, living in a place categorized as an “emergency shelter,” and in fact am legally homeless because I live here. And believe me, it was exotic to me when I arrived last summer to complete the summer internship. But I’ve learned a little since then.
Annunciation House (and it’s second location Casa Vides where I now live) really is a home. We have families who live here (and individuals who make up our family). In fact, as I write this I can hear the toddler next door giggling happily as the parent tries to convince him to fall asleep. We share food, with some of the older women here literally begging me some days to eat the food they have prepared for themselves and want to share with me. This is real life for the guests who need hospitality and it is for me as well. I am home.
Annunciation House draws up a lot of feelings and emotions in me, which is part of the reason I decided to write this blog. I will spend this entire next year (and probably the rest of my life) sorting through all of them. But for now, here is the promised poem that I wrote during reflection one day (more on life in the house and reflection in a later post):
Never Say Never
Never thought I would leave my sister for a year
Never thought I would live in an urban desert again
Never thought I would go a year without a car
Never thought I would live from only 2 suitcases
Never imagined I would live in a homeless shelter
Never imagined I would volunteer for a year
Never imagined I would be part of something so controversial
Never imagined I would care so much about politics
Never dreamed I would make such good friends
Never dreamed I would be part of something so important
Never dreamed I would find a community based on love alone
Never dreamed I would discover Annunciation House
But here I am
Discovering my unknown dreams to try to help the dreams of others
La lucha sigue
P.S. According the the policy of the organization, this blog will never use the names of guests, describe any of their personal information, tell detailed stories about their lives, nor use any of their images. Many of our guests are fleeing something, with many of the guests currently asking for asylum. Therefore, it is a large safety concern that none of this information ever be released, as it is all confidential within the organization. That being said, I will still do be best I can to help you accompany me and the guests on their struggles and mine, even if you can never know them in the traditional sense.
Also, this blog was originally created for my Digital Communications class while at Furman, so if you see anything weird or like it seems like it doesn’t really belong, let me know! I’ve tried to delete all of the old class projects, but I’m no expert with computers, so I’m sure some of it is still here.