For our field trip during our week of learning about poverty and homelessness, we went to A Bed for Every Child, an organization where you can volunteer to build a bed for a child in need. When we got there, I was excited to get to work with my fellow Teen JUST-US’ers. I knew that we’d be building a bed for a child who didn’t have one; what I didn’t realize was how my perception of that fact changed when I learned the name of the child.
Before we began building the beds, Jorge, our guide at A Bed for Every Child, showed us a short video. The video discussed the origins and mission of the organization. It also featured some children, mentioned by name and age. The distinction of featuring the kids really stuck out to me. Before we began building our bed, I opened our envelope containing the details of the child, and saw that we would be building a bed for Jordyn, no other details provided. It’s been a few weeks since that day, but I still remember Jordyn’s name. I’ll probably never meet Jordyn, but that doesn’t matter. Hearing Jordyn’s name made our work real, in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. Just knowing that little Jordyn would be sleeping in a bed only a few days later, thanks to our work, inspired me to keep helping kids in need.
In a similar vein, I began my work at Yad Chessed by working on projects that were less client-centric. I mainly worked on social media graphics and poverty statistics. When I began to read client surveys, my perspective shifted somewhat. I went from having an understanding that Yad Chessed had clients to feeling a personal connection with the clients, despite having never met them. As I read through the 103 client surveys, I developed a rhythm of recording them, but that didn’t stop me from delving into them. As cliche as someone writing “God bless all of you” might seem, it connected me to the human on the other side, the one who answered the survey.
The humanization of these people touched me deeply and has, similar to learning about Jordyn, made me want to do more. My experience at A Bed For Every Child and Yad Chessed made me consider the plight of these people. Just like me, they are average people who want to live a normal life. So, by doing something as mundane as a six-week summer program, I help them achieve their wishes while learning quite a bit along the way.