Over the last few months, I’ve felt like there’s not a huge amount of purpose in my life. I know I’ve spent time doing counseling stuff, for my photography course, going to the gym, etc. but most of my time I have been alone at home. I am an introvert, so most of the time I’m quite happy to be alone, but it was getting to be too much. After much pondering, I thought it would be good to do something for my sanity and to give back to the community.
I’ve started volunteering as a receptionist at CUPS’ (Calgary Urban Project Society) downtown lobby a few mornings a week. Why did I choose CUPS? Well, on my internship, the company I worked for sponsored an annual breakfast for CUPS, so I had the opportunity to learn about what they do. I believe that we’re called to look after and care for those who are less fortunate than us (Matthew 25: 35 – 40) and I thought that this would be a good opportunity to try to help.
It’s definitely very different from what I’m used to as the world of homelessness is not something I’ve really been exposed to. (Other than walking past the homeless people while trying to ignore their pleas for change.) Coming from a middle class world, it’s an eye-opening experience dealing urban poverty.
It’s been a very challenging experience for me dealing with people from different walks of life that me. I don’t generally swear a lot, I’ve never done drugs, I drink only occasionally and I’ve never had to worry about not having a roof over my head at night. When I came in for the first time and was dealing with clients who fulfill some or all of those criteria, it was a bit shocking. (And to be honest, it still is!) My heart goes out to these people as they’ve had a difficult life.
I know that over the short time I’ve been there, I have grown a lot. I’ve had to work on my boundaries, realized that I can’t fix everyone as much as I might like to and that I can’t take everything personally. I’m still struggling with these and many other things. Regardless, I do hope to be able to share my adventures in dealing with the homeless and what I’ve learned with all of you. My life is definitely slightly less boring now that I’ve started helping out at CUPS.
Have you ever volunteered for the homeless? If so, how was your experience?