Today we woke up early and ready to get our service game faces on. We were all excited to volunteer at Winnipeg Harvest for the second time, but very ready to move on from the potato and onion sorting to a different task. Thankfully, our volunteer coordinator Tyler placed us at the rice, pasta, and flour sorting station. Dressed in our hairnets, aprons, and gloves and VERY excited to be working in air conditioning, we got straight to work. For about 2 hours we packaged the different products and stocked them into crates. We all worked together and demonstrated our athleticism (it required a lot of endurance!!), competitive drive and efficiency. Tyler was a bit shocked when we went over and told him that we had finished stocking the massive amounts or rice and pasta within a one-hour span. We had to wait for a little bit until the volunteer crew could find us another task. Peyton decided to entertain us with his musical talents while Ken our bus driver took one for the team and ventured to find us another task. Game changer: Tyler found us some flour to package. After a few rounds of flour, we cleaned up our tables, washed the dishes, and thanked Winnipeg Harvest for hosting us.
The team decided to head downtown and visit the Museum of Human Rights. Apart from serving and participating in outreach activities, Gopher Global emphasizes the importance of learning and education. It was such an amazing and eye opening experience and we did not want to leave.
We learned about the importance of basic human rights and the history and controversy amongst philosophers, political thinkers, great leaders, and activists. We were moved and inspired by stories told from the perspective of real lived experiences. This entire experience reminded us why we give back to our community and the importance of acceptance within society.
Next we continued our service-learning trip at Siloam Mission. We all attended an educational session with Tim one of the staff members. Tim explained how Siloam works and the differences between the two types of poverty. Basic needs include food water and shelter while Broken Hearts are people going through a traumatic experience (loved one pass, overcoming addiction, depression, etc). Tim talked about how to approach these two categories of poverty and what we can do to insert ourselves in this healing process.
Most often than not, human beings have the desire to fix things, and with regards to homelessness a lot of basic needs can be met with explicit donations. Needs like food and water and a place to sleep can all be provided through financial support. Tim really capitalized on the ways in which straight donations can be problematic. A lot of people experiencing homelessness need more than just the basics to get their feet back under them. Siloam Mission has created a support net of transitional housing advisors, career counselors, spiritual healers, doctors, dentists and trainers. These bonds are not formed through fiscal support but rather created through loving and caring attitudes.
In addition to all of the wonderful resources Siloam Mission has to offer, it has an art room just off of the main lobby. This space allows people to express their creativity and gives hope in times of darkness. This provides possibilities for people experiencing homelessness, abuse, depression, and many other types of difficult circumstances. People who come and use the art room can sell their pieces to local businesses or individual buyers. After walking through the entire art room we all agreed that we wanted to buy pretty much every painting there was J.
Today we split up into three separate groups: kitchen, drop-in, and clothing donation sorting. The drop-in was a great experience to interact with people from all walks of life. We were able to form connections and realize that people in difficult and life threatening situations are human beings just like us. The members working in the kitchen had a lot of food to make and serve in a short amount of time. In just 1 hour the kitchen gave out meals to 452 people. Our team worked with other volunteers to make the entire dinner process possible, making us feeling like we were actually contributing to the people in the community.
Millions of clothes come through Siloam’s doors. It is very important that the clothes are clean and in good condition so that people can wear them with dignity. Siloam Mission emphasizes the importance of dignity and respect and how those two values are the main building blocks to the support of their community. The rule for sorting clothes: If you wouldn’t wear it, then it goes into recycling.
After an incredibly impactful day, we hit up a local restaurant to have dinner. The restaurant Stella’s is our favorite so far in Winnipeg. The waiters ended up liking us a little more because we weren’t nearly as loud as last night’s dinner. It was probably because we were all tuckered out from the long day.
We are looking forward to volunteering one last time at Siloam Mission tomorrow. Stay tuned to hear more about our experiences and excursions in Winnipeg!